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What Does a Housing Counselor Do?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 23 November 2016
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A housing counselor assists people with questions related to buying, keeping, or refinancing a home. These services may be provided free of charge to low-income members of the public through an organization, and they can also be paid. Certifications or licenses may be required to work as a housing counselor, depending on regional laws and policies. Having certifications, even if not required, can help in this career by making someone a more appealing job applicant.

One part of a housing counselor’s role involves talking to people who want to buy homes. These clients can discuss the type of home they need and their budget. The counselor can help identify lending options, help make sure clients are financially prepared, and offer advice. This may include tips on consolidating existing debt, lowering payments, and taking other steps to reduce monthly expenses. Counselors can also review loan offers and terms and provide information for clients to help them select the best loan for their needs and learn to identify unfavorable terms.

People facing foreclosure may choose to meet with a housing counselor. The session can include a discussion on various options for handling the situation, including appealing to the bank or walking away from the loan. Housing counselors may help with refinancing, debt consolidation, and other measures to help people keep their homes. They have access to information about the latest plans and programs to aid struggling homeowners, including community-based grants and other local assistance that may help.

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Refinancing, particularly reverse mortgages, can also be part of the advising services provided. People thinking about refinancing can find it helpful to meet with a housing counselor to discuss the risks and benefits. This may help them decide if the move is right for them. Counselors can offer help with soliciting competing quotes, filling out complex applications, and other tasks associated with refinancing to make sure their clients get the best deal and are treated fairly.

The focus in this career is on housing, but personal finance advice is often part of the job. Housing counselors need a complete picture of the client’s financial situation, including resources, debts, and expenses. They can help people with financial planning, controlling debt, and finding access to counseling if they have trouble with compulsive spending or debt that is too high to repay. This may include referrals to debt counselors and advisers who can connect clients with services like student loan forbearance or advice on negotiating credit card debt.

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