Homeownership comes with a multitude of benefits for individuals and families, such as higher discretionary incomes and improved education outcomes. Habitat Chicago's Homebuyer University equips participants with the tools, knowledge and game plan to feel ready to enter the homebuying process.


Everyone starts somewhere  

Do you want to be a homeowner, but aren’t sure where to start? We’ll help you figure it out. Come join us and your peers for this eight-class series to learn the ins and outs of buying, budgeting for, and maintaining a home. This program is open to the public, and anyone is welcome to enroll in the series. 


For many people, achieving first time homeownership requires rebuilding credit, managing debt, and establishing and building long-term savings. While enrolled in the Homebuyer University, you will learn about all of these topics and more from experts in the financial and real-estate fields. You will also have the opportunity to talk with these experts in a low-stress, informal classroom setting.  


Throughout the program, Habitat Chicago will take you through the process of creating a personal action plan with goals and next steps that are right for you. You will walk away with the tools and confidence to become a homeowner.  



Program overview 

Comprehensive training: Students will attend a series of 8 classes led by experts in the financial and real-estate fields. Topics include:  

  • Financial Literacy and Planning  

  • Building Credit 

  • Preparing and Qualifying for Homeownership 

  • Laws that Govern the Loan Application Process  

  • Home Maintenance and Repair 


Coaching: Each participant will work through a personal development plan based on individual assessment and goals. You will have the opportunity to meet with a financial advisor at the end of the program to finalize your action plan for future homeownership.  


Financing options: You will be introduced to a range of financing options and their implications in the home buying process, including down payment and closing assistance. You will then be connected directly with the options that best suit your goals and situation.  


The Homebuyer University courses will cover several topics, but the information is all connected. Each class will build on the material presented in previous classes, and you will interact with the curriculum both inside and outside of the classroom. By preparing for each class and working through your personalized action plans, you can get the most out of the program. 



Homebuyer University classes 

Classes will take place every other Saturday over the course of 3 months. Here’s a breakdown of each class: 


Class 1: Orientation 2.5 hrs 

This class provides an overview of the program’s curriculum and discusses key indicators for homeownership readiness. You can begin to assess your individual financial readiness to purchase a home.  

Class 2: Mastering Your Credit, 2.5 hrs 

Covering the topic of credit, this class will discuss the ways that credit plays a role in the lending and loan application process. After analyzing your own credit report, you will create a personal action plan to improve your credit.  

Class 3: Achieving Financial Fitness, 2.5 hrs 

With this introduction to the banking system, you will learn skills to improve your financial health, such as managing multiple bank accounts with an eye toward budgeting and long-term savings.   

Class 4: Navigating Home Buying Nuts and Bolts, 2.5 hrs 

This class provides an overview of the home buying process, from research to closing. Instructors discuss what to consider and expect when looking for a house, and what type of professional help is available. You will begin to evaluate various neighborhoods and determine locations for your future home. 

Class 5: Understanding your Financial History, 2.5 hrs 

Applying for a home loan can require significant documentation. This class breaks down the process of obtaining income and employment verification for a loan application. You will create an action plan for obtaining your personal documentation needed for a loan. 

Class 6: Diving into Mortgages, 2.5 hrs 

Diving deeper into the process of applying for a home loan, this class refers to the required documentation covered in the previous class, as well as new information related to down payment assistance programs. You will leave with a greater understanding of the laws that guide lender actions and your legal rights as an applicant. 

Class 7: Preparing for Holistic Homeownership, 2.5 hrs 

This class discusses the practical and financial implications of owning a home after closing, including taxes, insurance, estate planning and home maintenance. Topics such as home equity, foreclosure, and healthy mortgages are also covered. We will explore how homeownership creates opportunities to civically engage in and shape the community in which you invest.    

Class 8: Committing to a Game Plan + Graduation, 3 hrs 

You will complete the program with an overview of options for lenders in a small group Q&A format. Reflecting on your personalized development plan, you will conduct a final assessment on your progress towards financial and homeownership goals. In a 45-minute advising session, expert advisors can assist you to as you build out your action plan for purchasing a home.  



Class attendance 

The content covered in each class directly relates to the content covered in the previous classes. That’s why it’s very important for students to attend every class in the series. We want you to graduate from the program with a full picture of where you stand, what you will need to do to apply for a home loan, and the action steps and resources you will need to become a homeowner.  


Due to the comprehensive nature of the information covered in this program, enrolled students will be asked to un-enroll if they miss more than one class in the series. 




There will be a fee of $25 for enrollment in the program, which will help to cover course materials. This fee is non-refundable and can be paid at the time of registration. 



Is this right for you? 

Habitat Chicago’s Homebuyer University courses are open to the public, and anyone is welcome to enroll in the series. This program could be right for you if you are: 

  • Interested in becoming a homebuyer in the near future, 

  • Unsure of the options and/or qualifications for buying a home, 

  • Or interested in exploring homeownership but have been denied a mortgage in the past. 



Open enrollment 

At present, our Homebuyer University is not in an open enrollment period. Our next open enrollment period will be in early 2020.



What can you do until then?

1. Let us know you are interested so we can notify you when the enrollment period opens. Fill out the form on this page or call us at (312) 563-0296 x15.

2. Check out our service resources page, which contains information about other service providers in the Chicago area that can assist with financial education and homebuyer counseling. 




You can contact our Homeownership programming team by calling (312) 563-0296 x15 or emailing 




This program is generously supported by:


The Habitat Chicago Emerging Leaders Board

Advanced Group

Finch Beer Co.














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