First-time Homebuyer

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka with Bonita Holmes, NJCAEF’s Director of Loan Counseling & Loss Mitigation, greeted the more than 350 first-time homebuyers who attended our free seminar in Newark.”

Thinking of buying a home?  The New Jersey Citizen Action Education Fund is here to assist you in achieving your dream of homeownership.

NJCAEF provides free one-on-one counseling to first-time homebuyers seeking to purchase a home in New Jersey. Our housing counseling service is certified by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD), and our counselors are certified by NeighborWorks America. Over 37,000 individuals and families have participated in NJCAEF’s housing counseling program since it first began in 1992. Since this time, more than 13,500 individuals have purchased homes through our program. Counseling services are available in English and Spanish.

NJCAEF’s First-time Homebuyer Counseling Provides:

  • Assistance in developing a personal long- or short-term action plan for resolving credit problems
  • Extended counseling to eliminate bad credit problems
  • Guidance in preparing a budget
  • Information and preparation for homeownership
  • Prequalification services that let you know how much of a house you can really afford
  • Information on special affordable and/or discounted mortgages and special grants or downpayment assistance for first-time homebuyers purchasing a home in New Jersey

First-time homebuyers interested in participating in our program will receive one-on-one assistance from one of our qualified counselors, who will assist them through the entire homebuying process – from understanding the pros and cons associated with owning vs. renting, to becoming “credit ready,” and ultimately “mortgage ready.”

As part of this process, your loan counselor will meet with you to evaluate your current financial situation, and explain the steps you should take to reach your goal of homeownership. The goal of NJCAEF’s first-time homebuyer program is to provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision, and have the resources you need to access a mortgage that you can afford.

New Jersey homeowners who are having trouble with their mortgage can participate in NJCAEF’s foreclosure counseling service. As part of the foreclosure counseling process, a Citizen Action loan counselor will meet with individuals to review their situations, understand the cause of their financial hardship, and develop an appropriate plan of action.


  • Income documentation – last three pay stubs or other proof of income for all applicants
  • Monthly expenses – all credit cards personal loans, car loans, etc. (all payments your household makes each month)
  • Last three bank statements – on any accounts in which you have savings or checking
  • Last two year’s tax returns (W-2’s and 1040’s)
  • Social Security numbers – for all applicants.
  • $25.00 for each applicant – fee for tri-merged credit report (unless you have a recent copy of report with scores); there is no fee for counseling.

CERTIFICATIONS: NJCAEF is a HUD-certified housing counseling agency. Our counselors are certified by NeighborWorks America. Citizen Action has adopted the National Industry Standards for Homeownership Education and Counseling.  NJCAEF is not an approved Credit Counseling Agency or a provider of an approved Personal Financial Management Instructional Course by the Executive Office for United States Trustees.

HOW TO APPLY (English & Español)

To sign up for NJCAEF’s free first-time homebuyer or foreclosure counseling services:

  1. Access our secure online application and submit it directly online (English);
  2. Call 1-800-NJ-OWNER [1-800-656-9637] to have a copy of the application mailed to you;
  3. Print out a copy of the application and mail or fax it to:

NJCAEF Loan Counseling Service
625 Broad Street, Suite 270
Newark, NJ 07102
Fax: (973) 643-8100

Citizen Action’s online application has SSL and Data Encryption security features.

On the ENGLISH APPLICATION FORM, the first question will ask you what type of counseling you need. This application form may be completed and submitted online, or printed and faxed or mailed to our office. Please keep a copy of your completed application for your records.

The SPANISH APPLICATION FORM must be printed out, completed, and scanned/emailed, faxed, or mailed back to our office. Once your application is received by NJCAEF, our Intake Coordinator will process the application and forward it to your assigned loan counselor.

For more information, or if you have any questions, please email our Office Administrator at We look forward to working with you!

Special thanks to our Sponsors and Partners: The New Jersey Citizen Action Education Fund would not be able to provide these free services to individuals and families without the help of our sponsors and partners:

Alma Bank
Bank of America
BB&T Bank
Capital One Bank
Cathay Bank
Citibank, N.A.
County of Essex
Housing & Community Development Network of NJ
HSBC Bank, N.A.
Investors Bank
JPMorgan Chase
Kearny Federal Savings Bank
M&T Bank
New Jersey Citizen Action
PNC Bank, N.A.
Roselle Savings Bank
RSI Bank
Santander Bank, N.A.
Schumann Fund for NJ
Sun National Bank
TD Bank, N.A.
The Provident Bank
Union County Savings Bank
U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD)
Valley National Bank
Victoria Foundation
Wells Fargo Bank