This is the fifth of ten articles running in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder between April-June 2023.

It’s no news flash that buying a home is one of the biggest financial transactions most of us will ever make. It’s also common knowledge that purchasing a home is a complicated process, with many important choices and decisions involved along the way. Yet many of us turn to a Realtor® or lender we meet only as a result of some quick online research or an ad in a church bulletin, and we look to them to guide us successfully through the process.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Realtors and lenders are in the business of helping people to purchase homes successfully. But there’s a smarter way to start the process, and it can save you from unnecessary frustration, anxiety and overspending along the way.

We’re talking about professional, HUD-certified homebuyer education and advising. This week’s installment from the Minnesota Homeownership Center will cover homebuyer education. (Advisory services will be covered in our next article.)

When it comes to homebuyer ed, the Minnesota Homeownership Center’s Home Stretch© workshop is among the best offerings out there. The regularly updated curriculum, newly refreshed as of May 1 to include input from past participants and aspiring first-time buyers, is approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Those presenting the class must earn HUD certification as professional homebuying educators. Topics covered include Managing Money; Understanding Credit; Preparing to Apply for a Mortgage; Finding the Home that’s Right for You; Making an Offer; the Purchase Closing Process; What New Homeowners Need to Know; and more. The class presents the full story of homeownership, including its history of racism, its wealth-building and stabilizing impact today, and the opportunities for all of us facilitated by equitable access to owning one’s own home. Participants learn in a peer-to-peer environment and get to share the experience with others seeking the same goal.

The Home Stretch workshop stretches for eight hours, often divided into smaller chunks. And it’s designed with an eye toward keeping participants enthusiastically engaged. Outside experts, including local real estate agents, mortgage lenders, home inspectors and others, join the instructors for real-world discussions. And students leave with a host of resources to continue helping them into the future. Participants who have taken the class consistently rate it highly, with 93 percent of 2021 respondents eager to recommend the course to others.

While some loan products require HUD-approved homebuyer education as part of the mortgage approval process, the best time to take the class is before you start your homebuying journey. Even if you see homeownership for yourself as still a few years away, you can Get Ready now, so you’ll Be Ready when the time is right for you.

As luck would have it, (or perhaps by design via the careful timing of this article), June is Homeownership Month. And that means many Home Stretch workshop providers are waiving the usual $40 class fee. Advance registration is required for all classes, and a full list of class offerings, both virtual and in-person, is online at Providers offering free classes this June in the Twin Cities include African Economic Development Solutions, CAPI USA, Model Cities, Neighborhood Development Alliance, NeighborWorks Home Partners, Project for Pride in Living, Urban League Twin Cities and Washington County CDA. Additional classes may be listed after the publication of this article. In addition to English, free classes are being offered in Amharic, Oromo, Somali and Spanish.

The bottom line is, knowledge equals power. Educated consumers make informed decisions, and set themselves up for successful, and sustainable, homeownership. The Minnesota Homeownership Center’s Home Stretch homebuyer education workshop is easy to access, and well worth the time it takes to complete.

Homeownership is possible. We can show you how.

For more information on the Minnesota Homeownership Center and its advisor and education services, visit