Housing Counseling Overview
We believe housing counseling from a HUD-approved nonprofit housing counseling agency can help expand the pool of mortgage-eligible buyers. For consumers deemed ineligible and who need customized assistance to become mortgage-ready, counseling may be the best pathway to homeownership.
The lender role: Developing partnerships with counseling agencies
Lenders can establish partnerships with local HUD-approved counseling agencies in their markets or work with national counseling intermediaries that provide call center-based services. Simple activities can make a big difference. For example, lenders can co-sponsor outreach activities, such as homeownership fairs or classes, to help potential buyers prepare for ownership. Lenders also can refer declined applicants to counselors who can help them get on track to becoming successful homeowners.
How does housing counseling work and what are the benefits?
Housing counseling, also known as advising, is best suited for borrowers facing complex challenges – those who need one-on-one assistance to develop a deep understanding of their housing needs, household budget, and how to resolve potential issues. Counseling is described as one-on-one assistance that addresses unique financial circumstances and housing issues, and focuses on overcoming specific obstacles to achieve housing goals such as:
- repairing credit
- locating cash for a down payment
- recognizing predatory lending practices
- understanding fair lending and fair housing requirements
- avoiding foreclosure
- resolving a financial crisis
All housing counseling involves the creation of a budget and written action plan, and may include a homeownership education component, such as Fannie Mae HomeView®. HomeView provides a 360-degree perspective on the homebuying process.
Counseling should occur as early as possible and before a buyer selects a home. Required components must be completed before a buyer enters into a contract to purchase a home.
The assistance must meet HUD standards and cover the content detailed on the Certificate of Completion of Housing Counseling (Fannie Mae Form 1017), which must be signed by the buyer and the HUD counselor. By signing the form, the HUD counselor certifies that the assistance provided meets HUD standards and our requirements. The lender must retain the completed Form 1017 in the loan file.
For transactions where homeownership education is required, housing counseling completed prior to executing the sales contract can be used to fulfill the homeownership education requirement. And exclusively for HomeReady purchase transactions on which buyers have received customized assistance from HUD approved nonprofit counseling agencies, lenders will receive a $500 loan-level price adjustment credit for HomeReady loans delivered with Special Feature Code 184.