Survey: More Home Buying Education, Please

March 18, 2015

While some banks have attempted to ease their lending standards and make credit available to more home buyers, they're still falling short on supplying enough home-ownership education, consumers say. That may highlight a void real estate professionals could fill by offering more home buying information on their websites or hosting more buyer workshops and classes.

Though 86 percent of buyers say they had sufficient resources to educate themselves about the home buying process during their search, according to TD Bank's latest Mortgage Service Index, 51 percent indicate that banks could offer more relevant and helpful information online. Forty-nine percent also say banks should better train their employees to more clearly explain buyers' options.

The Mortgage Service Index is based on a survey of more than 1,450 consumers who bought homes within the last 10 years.

First-time home buyers show the most interest in added educational resources, with 52 percent saying banks could offer more home financing seminars and workshops, according to the Index. Only 40 percent of all respondents say the same. And 58 percent of first-timers say they want additional information online compared to 51 percent of all respondents.

Additionally, the Index finds, 44 percent of all consumers are unfamiliar with home affordability programs.

"In our current housing market, a critical first step for buyers is to educate themselves on the financing process by speaking with multiple lenders and learning about the loan options available to them," says Malcolm Hollensteiner, director of retail lending, sales, and production at TD Bank. "Lenders today should be working with borrowers on a case-by-case basis in order to find the loan option that best meets their needs and budget."

REALTORS® have often made education their mission, not just for their own clients but for communities as a whole. Some associations set up programs to teach kids as young as third grade about housing issues or reach out to minorities to educate them about home ownership. Others host their own home-buyer seminars and classes. However they do it, it's clear that the opportunity is there for real estate professionals to work with buyers on getting better educated and come up with ways to supplement information that banks are disseminating.

TD's Mortgage Service Index also finds that consumers are feeling better about the home buying process as a whole, with 68 percent saying their last experience was excellent or very good. That's up from 62 percent a year ago. Consumers rated the following aspects of the home buying process the highest:

  • Finding a good real estate practitioner (59 percent say their experience was excellent or very good)
  • Finding the right lender (57 percent)
  • Getting approved for a mortgage (65 percent)
  • Length of the entire process (52 percent)

—REALTOR® Magazine