19 Free Homebuying Education Resources You Need to Bookmark

published Dec 27, 2020
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Buying a home can be wildly intimidating—even if you’ve done it before.

There are so many confusing terms, acronyms, documents, deadlines, companies, and people involved that it’s hard to keep it all straight. Though homeownership can be a savvy financial move, there’s definitely a learning curve upfront.

If you’re thinking of buying a home, one of the best gifts you can give yourself is to become familiar with and educated about all the steps along the way. Below, find 19 free resources for people who are interested in learning more about homebuying.

1. Home Insurance Companies

You may not know this yet, especially if you’re just starting to learn more about buying a home, but unless you’re paying for your house in cash, you’ll almost certainly need to get home insurance (and even if you are paying in cash, it’s still a very good idea). Because of that, home insurance companies often have really, really good resources and explainers about all sorts of potentially confusing home-related topics. AllState, Progressive, and State Farm have handy guides, just to name a few. The Information Insurance Institute website is also a great resource. 

2. Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports is perhaps best known for pulling back the curtain on dangerous products and other consumer safety issues—it’s a nonprofit that conducts research and advocates on behalf of everyday people who buy and use things. But they also investigate and write about personal finance more broadly, and they come at it with a unique lens: how to make sure homeowners are getting the best deal, the most accurate information, and just generally not being screwed over at any step along the way. They’ve got in-depth guides on how to make the most of a home inspection, how to save on mortgage fees, buying your home in an economic crisis, and many other topics.

3. U.S. Department of Housing and Human Services

The U.S. Department of Housing and Human Services, more commonly referred to as HUD, offers a wealth of free resources for homebuyers. This federal agency helps with everything from rental assistance to housing discrimination and fair lending. As a homebuyer, you can click around the HUD website to shop for a loan, figure out how much of a mortgage you can afford, learn your rights as a borrower, and see if you qualify for any special homebuying programs. Here, you’ll also find a complete list of HUD-approved housing counseling agencies near you for more personal help and advice on an array of home-related topics.

4. Real Estate Today

Real Estate Today is the podcast from the National Association of Realtors, so you’ll be hearing from one of the top authorities in this world. There are more than 600 episodes to listen back through, covering all sorts of helpful real estate trends, news, tips, advice, and more. 

5. Money Under 30

Money Under 30 has established itself as a go-to resource for all things personal finance (and, yes, the site is still helpful even if you’re over 30!). Their first-time homebuyer guide has lots of interactive questions, steps, calculators, and more to help you fully understand the process from start to finish.

6. Jill on Money

Hosted by Jill Schlesinger, the Jill on Money podcast and website tackles all sorts of complex financial topics, including homeownership. Schlesinger is a certified financial planner and a business analyst for CBS News, so she’s well-informed about the ins and outs of topics like mortgages, rental properties, and paying down debt vs. investing. 

7. Two Cents

Two Cents is an educational YouTube channel from PBS that’s all about personal finance. In true PBS style, the videos are informative, upbeat, and easy to understand. They cover everything from budgeting basics to bankruptcy, and they have a number of videos about homeownership and buying a home more broadly. They even cover more nuanced topics, like why it’s OK to keep renting.

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8. Reddit

Love it or hate it, Reddit can be a great resource on many topics, including buying a home. Of course, you can glean a lot from reading other people’s questions and experiences, but take them with a grain of salt—this is just random people sharing their thoughts on the internet. It can help you become familiar with the homebuying process, but always do your own research and talk to your lender or real estate agent before acting on any advice you read here. The r/FirstTimeHomeBuyer subreddit is a good place to start.

9. Dave Ramsey

Dave Ramsey is one of the most popular personal finance gurus out there. He’s got a bunch of classes, books, and resources that you have to pay for, but he also offers good advice for free on his website, YouTube channel, and his radio show/podcast. On his show, Ramsey talks through specific questions and scenarios people face related to homeownership, which will give you some much-needed context about what it’s like to be a homeowner. 

10. National Foundation for Credit Counseling

In order to buy a home, you’ll need to get your financial house in order (pun intended). The National Foundation for Credit Counseling is a nonprofit debt and financial counseling service that’s been around since 1951. Even if you don’t necessarily need a full-on debt consolidation plan or debt counseling session, you can check out their learning center website for free resources and information. 

11. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB for short, is the federal agency within the U.S. government that helps protect consumers. The bureau offers tons of free information about everything from buying a home to mortgages.

12. Your State’s Housing Office or Agency

Your state and even your city or county housing agency likely has loads of free educational resources to check out. These classes, workshops, and toolkits can be super relevant, since they reference other local organizations or resources that might be available to you during your homebuying process. A few examples: Boston has a homebuying 101 workshop, New Jersey publishes a home buying guide, and North Carolina has tons of online resources, too. Try searching your state or county name, plus “homebuying 101.”

13. Investopedia

This financial news website has a seriously thorough guide that covers everything you need to know about buying a home.

14. Nerdwallet

Personal finance company Nerdwallet creates resources and guides for everything from the best credit cards around to paying off your student loans. They’ve also got tons of handy information about mortgages, buying a home for the first time, and more. NerdWallet has a podcast, Smart Money, that covers homebuying as well as many other personal finance topics (it’s all connected, after all).

Credit: Zillow

15. Zillow

You probably already swipe through Zillow to fantasize about your dream home and see what’s on the market. This real estate marketplace also has a complete home buying guide that features helpful videos and a step-by-step look at the process.

16. NPR’s Life Kit

NPR’s Life Kit podcast covers a host of real-life topics and issues, including buying a house. They’ve got a great guide to buying a house that covers renting vs. buying, how to save money on your mortgage, and more.

17. Bigger Pockets

Bigger Pockets comes at homebuying from a slightly different angle: real estate investment. Even if you aren’t planning to launch a real estate investment empire, you can still learn a lot about how to make good decisions with your money and your home from the site. They have blog posts, guides, webinars, podcasts, and forums.

18. Lender Websites

As you’re doing your research and comparing loan terms and interest rates from various lenders, go ahead and take a few minutes to poke around each lender’s website. Most offer a wealth of educational resources and guides covering all facets of homebuying. A few to bookmark: Rocket Mortgage, Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo.

19. You’re Buying a Home 

Hosted by Seattle real estate agent Silas Lindenstein, the You’re Buying a Home podcast is all about empowering homebuyers anywhere in the country. The first 10 episodes of the podcast are a step-by-step guide to buying a house, while other episodes cover topics like different loan types, how to save money, condos vs. townhouses, and beyond.