What is a housing counselor?
A housing counselor is a trained professional that helps you understand what it takes to buy a house, helps you get out of trouble when you miss mortgage payments and face foreclosure and can help you stay in your rented home if you’ve missed some rent payments. They help people who are stressed about their housing understand their situation so they understand what is happening and can relax.
Southwest CDC has had housing counselors on staff since 1996, after receiving a grant for certification training to help educate first time home buyers. It was in 2005 when more neighborhood families were getting behind in their mortgage payments and started needing help. By the time the Great Recession started in 2007, Southwest CDC counselors were seeing more people who were behind in their payments than people who wanted to buy a house. In the fall of 2021, Philadelphia created a Eviction Diversion program to help landlords and tenants come together with a mediator to discuss a tenant’s missed rent payments.
Counselors can also help people who are behind in their property taxes get on a payment plan.
Buying a House:
Buying a house is usually the biggest purchase of someone’s life and the process can be very scary and daunting. Housing counselors provide workshops where you learn about:
1. Credit scores and how they impact getting a mortgage.
2. How to apply for a mortgage.
3. Realtors and what they do.
Housing Counselors also provide one on one counseling where they go through your personal situation to see how ready you are and help guide you through the process.
After you buy a house, you may wind up missing a couple payments due to gaps in employment, medical conditions, or emergency repairs in the house or with your car. People are overwhelmed at the thought of losing their home, to the point they stop opening mail from their lender. Housing counselors will help you understand the foreclosure process and how to work with your mortgage holder and set the goal of lowering your payment amount (loan modification) or postponing missed payments (deferments).
The Eviction Diversion program enables landlords and tenants to arrive at an agreement that works for both parties, without having to go to court. This program is required as of January 1, 2022. A housing counselor works on behalf of the tenant during the mediation process. Benefits of diversion and mediation include helping tenants avoid an eviction, while also helping landlords avoid vacancies and unit turnover costs.
- Are highly trained and must pass a national certification test before they can counsel.
- Know local and state housing regulations and laws.
- Offer free help and see new clients every day.
- Help calm your fears and anxiety, whether you are buying a home or already own one.
If you would like to buy a home or discuss missed mortgage or property tax payments with a housing counselor, please call Southwest CDC at 215-729-0800.