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Housing Counseling Moves Toward ‘Modernization’

Hand Grabbing House BHIn the aftermath of the housing crisis and the onslaught of foreclosures, HUD-approved housing counseling has played a critical role in helping delinquent and at-risk borrowers avoid foreclosure. It has also assisted many families who were buying their first home or attempting to locate affordable rental housing.

Government agencies have invested significantly in housing counseling since the crisis. In February, HUD announced it would be making $40 million in grants available to hundreds of housing counseling organizations nationwide.

The GSEs have also devoted substantial resources toward furthering more effective housing counseling since the crisis. On Wednesday, Freddie Mac announced that housing counseling has now taken a step toward “modernization” with a collaboration between Freddie Mac and Hope LoanPort (HLP) on a platform that will allow housing counselors to focus more on assisting borrowers and focus less on administrative tasks.

Freddie Mac currently has 13 Borrower Help Centers, which are HUD-approved non-profit counseling agencies located in Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New York, and the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The new technology is a step toward connecting Freddie Mac’s Borrower Help Centers and Borrower Help Network to a secure platform that non-profit counseling agencies can use to share information and interact with lenders. The collaboration between Freddie Mac and HLP will help non-profits reduce costs, assist more clients, and affirm the housing counselor’s role as a critical bridge between the borrower and the lender, or in the case of loss mitigation, the borrower and the servicer.

“This strategic investment underscores our commitment to help housing counselors prepare more borrowers for sustainable homeownership.”

Danny Gardner, Freddie Mac

While counseling in the post-crisis housing world has primarily focused on loss mitigation and preventing foreclosure, the new platform marks a shift toward educating prospective borrowers on sustaining homeownership.

“Our Borrower Help Centers and Network are on the housing industry’s front lines, working with families in local communities,” said Danny Gardner, VP of Affordable Lending and Access to Credit, Freddie Mac. “This strategic investment underscores our commitment to help housing counselors prepare more borrowers for sustainable homeownership. It also further demonstrates our conviction that HUD-approved counseling agencies are a very important gateway to homeownership for America’s families today.”

According to said Camillo Melchiorre, president & CEO of HLP. “What that does for the counseling industry is it makes everything they do more efficient and more standardized so they don't have to worry about reporting and data collection from all over the place. Now data collection is going to be extremely efficient, which will obviously benefit consumers at the end of the day. It'll benefit the counseling industry. They'll have better metrics, standardization, centralized information, and all those attributes of having one unified platform among all these different parties. That's really what it is at the end of the day. The loss mitigation work that the counselors do, the same counselors can do origination work and the loss mitigation on one platform.”

About Author: Brian Honea

Brian Honea's writing and editing career spans nearly two decades across many forms of media. He served as sports editor for two suburban newspaper chains in the DFW area and has freelanced for such publications as the Yahoo! Contributor Network, Dallas Home Improvement magazine, and the Dallas Morning News. He has written four non-fiction sports books, the latest of which, The Life of Coach Chuck Curtis, was published by the TCU Press in December 2014. A lifelong Texan, Brian received his master's degree from Amberton University in Garland.

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