What is a housing counselor?

Someone who provides counseling to consumers on seeking, financing, maintaining, renting, or owning a home. The program also addresses homelessness through counseling and assists homeowners in need of foreclosure assistance.

Counseling is provided by HUD certified housing counselors who go through training and receive local and national certifications. They are also versed in local programs available through offices like the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).

A counselor can advise you on rent and eviction prevention by helping clients identify an affordable unit, provide information to renters on tenant rights and fair housing issues. Counseling on household budgeting and good rental practices and connecting clients with community resources available.

Working with a housing counselor can be highly beneficial if you’re a first-time homebuyer for a few reasons:

They can help you make a step-by-step action plan to achieve homeownership, including how to overcome common barriers to homeownership, such as low income, bad credit or no credit and excess credit card debt.

A counselor can help you identify FHA programs that help first-time homebuyers in your area, such as down payment and closing cost assistance programs.

They will help you understand how much home you can afford to buy, so you can narrow your search and ensure you buy a home without facing a high risk of foreclosure.

You start the process by figuring out if you’re really ready to buy and how much home you can afford. You can also determine if there are steps you need to take to become mortgage-ready. That way, you get on a real path to homeownership before you even start looking at properties.

What else does a counselor do?

A housing counselor isn’t just there to help first-time homebuyers. Once you own a home, a housing counselor can still provide assistance and support.

They can answer any questions you have about home equity. For instance, they can help you understand how and when to access the equity in your home, without risking foreclosure. Provide with resources or helping you apply for home repair, and property tax programs.

If you’re facing foreclosure, they can help you understand your options for relief. Whether you want to save your home or simply get out of your mortgage with the least financial and credit damage possible, a housing counselor can help you understand the range of options you have. Then they can review your budget to help you find the best option for your unique financial situation.