HUD-Approved Housing Counseling
HUD counseling is a type of housing help that you can seek for just about any question you may have about renting or owning a home. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) does not directly provide counseling, itself. Rather, HUD approved housing counseling is provided at private counseling companies throughout the U.S. There are thousands of agencies that you can visit in order to receive official help from approved counselors.
HUD counseling agencies offer many types of guidance that can help, no matter your housing situation. You can get assistance regardless of your age, income or where you live. Counseling is even provided if you are homeless, or are in danger of becoming homeless. These services cover a wide range of topics that can help you, no matter what your housing goals are. Below, learn more about the benefits of receiving counseling, and find out how to locate a counselor in your area.
The Benefits of Using HUD Counseling
Talking to an HUD certified housing counselor has countless benefits. A counselor can point you in the right direction if you do not know where to begin with your housing goals, or can offer specific tips for issues such as how to avoid foreclosure. These professionals offer more than just generic educational resources. Rather, they provide specific steps that can help you achieve your goals. Counseling is offered in a one-on-one setting, which allows you to receive specialized help that is tailored to your unique situation.
HUD counseling agencies help through various different methods. Because each renter, homeowner or prospective homeowner has a different situation, help may come in the form of:
- Creating a budget that makes it easier to afford a mortgage or save money.
- Setting more realistic housing goals.
- Improving a credit score so that it is easier to get approved for financing.
- Tackling debt to make it more manageable.
- Modifying loans in order to reduce payments.
- Taking steps to avoid foreclosure.
Who is eligible to receive HUD approved counseling?
HUD counselors help just about anyone who needs assistance, including those seeking information on equal housing issues. Furthermore, you are allowed to ask for help with nearly any housing concern, not just HUD-related issues. In other words, you do not need to be a participant in a HUD program in order to receive assistance from a counselor.
HUD housing counseling agencies will also provide assistance regardless of your age, housing status or financial situation. Whether you are a senior, first-time homebuyer, renter or someone experiencing homelessness, counselors will offer their services.
How much does HUD counseling cost?
In most cases, getting HUD approved homebuyer education will require paying a fee. However, agencies cannot charge fees for certain types of counseling, such as homelessness help or foreclosure assistance. Aside from that, counselors can charge you for essentially any other type of service, such as mortgage help, housing education and rental assistance.
Even for these types of counseling from the HUD, an agency may make an exception if you demonstrate that you cannot afford to pay for the service before receiving it. In any case, agencies are required to tell you what fees you should expect to pay before receiving help so that you can make an informed decision. The fee structure will vary, based on the level of service provided, with more complex forms of counseling costing more, in most cases.
Types of HUD Counseling Services
Whether you are looking for HUD foreclosure help or any other type of assistance, it is possible to find help from a counselor. There are many different services available, like:
- Pre-purchase and homebuying tips, including how to find financing you can afford, and how to close on a house.
- Preventing and resolving foreclosure, which covers how to manage and restructure debt, as well as mitigate the losses associated with foreclosure.
- Home and financial maintenance, such as creating a budget, understanding home equity, refinancing a home and making home improvements.
- Finding and securing rental housing, which covers various federal and state programs available, as well as how to search for housing.
- Reverse mortgage help, which goes over financial products that allow a homeowner to withdraw equity that a home has accumulated.
- Homelessness help, such as where to find shelter and other emergency resources.
Each of these services comes with additional forms of help. Learn more about FHA loans and related resources by downloading our informative guide.
What are HUD-approved counselors required to do?
When visiting HUD housing counseling agencies, it helps to know what to expect from your appointment. Counselors are required to perform certain activities when you go in for an appointment. Most importantly, the counselor must provide one of the services described in the section above, which will help you make decisions about your housing goals. In addition, agencies are required to offer a variety of options when discussing your housing goals, rather than promoting a single solution.
HUD counselors will also make an action plan that is unique to your situation, and analyze your finances so that you can see your progress and areas for improvement. You can also expect to receive referrals to different state and federal programs if the counselor is not able to provide the exact form of assistance you need.
Finally, counseling will include follow-up communication so that you can ask any questions that may arise after your services are complete. Learn more about FHA loan basics by downloading our comprehensive guide.
Where to Find HUD Approved Counseling
You can find a HUD first time homebuyer class or other types of assistance at providers throughout the country. There are thousands of HUD counseling agencies available, making it easy to find services in your community or a nearby city. When looking for counselors, keep in mind that some agencies specialize in certain services more than other. Before making an appointment with a particular organization, check to make sure that the service you need is provided.
If you need help finding a counselor, you may contact HUD for assistance. You can learn everything you need to know about FHA loans by reading our detailed guide here.