Pre-Purchase Counseling Outcome Study: Research Brief Housing Counseling Outcome Evaluation

Authors: Turnham, Jennifer | Jefferson, Anna


Release Date: May 2012 (91 Pages)
Posted Date: May 15, 2012

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The Pre-Purchase Counseling Outcome Study provides detailed characteristics of a sample of people seeking pre-purchase counseling, including their income and credit status, their reasons for seeking counseling, the stage in the purchase process at which counseling occurs, and detailed information about the nature of counseling services delivered including total hours of counseling received, type of counseling, and which topics were covered.

The key findings of the study include:

  • Most study participants were planning to purchase a home within one year (74 percent) and were motivated to seek counseling to identify homebuyer assistance programs (58 percent) or to obtain down payment or closing cost assistance or to qualify for a specific loan program (58 percent).
  • Most study participants started pre-purchase counseling early in the home buying process (only 15 percent had a signed purchase agreement), had not received any kind of housing counseling or financial education within the past 3 years (66 percent) and received education on topics related to homeownership readiness, help with budgeting and improving their credit, financing a home, and shopping for a home.
  • Most study participants were employed full-time (81 percent), earned a median annual income of $30,000, and had little money in non-retirement savings or retirement accounts when they sought pre-purchase counseling services.
  • Study participants were racially and ethnically diverse (52 percent African American, 32 percent White, 16 percent of another race or multi-racial, and 19 percent Hispanic), young (51 percent were under age 35), female (72 percent), had dependents under the age of 18 living with them (57 percent), and had some college education at the time of enrollment in counseling (66 percent).
  • About one third (35 percent) of the study participants had become homeowners 18 months after seeking pre-purchase counseling. Those participants who had become homeowners had higher average incomes, more money in savings, and higher credit scores and were more likely to be employed full-time and have a college degree than non-purchasers.
  • Most purchasers had a FICO score of 620 or higher (71 percent), had a signed purchase agreement (31 percent), were reported as having completed counseling by their housing counselor (72 percent), and were assessed as “mortgage-ready” by their housing counselor (66 percent).
  • The study tracked participants at 12 to 18 months after receiving pre-purchase counseling services. Only one of the purchasers had fallen at least 30 days behind on his or her mortgage payments and none had a major derogatory event on a mortgage account.

Note: This study and its companion, Foreclosure Counseling Outcome Study, are part of a series of studies on HUD’s housing counseling program.

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