The Ultimate Guide to Orange County First-Time Homebuyer Programs


There’s no denying that the home-buying process is complex. Between credit, mortgage applications, and finding affordable housing, there are a lot of moving pieces. 

The good news is that at NeighborWorks Orange County (NWOC), we have the most incredible resources to empower you throughout the entire process.

Together, we will tackle the nuances of your credit score and outline realistic steps you can take to achieve homeownership. While the majority of our services are designed to help you in this process, our comprehensive Homebuyer Workshop will give you all the tools to successfully navigate through the home-buying process. 



What is the First-Time Home Buyer Workshop?

This program digs into the home buying details by going through five different main sections:

     - Credit and Budgeting

     - Lending

     - Real Estate Agent Best Practices

     - Insurance

     - Down Payment Programs

After completing the workshop, you will have a better understanding of what lenders are looking for, finding the ideal realtor, grasp the importance of having the right insurance, understanding the criteria for down payment programs and more!

Both of our in-person and online workshops go through the same material. By offering two different options, you have more versatility to fit the program into your schedule.


Homebuyer Basics (1.5 Hour Course) 

For our clients that are looking for some quick insight without taking the 8-hour workshop, we offer a short 1.5 hour in-person session that gives you the best information to start preparing for the home-buying process. Our Friendly Experts will help you understand how to take the next steps towards homeownership success! You will learn about valuable resources such as down payment programs, housing market updates, and credit tips.


In-Person Workshop (8 Hour Course)

The 8-hour, in-person workshop takes place on a Saturday and also offered on Monday’s. As a HUD-approved Counseling Agency, we bring in industry experts to teach you best practices, industry trends, and cover the basics from each of the five different topic areas. They also teach you how to ensure you are working with a high-quality service provider.

While they are professionals in the industry, they volunteer their time for this course to provide you with objective unbiased teachings, ultimately empowering you through the process.

We are proud to be the only non-profit provider in the county to offer the in-person course in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese. Participants receive a certificate when successfully completing this workshop. 


Online Course (CAL-HFA Only)

For our CAL-HFA clients, in addition to the in-person workshop, we offer an online course through eHome America. This course gives you the flexibility to better fit the course to your busy schedule. You can complete a module, and then come back later to complete another one.

Once you complete the 8 hours’ worth of coursework, a certificate of completion is provided to both the client and lender. We also check in with each of our online clients upon completion to see if they have any questions about the process or next steps.

Why You Want to Take This Course

There are real challenges when it comes to homeownership, particularly in Orange County. That doesn’t mean you can’t achieve it.

Many individuals take this course to satisfy the requirements from their lender. We applaud them for joining us! But we want to encourage anyone looking to purchase a home in the future to join us.

This course is about empowerment and knowledge. The more you know and understand about the process, the better poised for home ownership success you become.

Many individuals who suffered from a foreclosure or short sale earlier in life come through our course. Each one leaves with the resounding comment, “I wish I had taken this course before I bought my first home.”

You have the chance to do just that. 

Additionally, 80% of our participants come to learn more about down payment assistance programs they may qualify for. Even with information so easily accessible these days, the majority of homebuyers are unfamiliar with the different down payment assistance programs that might be available to them and for which they do not know they qualify.  We have residents from neighboring counties, such as San Diego and San Bernardino County, join us for this specific reason.

No matter their motives for attending, 100% of the attendees say they benefited from the course. If you are looking to give yourself the best possible tools on your journey to home ownership, sign up today


Who Classifies as a First-Time Homebuyer

While this may seem like a simple question, in reality it doesn’t necessarily mean someone who has never owned a home before.

If you lost your home to foreclosure or a short sale, you are reclassified as a first-time homebuyer a few years after that process closes. This means you are re-eligible for down payment assistance and other first-time homebuyer programs. Individuals who are in this category are referred to as the boomerang population.


The Holistic Approach

At NeighborWorks Orange County (NWOC), we believe in providing holistic services to walk with you throughout the entire journey to achieve homeownership. Whether you are 20 and newly married or 70 with the zeal to realize the American dream, we meet you where you are on your path.

Our services start with the homeownership workshop, empowering you with knowledge. Then you can sit down with a HomeOwner Coach to identify exactly where you are in the process, creating a tailored plan to help get you ready faster. Next we have a non-commissioned realtor to assist you in selecting the home for your family. And when it comes time to apply for your loan and down payment programs, we offer robust options right here at NWOC. 

This holistic approach stems from our mission to empower individuals on the path to homeownership. Together we can help make that dream a reality for you and your family.