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One of the most important things a borrower can do in the home loan planning stage is to turn to an expert for pre-purchase planning advice. The FHA and HUD offer a referral service to help borrowers make good plans and be well-prepared when purchasing a home.

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News and Updates for Homeowners

HUD Releases Updated Housing Counseling Guidelines

HUD Releases Updated Housing Counseling Guidelines
March 3, 2017 - One of the most important things a borrower can do in the home loan planning stage is to turn to an expert for pre-purchase planning advice. The FHA and HUD offer a referral service to local, HUD-approved housing counselors to assist borrowers in making good plans to purchase a home and to be well-prepared for the FHA application process.

To get such a referral, potential borrowers should contact the FHA directly at their toll-free number (1-800 CALL FHA) to request a referral. In some cases, certain types of counseling are actually required as a condition of FHA loan approval; this is true for FHA Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM), where all borrowers must attend counseling to insure they understand the nature of HECM loans, their terms, and the rules that affect when the loan is due and payable.

The FHA/HUD official site announced recent changes to HUD’s requirements for HUD-approved housing counseling. According to a press release (HUDNo.16-190) at HUD.gov, “The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today announced it will require that housing counselors participating in HUD programs to be certified to offer counseling services to consumers.”

This is an important change in the requirements for counselors who wish to be HUD-approved. To do so, the press release states housing counselors must “pass a standardized written examination and work for a HUD-approved housing counseling agency (HCA).” The new HUD requirements state that counselors must “demonstrate competency in each of the following areas of housing counseling:
  • financial management;
  • property maintenance;
  • responsibilities of homeownership and tenancy;
  • fair housing laws and requirements;
  • housing affordability; and
  • avoidance of, and responses to, rental and mortgage delinquency and avoidance of eviction and mortgage default.”
These new requirements will go into full effect “three years following the release of the certification examination” according to the official site. Counselors can prepare for the exam with the help of “intensive training and study resources (in English and Spanish)” made available to HUD “counseling stakeholders.”

At the time of this writing, HUD has promised that “a practice test will be available soon while the actual certification test is “expected to be published in the Spring of 2017”. Once the new HUD’s requirements are fully implemented, the HUD official site says, “housing counseling required by HUD or provided in connection with any HUD program will meet common standards and will be delivered by a HUD certified counselor working for a HUD-approved housing counseling agency.”
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