What you can expect when calling a housing counselor

The housing crisis continues to affect many homeowners who are struggling to make their mortgage payments. And as a result, more and more Americans are forced to consider reaching out for help.

recent housing study conducted by Money Management International (MMI) found that respondents would first seek help from family or friends (50 percent), followed by their lender (26 percent), then from a credit counseling service (13 percent) if they were struggling with mortgage payments.

For those facing foreclosure — or who fear they may face it in the future — a call to a HUD-certified housing counselor at MMI can help. In fact, a recent study by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) highlights the effectiveness of housing counseling in helping homeowners remain in their homes. 

But we realize it’s a big step to take, and uncertainty can make the process seem daunting. So in order to help you better understand the housing counseling process, the following is a rundown of what you can expect from a session with one of MMI’s HUD-certified housing counselors:

  • Prior to calling, make sure you know and/or have access to the following information, as the counselor will ask for these things in order to better assess your situation:
    • Your monthly income;
    • monthly expenses;
    • debts and assests; and
    • mortgage information – including servicer, payment amount, interest rate, amount of loan, date loan was acquired and your last contact with servicer.
  • A typical phone call lasts about an hour and begins with the privacy disclosure. Your counselor will then take time to answer any questions you may have. You will then be asked to discuss your specific hardship (the reason you're having difficulty making payments), which will give your counselor an accurate understanding of your situation in order to make the best possible recommendation.
  • Your counselor will explain your options based on your specific situation. Upon gathering the necessary information (listed above) and reviewing your specific hardship, your counselor will recommend the nonprofit resources and services that will be of most benefit to you. You will be offered information on all of the options available to you, as well as the foreclosure information specific to your state.
  • You will then review an action plan, which your counselor will create based on the information covered in the session. You will receive a written copy of the action plan, which will be used to prepare a recommendation to your lender based on the option you choose (if you choose an option).
  • At the conclusion of the counseling session, you will be offered the opportunity to participate in a conference call with your lender to go over the recommendation and see if your lender will be able to assist you. You should note that, while telephone contact is not required and is completely optional, it is an important part of the process in order for your lender to help you avoid foreclosure.
  • In the event you are not able to work with the lender to keep your home, you will be told what to expect and you may be offered a post-foreclosure counseling session. In this session you will learn more about what to expect after you transition out of the home.

If you are already in foreclosure, the most important thing you can do is stay in contact with your lender and seek help as soon as possible. While the foreclosure process varies by state, there a number of options that may allow you to slow or suspend the foreclosure activity — all of which your counselor can explain to you in detail.  

But it all begins by taking the first step and reaching out for help. So don’t wait any longer. Call a HUD-certified housing counselor today, or fill out this easy online form, and begin the path to your best financial future.

Jessica Horton is a former copywriter and community manager at MMI.