Benefits of a Housing Counselor

Are you looking for assistance with your mortgage? Do you want to buy a home or require help on potential foreclosure? Homeownership can be a challenge to achieve and maintain throughout the process. This is why it is important to use the tools available to help you out with the process. There are different types of options that you can think about. One of the most beneficial options is receiving help from a housing counselor that received approval from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). But, you might not realize just how much a housing counselor can improve your housing situation.

Housing Counselors: A Definition

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approves and sponsors housing counselors that received special training. These certified counselors can provide assistance to individuals and provide further understanding of their financial situation. Additionally, these counselors can help with foreclosure prevention guidance, mortgage assistance, deal with mortgage servicers, and much more! The best part is that these certified counselors are available all across the United States.

What are the Different Types of Counseling Services

There are many different concerns that housing counselors can help you with. The most common types of counseling you can receive from these housing counselors are as follows:

  • Pre-Purchase Counseling
  • FHA Loan Counseling
  • VA Counseling
  • USDA Counseling
  • Reverse Mortgage Counseling
  • Foreclosure Counseling

Pre-Purchase Counseling

The process of buying a home is never easy. If this is the first time you are buying a home then it can be a daunting prospect. Additionally, in the case that you are not particularly sure about your finances, then you might find the homebuying process as challenging. This is why pre-purchase counseling is so important! There is an extensive process that comes with buying a home. This includes the application process, the paperwork, finding a lender and a good mortgage, and more! Housing counselors will be able to provide guidance and more information on this process. They will help you throughout the entire process, one step at a time.

FHA Loan Counseling

Sometimes, you might find that a standard mortgage could not be the best option for you. This is why you might gain a lot of benefits from a loan that the Federal Government supports, such as the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan. One of the requirements to receive this loan is to get housing counseling. Housing counselors can help potential homeowners understand their financial situation. When you finish the mandatory counseling sessions, you can receive an FHA loan. Just make sure that you are eligible for the loan.

VA Counseling

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) knows how difficult it can be for veterans to deal with housing issues, specifically the issue of homelessness. Fortunately, the homelessness rate within veterans is decreasing, according to the VA website. But, there are still homeless veterans out there. This is why housing counseling is important. Housing counselors can offer the knowledge to help with the financial struggle that veterans face. If you are a veteran and you want housing counseling assistance, then you can reach out to this number 877-827-3702 for toll-free help.

USDA Counseling

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) designed Guaranteed Rural Housing Program loans. But, these loans might be needed for you to receive housing counseling to receive approval. It depends on your situation. But, you should keep this in mind when you are applying for a Guaranteed Rural Housing Program loan.

Reverse Mortgage Counseling

Qualifying seniors can receive the benefits of a reverse mortgage. These reverse mortgages offer older individuals the opportunity to take advantage of the equity of their home. There are a lot of people who choose this form of mortgage. It is a way to supplement their income, which is why it is a very common option. You will find that the Federal Government does not back all reverse mortgages. There is actually only one reverse mortgage that the Federal Government supports, which is the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM). If you are interested in an HECM, then you should discuss this option with a housing counselor. counselors will be able to offer in-depth information on reverse mortgages, eligibility requirements, alternatives, and more.

Foreclosure Counseling

Homeowners constantly aim to avoid and prevent foreclosure at all costs. Many people assume that it would never happen to them. But, the truth is that it can happen to anyone. This is why foreclosure counseling is beneficial. Homeowners in need will receive assistance from housing counselors on how to prevent foreclosure. If you are currently financially struggling and you cannot manage your monthly payments, then you should get the help you need as soon as possible.

Counselors Are Not Able to Give You Guarantees

You need to keep in mind that a housing counselor will only offer advice based on the information you provide. Housing counselors cannot guarantee anything about your housing situation, especially if you are in the process of potential foreclosure. In the case that you are facing potential foreclosure, then you should reach out to an attorney.

Make sure that you only reach out to housing counselors that the HUD approves. You do not want to contact a random agency. You are probably going to provide a lot of sensitive information about your personal situation. This is why you need to be careful about the people you share this information with.

How Does Housing Counseling Operate?

There is a step-by-step process for literally everything! Housing counseling is no exception in this regard. If you want to receive assistance from housing counselors, then there are three major steps that you need to follow:

Firstly, you need to look for a counselor that will help you look for a counselor that the HUD approves for. You need to make sure to research the counselor you need help for before you decide on which one to go to.

Secondly, you need to get in touch and contact with the housing counselor. Once you choose your housing counselor that the HUD approves, you can reach out to them.

Finally, you need to offer information. The housing counselor will ask you for sensitive information about your current financial situation, in order to provide assistance. You may need to present documents to show your financial situation! Once the housing counselor has all the details they need, they can offer in-depth information and potential solutions.

Finding a Housing Counselor

The HUD offers several methods for you to reach out to a housing counselor that they approve of. You can go online and look for the Department’s housing counseling page and choose a counselor on a map or with a zip code. Another way to contact a housing counselor is through the phone. You can try the toll-free HUD housing counseling locator or the HOPE hotline. Finally, you can find them through the Apple App Store with an application called the HUD Resource Locator. This application offers location and contact information for HUD resources in your area.  You can find local housing counseling agencies, as well.

Regardless of the way you look for a housing counselor, you need to make sure that you take the time to look. When you finished your search and made a list of counselors, you wanted to research your options. All certified counselors from the HUD are legitimate and trustworthy. But, there are housing counselors that focus on a certain specialty. This is why it is important to research the counselors first.

What to Expect if You Get in Touch with a Housing Counselor

You might find it scary to start a conversation with a housing counselor. If you have never contacted a housing counselor, then you might be discouraged to do so. You can expect that a housing counselor will ask questions about your home loan, your payment history, and your mortgage terms. Additionally, they might need documentation about your financial situation. All of these details can help your housing counselor get a general idea on how to help you and improve your housing situation.

What Documents Should You Prepare?

The housing counselor will need financial information to help you out. This is why it would be a good idea to plan ahead and bring these documents with you:

  • Tax returns
  • Pay stubs
  • Bank statements
  • List of monthly expenses
  • The date and amount of your last mortgage payment available for foreclosure concerns

The housing counselor will require a complete presentation of your current financial situation to provide guidance for you throughout the process. Without this financial information, they will not know how they can provide assistance and what you can afford to pay.

Housing Counseling Fees

Housing counselors are legally allowed to charge people reasonable fees for their sessions. But, the agency must meet certain requirements that the HUD sets. This includes:

  • The housing counselors are not allowed to charge hidden fees for services they consider extra without first notifying the client that it is excluded from the original quoted price.
  • The fees must be in proportion to the services they provide to the client.
  • If a person proves that they cannot afford to pay the fee, the agency is obligated to provide that person with counseling for free.

Before you speak to a counselor, you need to make sure that you keep an open mind and have all of the necessary documents with you.

In Conclusion

Do not be afraid, housing counseling can only help you. You should make sure that you do your research when you look for a housing counselor. Keep in mind that the only housing counselors you should deal with are the housing counselors that the Housing and Urban Development Department approves of. They will help you with your current situation and improve your life significantly.

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