Counseling for Homebuyers
PHFA offers counseling and education programs to homebuyers free of charge. Choose each topic below to help you determine which program best fits your needs.
PHFA offers homebuyers the opportunity to receive homebuyer counseling and education through its approved counseling agencies, as well as an online program. Housing Counselors provide guidance and advice to help families and individuals improve their housing conditions and meet the responsibility of homeownership.
Topics covered include but are not limited to:
- evaluating mortgagor readiness;
- fair housing (including whether or not the beneficiary belongs to a protected class and how to recognize discrimination);
- credit report analysis and repair;
- budgeting for mortgage payments;
- improving money management skills;
- selecting a real estate agent and home inspection.
This also may include guidance on:
- alternative sources of mortgage credit;
- how to apply for special programs available to potential homebuyers;
- how to identify and avoid predatory lending practices;
- locating housing that provides universal design and visitability;
- locating resources and methods to help for accessibility modifications;
- how to purchase a home using Section 8 Homeownership Voucher Program;
- referrals to community services and regulatory agencies.
Borrowers with a middle credit score at or above 680 may complete the PHFA Online Homebuyer course. Borrowers with a middle credit score lower than 680 are required to complete an in-person course at a counseling agency prior to closing on their loan. These services are paid for by PHFA, with the exception of the credit report fee that may be charged by the counseling agency. Note: credit reports used for mortgage financing purposes generally return three scores; the "middle" score would be the one between the low and high scores.
Please locate a PHFA approved Homeownership Counseling Agency in your area and make an appointment. We strongly encourage you to seek the assistance of a counselor before you sign a sales agreement, especially if you are a first–time buyer. For problems getting access to a counseling agency; or, for more information, questions, or concerns regarding this list, contact Terri L. Redmond at 717.780.3907.
PHFA developed the Financial Education and Coaching Program to help renters, homebuyers, and homeowners understand and improve their personal finances. We offer these programs in workshop or face-to-face settings. Read below to determine which setting is most suitable for you.
Financial Education Workshop
Whether you are considering buying a home, currently in the market, a first-time or long-term homeowner, struggling to make your payments, or just want to improve your credit, this series of four workshops can help you learn to manage your money. The workshops are provided in a group setting and are available to you at no cost through one of our certified housing counselors.
After you've completed your Financial Education sessions, you're eligible to meet with a counselor one-on-one to get help with your personal finances. These private coaching sessions can be either face-to-face or on the phone, and are also free of charge.
Program topics include:
- Goals, Assets, and Earnings
- Will help you understand your personal assets and how to set financial goals.
- You will also learn about different sources of income, and how employer-provided benefits contribute to your overall financial health.
- Spend, Save, and Invest
- Teaches steps to making effective money decisions, choosing between needs and wants, and managing your cash flow.
- You will learn the differences between saving and investing, and how to diversify your savings and investments to maximize and protect your assets.
- Review Taxes, Manage Risk, and Protect Your Money
- Will teach you the basics of income taxes, and understanding your income tax return.
- You will also discuss tools to manage risk, including insurance, identity theft protection, and Consumer Protection Resources.
- How to Get, Use, and Manage Credit
- This final section will discuss the importance of maintaining good credit, and how to use it to build your assets.
To locate a counseling agency in your area, please choose a county from the menu list below; or, select "All Counties" for a statewide list.
Financial Capabilities Face-to-Face Session
We are excited to announce our Take Charge of Your Money, Financial Capabilities campaign. At PHFA, we believe that a true understanding of your finances is essential in order to make the best decisions that ultimately affect your future and the future of your loved ones. The goal of the campaign is to attract and serve more consumers interested in managing their personal finances regardless of where they are in the homeownership process. We have agencies all over PA providing financial education at no cost to you. If you are looking for a face-to-face session where you can discuss your current situation, do a deeper dive into your spending habits, and create manageable goals that will shape the quality of your life moving forward, then find a counseling agency near you and Take Charge of your Money!
- Goals, Assets, and Earnings
- Is buying a home right for you? - YouTube Video (courtesy of Bank of America)
- How much home can you comfortably afford? - YouTube Video (courtesy of Bank of America)
- Understanding different types of mortgages - YouTube Video (courtesy of Bank of America)
- What makes up a mortgage payment? - YouTube Video (courtesy of Bank of America)
- Planning for extra costs when buying a house - YouTube Video (courtesy of Bank of America)