Most first-time homebuyers prefer remote counseling, study finds

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The majority of first-time homebuyers participating in a recent survey preferred online or phone interactions when receiving counseling that is a prerequisite for some loan programs.

When given a choice between counseling done in-person or via remote services, about 75% of respondents chose the latter, according to an Abt Associates study of Department of Housing and Urban Development data.

The uptake rate — the percentage of people followed through with the type of counseling they were offered — also was higher for first-time homebuyers who were exclusively offered remote counseling than for those who were only offered in-person counseling.

Two-thirds of people who were offered phone or online counseling participated in it. In comparison, roughly 25% of those who were invited to attend live homebuyer education sessions followed through and accepted the offer.

Uptake rates also were higher for women and people planning to purchase a home without a co-borrower. Those just beginning their home buying search were more likely to participate in-person.

Race, ethnicity, age, marital status and household size were not found to be statistically significant predictors of participation.

"The findings in this analysis provide lessons for how agencies market homebuyer education and counseling services to prospective clients," Shawn Moulton, one of the authors of the study, said in a press release.

Data examined in the study came from nearly 6,000 first-time homebuyers from 28 large metropolitan areas. Mortgage lenders referred the respondents who participated.

Most homebuyers find purchasing a house is more difficult than it has to be, according to research conducted by Brodeur Partners on FrameWork's behalf, and another recent study by Ellie Mae suggests consumer education could help spur more origination activity among millennials.

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First time home buyers Financial literacy Purchase HUD Ellie Mae