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Housing Counseling: Your Trusted Path to Homeownership

I have heard it said, “African Americans don’t do counseling.” My response is always, “Why not?” If you were sick, you’d go see a doctor. If your car needed some engine work, you’d go to a mechanic. If you wanted to get your praise on, you’d go to a house of worship. The premise behind this formula is simple. You need help for a specific issue, you get the help you need from a subject matter expert to address that issue. So, why not go to counseling? What makes counseling so different? There are many types of counseling; career, educational, marital, spiritual, and more. For the purpose of this article, I will be discussing housing counseling.

So, let’s start at the beginning. What is housing counseling? The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) describes housing counseling as services designed to educate consumers about the home buying process and the benefits and risks of homeownership. These programs work to support sustainable homeownership as an outcome that provides homebuyers with housing stability and financial independence.

To help you better understand housing counseling and get the support you need in your pursuit of homeownership, I have listed some key points to consider:

1. Why should you want to work with a housing counselor?

It works!!! Through the “Pre-Purchase Counseling Outcome Study,” HUD found that 35 percent of participants became homeowners within 18 months of pre-purchase counseling.1

After reviewing the data from their 2013 study on the benefit of pre-purchase housing counseling the executives at Freddie Mac said, “We find that [pre-purchase housing] counseling reduces the delinquency rate of first-time homebuyers by 29 percent.”2

2. Who should you be dealing with when preparing to buy your home?

You should always work with a HUD-approved housing counselor. 

3. What is a HUD-approved housing counselor?

A trained professional who is certified by the government to help you assess your financial situation, help to determine if you are ready for homeownership, help to evaluate your loan options and create a plan to help you qualify for an affordablemortgage. 

4. Why is it important for you to work with a HUD-approved housing counselor?

First and foremost, they are certified by the government. A HUD-approved housing counselor cannot promise that you will get your home right away for exactly the price you want. They will, however, help you look at your options and decidewhat’s affordable and right for you.

5. How can you find a HUD-approved housing counselor?

There are different ways to find a HUD-approved housing counselor: 

Use the CFPB’s Find a Counselor tool to get a list of HUD-approved counseling agencies in your area.
Call the HOPE Hotline, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at (888) 995-HOPE (4673) 
Call the CFPB at (855) 411-CFPB (2372) to be connected to a HUD-approved housing counselor over the phone

In closing, here are the key takeaways:

Don’t buy into the hype that, “African Americans don’t do counseling.” If you have an issue and counseling of any benefit, you make sure to get the help you need.
Know that pre-purchase housing counseling works.
Trust that support from a HUDcertified counselor can be a tremendous help to anyone preparing to buy a home.
A HUD-approved housing counselor will help you look at your options and decide that’s affordable and right for you.

NOTES:
1.) HUD study highlights benefits of housing counseling by Tanisha Warner
2.)
The Undeniable Benefits of Housing Counseling Are Worth Every Cent by Garrick T. Davis

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