Real estate agents and mortgage lenders know that home buyers — especially first-time buyers – need to know more before they buy a home.

And, real estate companies and mortgage lenders know they need customers in order for their businesses to flourish.

So why not kill two birds with one stone? Come up with a great way to educate buyers and soon they’ll be flocking at your doorstep. At least that’s the approach many lenders and brokers have taken.

It must be working, because I’ve been receiving more press releases about various new education programs.

This week, the Mortgage Bankers Association of America (MBA), a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit trade association consisting of several hundred thousand mortgage lenders nationwide, announced that a new, free home buyer education program would now be available at their consumer web site (

According to Jonathan Kempner, the MBA’s president and CEO, the new home buyer course “is a quick and effective way of educating and informing consumers through the often stressful and confusing home-buying process.”

The course, called “Consumer Homebuyer Education: Homebuyer Basics” consists of three lessons, “Managing Your Money,” “The Home Buying Process,” and “Keeping Your Home,” which can be completed at your own pace.

Course topics include the benefits of buying a house, how to establish and manage credit, how to develop a family budget, how to select a home and a neighborhood, how to avoid predatory lenders, how to conduct pre-purchase and follow-up inspections, and how to maintain your new home after closing.

After taking the self-assessment quiz at the end of each lesson, home buyers conclude the course by taking the final exam. If you pass, you get an MBA certificate of completion to hang on the wall of your new home.

Of course, there is no free lunch. H&R Block Mortgage is sponsoring the course in order to collect the names of people who are looking to buy a home and would likely be getting a mortgage.

Before you can click onto the course, you have to input all of your contact information, including your name, address, phone number and email. At the bottom, in tiny grey type, the site informs you that with your permission, H&R Block Mortgage will be given your personal information in order to “contact you to answer questions you may have about the lending process and to tell you about their loan products.”

In other words, weâ€ââ€Â¢ll share some basic information with you and in return we’ll call you to pitch our mortgage products.

You do have the option of opting out of their financial database, and hopefully that means if you decide you don’t need any more email or phone calls from companies pitching you products, and mark “do not give my personal information to H&R Block Mortgage,” you won’t get any phone calls.

What I found once I entered all of my information surprised me. Apparently, some names have already been entered into the database. My name was already there, as was the name of an assistant who worked for me several years ago.

It’s becoming a very small web world.