The Massachusetts Homeownership Collaborative is an initiative managed by CHAPA that supports and promotes homebuyer education. Through the Massachusetts Homeownership Collaborative, CHAPA provides technical assistance and training to non-profit, homebuyer counseling agencies. These agencies offer homebuyer education workshops and individual homebuyer counseling to prospective homebuyers.
The Massachusetts Homeownership Collaborative also promotes an ongoing dialogue among lenders, real estate professionals, homebuyer counselors, government officials and others supporting homebuyer education.
Since its inception in December 1996, the Massachusetts Homeownership Collaborative has played a critical role in bringing together the major stakeholders in the homeownership field, where previously no such mechanism existed.
The Collaborative has provided professional training, curriculum standards, and best practices criteria for homebuyer counseling agencies across Massachusetts.
Objectives of the Massachusetts Homeownership Collaborative:
- To increase the capacity of homebuyer counseling agencies and help professionalize counseling efforts so these agencies can deliver high quality services to low/moderate income buyers.
- To set best practices and minimum standards for homebuyer counseling agencies and implement a Collaborative "Seal of Approval."
- To act as a clearinghouse and resource to homebuyer counseling agencies, lenders, real estate professionals, government officials and others who want information on homebuyer counseling efforts and related matters in Massachusetts.
The Collaborative Seal of Approval Qualifying Criteria for Massachusetts Homebuyer Counseling Agencies
The Massachusetts Homeownership Collaborative established a "Collaborative Seal of Approval" to recognize Massachusetts homebuyer counseling agencies that meet or exceed a minimum standard in providing effective pre-purchase, group homebuyer counseling and education to low and moderate income, first-time homebuyers.
The Massachusetts Homeownership Collaborative is a collaboration of non-profit homebuyer counseling agencies, lending institutions, real estate professionals, government officials, and other key players in the homeownership industry in Massachusetts. Formed in December 1996, the Massachusetts Homeownership Collaborative has become the mechanism for professionalizing, improving, and bringing standards and consistency to the quality of homebuyer education services across the state.
To earn a Collaborative Seal of Approval, interested counseling agencies must meet or exceed the following criteria:
- Provide homebuyer education targeted to low and moderate income, first-time homebuyers
- Provide group, pre-purchase, homebuyer education workshops that offer at least eight hours of instruction over a minimum of two classes
- Cover all of the material designated as "Core" in the Massachusetts Homeownership Collaborative's Homebuyer Counseling Curriculum at each workshop series
- Distribute the Collaborative's "Core" hand-out materials, or comparable hand-out materials, that supplement the Collaborative's Homebuyer Counseling Curriculum
- Utilize (distribute, collect, correct and redistribute) the Collaborative's subject review worksheets
- Provide, or have counseling staff participate in, on-going training (at least annually)
- Keep accurate records on the prospective homebuyers that attend each workshop series
- Offer the opportunity of individual counseling, if needed, for graduates of group, pre-purchase homebuyer education workshops
- Adhere to the Collaborative's Code of Ethics
- Provide disclosure to workshop participants that describes the agency's adherence to the Collaborative's Code of Ethics and the purpose of the homebuyer education program
- Assist the Collaborative in gathering information when requested
- Agree to on-site monitoring by the Collaborative
- Complete a Collaborative Seal of Approval Application
- Distribute and collect class evaluations from program participants
- Post class schedule on CHAPA's website
The Selection Committee, whose members are elected to staggered two-year terms by the Collaborative, determines awarding of the Collaborative Seal of Approval. After an application is submitted, the Selection Committee reviews it and determines whether the applying counseling agency meets the above criteria. The Seal of Approval process is administered by Citizens' Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA), which manages the Collaborative. Seal of Approval status is awarded for a two-year period.
The Massachusetts Homeownership Collaborative's Code of Ethics
All homebuyer counseling agencies that receive a Collaborative Seal of Approval must adhere to the following Code of Ethics:
- It shall be the primary intent of the counseling agency, its staff and its guest speakers to educate and counsel prospective homebuyers to make informed, voluntary decisions regarding the homebuying process.
- The counseling agency shall disclose to prospective homebuyers how its counseling program is funded, including any financial support it receives from lenders or other relevant institutions.
- Agency staff must not limit the choices of any prospective homebuyer by directing the homebuyer to any one product or service, to the exclusion of other products or services for which the homebuyer may be eligible.
- Agency staff and consultants must not have any personal stake, financial or otherwise, in directing prospective homebuyers to any particular product or service.
- Agency staff and any guest speakers or other representatives must treat all prospective homebuyers with professional respect and courtesy.