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Learn About Housing Counseling Services

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides housing counseling for seniors who have never bought a home before or who have not gone through the process in a while.

Seniors may benefit from housing counseling services to learn about the programs available to them and to obtain favorable lending terms. HUD sponsors housing counseling agencies all over the country to give senior, as well as others advice for a small fee and, in some cases, for free. If a senior would like to talk to a housing counselor, then the professionals who work with HUD are trained to give advice on how to buy an HUD home, how to avoid going through a foreclosure, defaulting, reverse mortgages, credit problems and more. Representatives can also help seniors who need advice about renting. For more information on these services or how to use them, please refer to the sections below.

About Buying and Renting Services

HUD’s housing counseling service has programs for people in many different situations. Through home buying counseling, people can find affordable houses to purchase in their area. HUD also has a number of “HUD Houses” that people can buy. Seniors should call the HUD housing counseling services hotline to inquire more about these homes. HUD has a special foreclosure avoidance sector, complete with a hotline that seniors can call. The counselors even provide assistance with home improvements. Housing counseling can also help people who need to find HIV/AIDS housing near them. In situations where the senior is already renting a space, the counselors can help them with housing discrimination issues and tenant rights assistance.

Where are these housing counseling services?

To provide housing counseling to anyone who needs it, HUD works with agencies all over the country.

HUD has a list of approved housing counseling agencies that seniors may use no matter where they are in the country. If seniors need specific information on HUD housing counseling, then they may search this list by service. For example, they may search their state for a reverse-mortgage counselor or a foreclosure-avoidance counselor. They can also search for housing or home buying counseling by state, city or zip code. This directory is the easiest way to find a counseling agency that participates in this program in the senior’s area. HUD also has an app that seniors can download for easy access to the directory and to search for counseling agencies on the go.

What are Housing Counseling fees?

Seniors can contact HUD for housing counseling services if they would like to learn how to prevent undergoing foreclosure. Talking to a housing counselor regarding foreclosure prevention is free as well as counseling about homelessness. All agencies that are a part of the Housing Counseling Program sponsored by HUD are not permitted to charge recipients for these services. These housing counseling agencies are partially funded by HUD in partnership with NeighborWorks America. If a senior is charged a fee for one of these services, then he or she should not pay it.

Not all services provided through these housing counseling programs are free, though. For other services, housing counseling offices are allowed to charge a small fee. It is important for seniors to understand which HUD services may require a fee. This includes counseling regarding pre-purchase, reverse mortgages, renting, non-delinquency post-purchase counseling and more. If the agencies are going to charge for these services, then they must meet certain criteria. Though housing counseling agencies are allowed to charge for the aforementioned services, they must give counseling services free of charge to people who prove that they cannot afford to pay the normal prices. The agency must also tell the recipient about the fees before the services are provided. HUD’s program also ensures that agencies can only charge fees that are on par with the level and amount of service provided. If a senior has used a housing agency that did not comply with these rules, then he or she should contact the Office of Housing Counseling sector of HUD. Download our housing guide for details on requesting free housing counseling.

How to Avoid Foreclosure With Housing Counseling

There are specific programs available to help people avoid foreclosures that housing counseling agencies can go over with a client. All of the counseling agencies sponsored by HUD are equipped to give seniors information on these services. One of these programs is the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan also known as HASP. Seniors may be eligible for a Making Home Affordable loan adjustment or to refinance and reduce their monthly payments. This service is meant to help people keep their homes.

In the case that the senior needs assistance to understand the ins and outs of the Making Home Affordable programs, he or she can search for HUD counseling agencies in the area and obtain free counseling services. The counselor will help residents determine if they are eligible for this program and then help the senior complete an intake package for the program. Learn about the eligibility requirements for these programs by downloading our free guide.

Information About Housing Counseling Availability

Housing counseling agencies have specific operating hours when they are available to help seniors with any of the counseling services that they offer. For specific hours of operation of counseling agencies, seniors should search for a local agency and then look up the details of that agency. These times differ from state to state and agency to agency. If the senior needs help outside of those hours, then they can call HUD’s Office of Housing Counseling hotline. Someone will be available to speak with them 24 hours of the day.