Who Participates in Homebuyer Education and Counseling Services and Why? Insights From HUD’s First-Time Homebuyer Education and Counseling Demonstration
Congress and many researchers and practitioners in the field of housing counseling have asked whether pre-purchase homeownership counseling for first-time borrowers leads to better borrower outcomes and reduced lender risk relative to no counseling. HUD designed The First-Time Homebuyer Education and Counseling Demonstration as a large-scale randomized experiment to answer the question about the relative efficacy of homebuyer education and counseling on first-time borrowers. Because of the richness of the data collected on study participants at baseline and during the service participation period of the Demonstration, a detailed analysis of the study participants’ personal characteristics that are associated with program participation in – both initiation and completion of – in-person and remote homebuyer education and counseling services was possible. Key findings from Who Participates in Homebuyer Education and Counseling Services and Why? Insights from HUD’s First-Time Homebuyer Education and Counseling Demonstration indicate that women and homebuyers with greater education were more likely to participate in homebuyer education and counseling services in general. Those at an early stage of the homebuying process, those who reported being “pretty good at math,” or those who planned to purchase a home without a co-borrower were more likely to participate in in-person services. Those who planned to spend more years living in their purchased home, who scored better on a baseline mortgage literacy quiz, or who had a higher credit score were more likely to participate in remote services. This paper provides data that can inform how HUD’s Housing Counseling Program and service providers market and deliver homebuyer education and counseling services, and serves as a useful basis for readers to assess the ultimate findings of the Demonstration that will be forthcoming in future reports.