HUD counseling is one of the most useful resources at your disposal, no matter where you are in your path to homeownership. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides this service, as well as a wide variety of other programs, to help you buy a home, avoid issues such as foreclosure or reconfigure a loan through the FHA streamline refinance option from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Many HUD resources are free or low-cost, meaning that you can oftentimes get the information you need without having to pay large fees.
In addition to these resources, fair housing rights are also protected by the HUD. If you believe that you are the victim of discrimination, the HUD provides a way for you to file a complaint and, if necessary, receive representation at a trial if your case goes to court. As with many other programs, representation under the equal housing opportunity program is provided by the HUD at no cost. Learn more about all of the additional resources the HUD offers below.
What is HUD approved housing counseling?
HUD counseling is an excellent resource for all homeowners and prospective homebuyers. HUD counseling agencies are certified by the HUD in order to provide their services. Topics covered by counselors include:
- Managing home finances.
- Creating a budget.
- Finding affordable housing.
- Setting financial goals.
- Reducing debt.
All of these steps help homeowners and buyers achieve their housing goals with more confidence, and allow them to receive guidance along the way.
It is a common misconception that you need to be a participant in a government housing program in order to receive counseling from an approved agency. In reality, HUD-approved counseling is available, no matter your housing situation. You can receive help, regardless of whether you currently own a home or use a government mortgage, such as an FHA-insured loan. Furthermore, you do not need to meet income requirements in order to receive this type of counseling.
In most cases, receiving HUD approved counseling requires that you pay a fee for your services. However, counseling is provided at no cost when you are getting help with a foreclosure, or if you are currently experiencing homelessness when you seek out the help of a counselor. If you believe that an agency is violating these requirements, it is important to report the issue to the HUD, right away.
Download our comprehensive guide to get information about loan resources.
How to Complete an FHA Streamline Refinance
The FHA streamline process involves refinancing your home so that you can benefit from better mortgage terms or interest rates. This option is only available if you already have an FHA-insured loan, and you are not already behind on your mortgage payments. Additionally, you can only refinance a loan using this program if doing so would provide a financial benefit. This is unlike certain other refinancing options, which do not necessarily have to provide financial benefits to you by law.
It is important to note that the streamline refinance process is a type of “no-cash-out” refinance, meaning that you can only complete this in order to reconfigure your loan, not to withdraw equity from your home. Furthermore, the term “streamlining” only refers to the fact that a streamlined refinance comes with less paperwork for your lender and you, not that you can receive this service at no cost. Although it is not free to use this service, you will oftentimes find that the reduced amount of paperwork and desirable loan terms you can receive make it a worthwhile option.
If you are interested in streamlining an FHA refinance, you will have to start by finding a lender who is qualified to deal with FHA loans. Be aware that not all lenders are HUD-certified, however.
How to Stop Foreclosure
Seeking out foreclosure help is important to do – as soon as you fall behind on your mortgage payments, or realize that you may not be able to afford your mortgage in the near future. In order to learn how to avoid foreclosure, you should always take action, as soon as possible, rather than waiting. If you do not act quickly enough, you will have fewer options, and you may find that it is already too late to get your house back.
There are several options that may allow you to prevent foreclosure, but keep in mind that your choices may vary, based on the type of loan you have, as well as the policies of your lender. First and foremost, it is important to communicate with your lender as soon as you realize that there is a problem. Never ignore letters or other forms of communication that your lender may send, as they will usually contain important information about your rights and responsibilities, as well as the legal actions that the lender can take.
Depending on your situation, you may be able to stop the foreclosure, and keep your existing mortgage. Alternatively, you can participate in federal programs that allow you to refinance your mortgage or take out an additional loan in order to cover your upcoming or past-due payments. As a last resort, you can work with your lender to try selling your house before it goes into foreclosure, or give the property back to the lender to avoid certain consequences.
Know Your Fair Housing Rights
Many homebuyers do not realize that they are protected by equal opportunity housing rights in the same way that renters are. Under the Fair Housing Act, lenders, sellers, insurance companies, realtors and other entities are not allowed to discriminate against homebuyers based on race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability or family status.
What counts as housing discrimination is oftentimes clear, but in many situations, discrimination is not obvious. Therefore, homebuyers should always become familiar with fair housing laws before beginning the buying process.
In the event that a homebuyer faces discrimination, he or she can file a complaint with the HUD. Fair housing complaints are investigated thoroughly, and oftentimes, result in administrative law judge hearings, or even civil trials in a Federal District Court. In the event a complainant does not want to go to court, disputes can also be reconciled privately with the help of the HUD.
Learn more about FHA loans downloading our informative guide.