And if you file bankruptcy you'll have to go through it twice - before you file and after.
Buying a home doesn't come with a manual, but homeownership counseling, mandated for a host of mortgage programs and mortgage relief efforts is the next best thing.
Study after study reveals in good times and bad, homeowners who manage to hold onto their mortgages longest and often without struggling are homeowners who completed accredited homeownership education lessons.
"A buyer is having trouble finding a home, maybe he doesn't have enough for a down payment just yet, and he's still saving, or he needs to up his credit score. Well, he also should think about getting some homebuyer education," said Douglas Robinson, a spokesman for 35-year-old NeighborWorks America a Washington, D.C.-based consortium of community-based non-profits focused on affordable housing and community development.
"Our new research shows that buyers - whether first-time homebuyers or repeat buyers - have a one-third less chance of going seriously delinquent within two years if homebuyer education classes are taken," Robinson added.
Neil Mayer and Associates and Experian conducted the study, "Pre-Purchase Counseling Impacts on Mortgage Performance: Empirical Analysis of NeighborWorks America's Experience," to take a look at 75,000 mortgage loans originated from 2007 to 2009, just as the mortgage crisis was gripping the nation and mortgage lenders began to get tight-fisted with home loans.
The study brought the message home, "Homebuyers who receive NeighborWorks pre-purchase housing counseling and education are nearly one-third less likely to fall behind 90 days or more on their mortgages within two years of origination, than consumers who don't receive NeighborWorks pre-purchase counseling and education."
Counseling services are part of NeighborWorks America efforts to improve lives by providing affordable and strong communities.
That's because when it comes to community sustainability, there's nothing like homeownership. When it comes to sustaining homeownership, there's nothing like the smarts imparted by counseling to keep a roof over your head.
What's so special about homeownership counseling?
What you don't know can hurt you.
Homeownership counseling teaches you not only how to prepare for homeownership, but also what you must do to hold onto your piece of the American Dream.
There's targeted counseling for buying a home, continuing education for those who already own a home, lessons for struggling homeowners who want to avoid foreclosure, mortgage modification management schooling, reverse mortgage preparatory classes and lessons in both alternatives to bankruptcy and in avoiding bankruptcy, just to mention some of the different occasions homeownership lessons are both mandatory and necessary.
Homeownership counseling is not just for hard cases. What's more it's typically free from the above sources or their myriad affiliates.
First-time homebuyers could complete a certified homeownership session to use as a manual for homeownership.
Move-up buyers should take lessons to catch up on the latest information about homeownership, given the mortgage and homeownership world has likely changed since they bought their current home.
Refinancing homeowners and those who are thinking about tapping their equity should consider homeownership lessons that focus on the financing aspect of homeownership, including budgeting, saving, investment savings and money spending.
You don't have to be in the market to buy a home. Homeownership counseling is a good first step to learn how to prepare for the day you do decide to take the plunge.