Guest post by Virginia Leary; she and I were trading emails, and I asked her for a guest post and she quickly obliged. Thank you!
Are you considering buying a home because your rent is higher than your friend’s monthly mortgage payment? Have you ever felt like you aren’t sure where all of your money goes each month? Are you unsure about how to get started with the home buying process? Is your credit score low and you need help rebuilding it? Meeting with a housing counselor might be a good fit for you if you answered yes to any of these questions.
I am a housing counselor at Piedmont Housing Alliance. When I tell folks my job title I think most of them assume I work in a college dorm or a homeless shelter. And while I do serve residents of both, one of the biggest parts of my job is helping individuals and families understand the home buying process. More importantly I review their entire financial picture with them to help them decide if and when home purchase is the right next step. When I meet with clients my sole purpose is to educate them regardless of whether they buy a home or not. As described on Urban Wire – our sessions are about more than just buying a home. Housing counselors help clients see the whole, long term picture.
My job exists because HUD provides funds to agencies that provide this service. My agency happens to be Piedmont Housing Alliance but if you are reading from outside the Thomas Jefferson District there is probably an agency that serves your area – HUD keeps a list of them here. According to this study, housing counseling really does work. It helps homebuyers understand what they are getting into and also helps them avoid costly mistakes along the way. Having this knowledge before sitting down at the closing table decreases the chance of mortgage delinquency and/or foreclosure.
Wondering what to expect when you meet with a housing counselor? My appointments are confidential and generally start with a bit about me and a LOT about you. We’ll go over your financial statements and the intake form you filled out and sent to us. We will go over your budget, line by line (this is always prefaced with the fact that my office is a judgement free zone). If credit is what you are concerned about we’ll discuss your report. Depending on how all of that shakes out we’ll schedule a follow up appointment or get into the details of hiring service providers such as lenders, real estate agents and settlement services. You’ll leave with an action plan and we’ll be back in touch in about 30 days. But the great thing is that each appointment is tailored to your needs. Still have questions? Feel free to give me a call – 434-422-4838.
By the way…If you are a Real Estate Agent or Loan officer reading this you might be glad to know that a housing counselor is someone who has the time to sit down and answer many of the questions that first time (or boomerang) homebuyers have. If you are approached by customers who aren’t quite mortgage ready or need help with down payment or closing costs we are a great resource. We can take the time to educate your customers and coach them in their pursuit of home purchase. Good service providers like yourselves are often very busy – housing counselors can free up some of your time so that you can do more of what you do best.
Accredited Financial Counselor ®, AFCPE®
Certified Housing Counselor, NCHEC
Piedmont Housing Alliance
Direct Phone Line: 434-422-4838