Buying a home is one of the biggest purchases a consumer will ever make. Although buying and owning a home may seem daunting, prospective Massachusetts homeowners have a wealth of resources to prepare themselves.
HUD-approved housing counseling agencies and Community Development Corporations around Massachusetts provide a variety of information for landlords, tenants, homeowners, and prospective homebuyers. First-time homebuyers can enroll in courses to better prepare for the responsibilities that come with owning a home. Lessons provided through these courses include information about home inspections and maintenance, understanding and obtaining a mortgage, credit and finances, and more.
Staff from the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations has partnered with the Asian Community Development Corporation in Boston to teach first-time homebuyers about understanding credit. In these courses, prospective homebuyers learn how to read a credit report, how to use credit cards wisely, and how to take charge of their finances to prepare for this major purchase.
In June 2013, the Patrick Administration announced the Massachusetts Homeownership Compact that created a goal to provide 10,000 mortgages to first-time homebuyers. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts partnered with banks, credit unions, and other lenders to offer mortgage products that require less money down and provide lower interest rates to first-time homebuyers. One of these mortgage products is offered under the ONE Mortgage Program through the Massachusetts Housing Partnership, and other special mortgage products are offered through MassHousing. Many of these mortgage assistance organizations require prospective homeowners to complete a first-time homebuyer course to be eligible for their programs.
Prospective homeowners should take advantage of these free or very low-cost classes around the Commonwealth to become a savvy first-time homebuyer. For more information about where to find first-time homebuyer courses and low-cost mortgage products, visit the Office of Housing and Economic Development’s First Time Homebuyer page.
May/June Scam Log Analysis posted on Jul 28
The Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation compiles publicly-available scam, identity theft, and fraud complaints from around the Commonwealth via police logs and news outlets, as well as through the Office’s Consumer Information Hotline.
How to Combat Illegal Robocalls posted on Jul 25
Robocalls have become an all-too-common nuisance for consumers. Robocalls are unsolicited, pre-recorded phone calls, often scams, which are made to consumers without their permission, as opposed to calls solicited by the consumer, such as those from pharmacies and childrens’ schools. Robocalls are illegal in Massachusetts under M.G.L. c. 159C. While consumers can, and should, sign-up -for both the state and national Do-Not-Call lists, unfortunately this does not always stop many unscrupulous solicitors and scammers from making these calls.
Summary of the 2015 Consumer Federation of America Annual Consumer Complaint Survey posted on Jul 22
The Consumer Federation of America and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators recently released the results of the 2015 Consumer Complaint Survey. This report is based on consumer information, complaints, and suggestions for increased consumer protections from 33 consumer agencies in 21 states.