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5 Questions to Ask Your Housing Counselor

Meeting with a HUD-approved housing counselor is a valuable way to access free, reliable advice. Whether you’re a homeowner or renter, a housing counselor can help you tackle short-term housing challenges and achieve longer-term housing goals.

Talk to a housing counselor at no cost to you

Call 1-855-HERE2HELP (855-437-3243855-437-3243), or schedule an appointment.

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How speaking with a housing counselor could help you

Housing counselors can help you:

icon checklistAssess your individual housing situation.

icon checklistDevelop goals.

icon checklistIdentify your options.

icon checklistCreate an action plan.

The guidance a housing counselor will provide is unique to your situation, so it’s useful to be prepared with all your relevant information.

Some things you can gather before you meet include: 

  • Pay stubs or W2s to assess your income.
  • A list of monthly expenses to assess your spending. 
  • Loan statements, credit card balances, or evidence of any other debt.
  • The terms of your mortgage (if you’re a current homeowner). 
  • Your potential plans to buy a home (if you’re renting and hope to own one day).

You might also want to write down a list of questions and concerns. Here are a few questions that you might want to ask your housing counselor during your first session.

Once you’re connected with a HUD-approved housing counselor, you’ll want to determine how they can help with your situation.

Common situations where a housing counselor can help:

If you’re renting:

  • “I want to find affordable housing.” 
  • “I want to understand my rights and responsibilities.” 
  • “I want to solve an issue I’m having with my landlord.”   

If you’re a homeowner or future homeowner:   

  • “I want to understand the homebuying process.” 
  • “I want to get assistance with home improvements.”  
  • “I want to ask for advice on financial hardship and avoiding foreclosure.”

After you have explained your financial situation, your housing counselor will talk you through a few ideas on how you can achieve your housing goals. For example, if you’re struggling to pay your mortgage because of a financial hardship, they may recommend a mortgage relief option to help ease your situation. They may also help you make a comprehensive budget to help equip you to get back on track in the future.

All this advice will then be put into an action plan for you to review. This action plan outlines your housing difficulty or desire — and what you and your housing counselor can do about it.

It’s always a good idea to know what to expect and what commitment is expected from both sides.

There are usually many activities involved in carrying out an action plan. Just as your counselor will put in many hours to help, you should also be willing to put in time and effort.

Your housing counselor may:

  • Determine need and arrange further meetings with you.
  • Initiate calls with relevant third parties, such as lenders, on your behalf.
  • Ask other housing professionals for additional advice related to your housing problem.

You may be asked to:

  • Read resources and engage in online training, such as Fannie Mae HomeView®.
  • Participate in group classes on topics such as budgeting or the loan process.
  • Attend more sessions with your housing counselor to share your progress.

Before your first meeting, you may want to prepare some basic information to share. This could include recent payslips, your bank balance, and notes on your income and expenses.

After your first meeting, it’s likely your housing counselor will require more detail. This may include:

  • Tax returns from the last few years. 
  • Bank account statements. 
  • Credit card or loan statements. 
  • Rental or mortgage contracts. 
  • Contact details of third parties you’re associated with, such as lenders or attorneys (if you have any).

About your data privacy

It can be scary handing over your personal information to someone you don’t know. Rest assured that HUD-approved housing counselors take client confidentiality very seriously and are required to hold all client information in strict confidence and in a secure location.

There are many ways you can continue to meet with your housing counselor: either in person, by phone, or online.

How often you meet with your housing counselor will depend on your individual circumstances. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), if you’ve not spoken to your housing counselor for 60 days, they will make efforts to reach you. If they still don’t hear from you, your counseling will be considered complete.

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