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The Association of Housing Counselor’s Certification program ensures basic proficiency in housing counseling concepts and techniques. Certification requirements include participation in the Basic (Track A) and Advanced (Track B) Housing Counseling workshops and successful completion of written certification exams for both tracks. Certification trainings are offered three times a year. For more information on certification and upcoming training schedules please contact us.

Curriculum Summary

TRACK A – BASIC HOUSING COUNSELING TRAINING

The housing counseling curriculum is designed to provide training on several specific skills that are central to successful homeownership counseling – basic counseling and communication skills, pre-qualifying buyers, and solving credit problems. The curriculum also provides participants with a working knowledge of the mortgage lending and consumer credit industries. Information on a variety of mortgage products, homebuyer education models, and program administration is also presented.

Chapter One — Overview of Housing Counseling:
Chapter one presents an overview of housing counseling by providing basic definitions of counseling, housing counseling, pre-homeownership counseling and homebuyer education. The differences between pre-homeownership counseling and homebuyer education are emphasized. This Chapter also introduces the components of counseling as a problem-solving process and discusses specific activities of housing counseling and its benefits to clients.

Chapter Two — Counseling Skills:
This chapter focuses on counseling skills that are essential to successful counseling. Section One begins with a discussion of the basics of communication, including verbal and nonverbal modes of communicating. We’ll also talk about specific communication skills relevant to building rapport, developing trust, and facilitating change. In Section Two, we’ll introduce the concept of a case management approach to counseling. Case Management refers to the planning process in which counselors develop concrete action steps to meeting the client’s needs. Section Three includes some administrative tools and sample forms that will sharpen your record-keeping skills so that you can document your work.

Chapter Three — The Mortgage Lending Industry:
Chapter three provides insight into the mortgage lending industry – how mortgages work and how they are financed. Basic underwriting guidelines and the loan application process are also discussed. Other topics include the role of the federal government and the secondary markets in shaping the mortgage industry. A good understanding of this background information is a prerequisite to pre-qualifying clients for homeownership. It is essential that housing counselors familiarize themselves with how lenders operate and what they look for in loan applications so that they can provide informed, knowledgeable, and professional assistance to clients.

Chapter Four — Client In-Take and Pre-Qualification:
Chapter four continues the discussion of the mortgage lending industry by presenting information on how to pre-qualify families for homeownership. Section One focuses on client intake and application interview procedures that facilitate gathering and verifying information regarding clients’ financial situation. Section Two includes case studies, exercises, and practical worksheets that illustrate how to accurately calculate income, qualifying ratios, and how to assess clients’ overall eligibility for homeownership. This pre-qualification analysis then reveals any problem areas, such as derogatory credit, that need to be resolved.

Chapter Five — The Consumer Credit Industry:
The purpose of this chapter is to present an overview of the consumer credit industry. Topics include the historical developments in the use of credit, the basic types of credit, the role of credit in the economy, and credit legislation. Chapter Five also discusses the advantages and disadvantages of using credit. Instruction on how to analyze credit reports and how to interpret credit scores is also included. In addition, tips for solving credit problems are included.

Chapter Six — Budgeting for Homeownership:
Housing counselors play an important role in helping clients plan for the up-front and on-going monthly costs of homeownership. This chapter includes instructional materials on implementing a household budget that focuses on reducing debts and developing a savings plan. Budget analysis will be incorporated into qualifying ratio estimates to ensure affordability.

Chapter Seven — Homebuyer Education Models:
This chapter discusses educational goals and various options for training curricula. Tips for managing training logistics such as class schedules and locations, as well as recruitment of local housing professionals to present some of the workshop segments will be discussed. In addition, presentation skills conducive to adult learning are also included.

TRACK B – ADVANCED HOUSING COUNSELING TRAINING

The Advanced Training for Housing Counseling Professionals provides more in-depth coverage of topics in counseling skills, financial management and affordable mortgage sources. The curriculum also discusses the importance of post-purchase counseling, provides information on predatory lending and payday lending, and loss mitigation options for homeowners facing financial difficulties. The information presented in this curriculum helps homeowners successfully maintain their homes.

Chapter One — Advanced Housing Counseling Skills:
Chapter One discusses a variety of legal and ethical issues that are of concern to housing counseling practitioners. Accountability, confidentiality, and conflict of interest are of particular importance to any type of counseling that is linked to the financial matters of clients. This Chapter also provides guidance on dealing with difficult/emotional clients and a diverse client base. In addition, information on fair housing legislation is presented.

Chapter Two — Financial Management:
Chapter Two is designed to give housing practitioners the tools they need to provide financial counseling to potential homebuyers and homeowners. Good financial management skills are critical to planning for homeownership and sustaining the mortgage payments in the future. Chapter Two presents information on financial management issues such as budgeting, setting financial goals, the use of credit, insurance, investments, taxes, and retirement planning.

Chapter Three — Mortgage Industry Update:
The purpose of Chapter Three is to provide current information on various mortgage products that are available for first-time and/or low-to-moderate income families. Descriptions are given for programs offered by the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency, FHA, USDA, and other programs offered through financial institutions.

Chapter Four — Special Topics in Lending:
Chapter Four introduces several issues that are important for a greater understanding of the mortgage lending industry. Non-conforming mortgage products and/or mortgage refinancing can be helpful tools for maximizing our investment. However, predatory lending and payday lending practices represent serious threats to the homeowner or potential homeowner. Housing counselors who are familiar with these issues can help their clients avoid situations that threaten their ability to obtain or sustain homeownership.

Chapter Five — Post-Homeownership Counseling:
Chapter Five provides information on providing on-going support for borrowers after they have purchased a home, helping to ensure that the client’s homeownership experience is a successful one. This chapter outlines issues that are specific to post-purchase counseling, presents post-purchase counseling strategies, includes information on post-homeownership case management and early intervention techniques, and introduces the topic of default counseling and foreclosure proceedings.

Chapter Six — Loss Mitigation:
The housing counselor plays a valuable role in helping the client avoid default and foreclosure through mediation and negotiation techniques. This chapter discusses delinquency, default, and foreclosure concepts and introduces various alternatives to foreclosure for FHA-insured loans. Curriculum materials are based on HUD guidelines.

Chapter Seven — Housing Counseling Program Design and Management:
Housing Counseling program design refers to the management level structure of a counseling program. Although there are many variations in the types of organizations engaged in counseling, there are numerous administrative and structural issues that are common to all. This chapter discusses planning, community outreach, case management, record keeping, and fundraising. Each of these issues is important for the efficient and effective provision of counseling services.

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