GA HOME SAFE – New Program

Important HomeSafe Georgia News

On September 28th the Georgia Department of Community Affairs announced the launch of Underwater Georgia, a new HomeSafe initiative specifically targeted to the approximately 150,000 Georgians who owe more than their homes are worth. Homeowners approved through Underwater Georgia can receive a one-time payment of up to $50,000 to reduce the principal balance on their home. In addition to providing information about Underwater Georgia – without doubt the most significant and potentially impactful HomeSafe program modification to date – this document also chronicles other important activity associated with HomeSafe that has occurred since the January 2016 publication of HomeSafe Georgia – Making the Most of a Valuable Resource, which documented and analyzed HomeSafe’s application intake, approval and disbursement history and made recommendations for program modification and expansion.

[1] Information in this section from DCA Memo: New Mortgage Assistance program to Launch September 28th, and Underwater Georgia Mortgage Principal Reduction Aid Communications Toolkit, September 22, 2106.
[2] See Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program,, September 12, 2016.
[3] See Atlanta Journal Constitution,, by Tamar Hallerman, September 13, 2016.
[4] See (HousingWire, Treasury Boosting Hardest Hit Funds by $2 billion, Ben Lane, February 19, 2016) and See (US Treasury, Treasury Announces Allocation of Final $1 Billion Among Hardest Hit Fund States, April 20, 2016).

William H. McFarland
Relationship Manager, Georgia ACT
Project Director, Housing Georgia
404 – 586 -0740 (office)
404-790-6607 (cell)

Freddie Mac Encourages Homebuyers to Utilize Housing Counselors

For first-time homebuyers looking for information or a guide through the complicated buying process, the best option is a conversation with a housing counselor, according to a blog post from Freddie Mac on Monday.
For those buyers who have no idea how to begin the process, might have less-than-perfect credit, might have questions about whether or not they can even afford a home, or concerns about how to avoid being cheated by those deals that seem “to good to be true,” Freddie Mac recommends the best course of action is visiting with a housing counselor.
“Counselors are trained to help in a variety of situations – from giving advice to someone who’s exploring homeownership for the first time, to helping a future homeowner overcome past credit problems (or lack of any credit history at all),” Freddie Mac wrote on its blog. “The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) maintains a list of approved housing counselors across the country, and these services are offered free of charge.”
Counseling may reduce the risk of a first-time homebuyer becoming seriously delinquent by an average of 29 percent on affordable mortgages that required pre-purchase housing counseling, according to research from Freddie Mac. The study also found that one-on-one counseling, classroom counseling, and home study via the Internet, which are the three most common types of housing counseling, are equally effective.
In order to help buyers achieve successful and sustainable homeownership, Freddie Mac is offering pre-purchase counseling and financial literacy education on its expanded Borrower Help Centers and Network. There are also resources available on housing counseling on Freddie Mac’s new My Home website, just launched last month.

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BestBank Helps Consumers Build Credit While Saving Money…

BestBank offers a unique program to help consumers build credit while saving money. See details from BestBank on their Credit Builder Loan program.

See details below on the Credit Builder Loan program.  Great opportunity for your clients!

What is it?

Credit Builder is a personal loan secured by a certificate of deposit (CD). This positions you to help your credit history by proving that you can reliably pay back a loan on time. Plus, all principal paid, you get to keep as savings.

No money down and no fees.

The best part of Credit Builder is how easy it is to get started. There’s no down payment or fees. You simply make your monthly loan payments on time, and we take care of the rest.

How to get started.

Visit your local branch and talk to a banker!


Resources for Counselors from the NeighborWorks Store…

The New NeighborWorks Store: NeighborWorks Center for Homeownership Education and Counseling (NCHEC) is a leading resource on pre-purchase and post-purchase homeowner education. Prospective homeowners learn the entire home-buying process, from managing money and understanding credit to securing a mortgage loan and shopping for a home in Realizing the American Dream. The manual’s teaching companion, realizing the American Dream Trainer’s Manual, provides instructors with teaching tools, activities, worksheets and visual aids. Are you counseling homeowners? Keeping the American Dream will give them the skills they need to remain secure in their new home purchase. To learn more about these publications or make a purchase, visit

Standards and goals that are focused!


The study below shows the direct benefit of pre-purchase counseling for home buyers. How group education (two hour course), one on one counseling, and financial literacy, can and will lead to successful buyers and home owners. This study also shows both the short term and long term benefit to meeting the specific need(s) of the participant, while establishing standards and goals (counseling) for the outcomes (coaching).

I recommend reading the full report. Anthony Mitchell

The Effectiveness of Pre-Purchase Homeownership Counseling and Financial Management Skills.  Homeownership remains a cherished goal for many people. However, developments in mortgage products and drastic changes in the housing market have made the realization of becoming a homeowner more challenging. Fortunately, homeownership counseling is available to help navigate prospective homebuyers in their quest. But the effectiveness of such counseling over time continues to be contemplated. Previous studies have made important strides in our understanding of the value of homeownership counseling, but more work is needed. More specifically, homeownership education and counseling have never been rigorously evaluated through a randomized field experiment.

This study is based on a long-term (five-year) effort undertaken by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia on the effectiveness of pre-purchase homeownership and financial management skills counseling. The study improves upon previous efforts by employing a different methodology that relies on an experimental design and tracks study participants’ creditworthiness over time. Download the full report. (49 pages, 829 KB


The analysis here shows that a two-hour pre-purchase homeownership workshop and one-on-one pre-purchase counseling improved the study participants’ financial creditworthiness as they prepared to qualify for a home mortgage. However, the benefits from pre-purchase homeowner counseling and money management assistance for the treatment participants who received one-on-one counseling were generally greater in terms of credit scores, total debt, and various delinquency days on payments relative to control participants. Both treatment participants with one on-one counseling and control participants who became homeowners tended to pay their mortgages in a timely manner overall.

HUD Training and Information Updates

New Presentation Added to the HUD Office of Housing Counseling (OHC) Webinar Archives: Visit the OHC Webinar Archive to view all the past training presentations.

  • Original air date: November 18, 2014 – HECM Counseling Protocol “We can make it better”. The purpose of this stakeholder meeting was to seek Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), counseling agency stakeholder ideas and feedback on how to make the current HECM protocol more efficient and effective. Replay number: (800) 475-6701, Access Code: 337608. View the presentation.

New Training Updates for Housing Counselors: 

  1. HUD Training for Housing Counselors: Visit the HUD Office of Housing Counseling (OHC) Training Calendar on-line. Visit the OHC Webinar Archive to view archival copies of past training events. Visit FHA’s Webinar Archive to view training on insured mortgage programs like HECM, 203K, non-profit programs, disaster recovery and much more. 
  • HUD Exchange: HUD has launched an online curriculum, including video, dynamic presentations and self-paced training modules, designed to help HUD partners understand Federal financial requirements. The HUD Exchange Training and Events website also has many other courses and training opportunities of interest to non-profit and local government agencies. Visit HUD Exchange to learn more and register for training opportunities.
  •  December 02, 2014 – HECM Protocol Stakeholder Meetings: Sponsored by HUD’s Office of Housing Counseling. The purpose of this stakeholder meeting is to seek HECM counseling agency stakeholder ideas and feedback on how to make the current HECM protocol more efficient and effective.  Attendance is very limited for both of this meeting, Register today. This session is for local agencies. Register on-line.
  1. IRS Educational Training for Exempt Organizations: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers training for non-profit organizations. Visit their website to view the IRS training calendar.  The IRS provides training for tax-exempt organizations and charitable organizations seeking tax-exempt status at: The site includes information for new applicants; information to help existing exempt organizations maintain their exemption; and more in-depth topics. Also View the IRS webinar course catalog for workshops you can take on-line. Training dates include:
  • December 09, 2014 – Austin, TX
  • January 9, 2014 – Salt Lake City, UT
  • May 12, 2015 – St. Louis, MO
  • May 14, 2015 – Springfield, MO

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HECM Loans; Provide Feedback to HUD

HUD’s Office of Housing Counseling will be holding two stakeholder meetings on the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) protocol. The purpose of these stakeholder meetings is to seek HECM counseling agency stakeholder ideas and feedback on how to make the current HECM protocol more efficient and effective.


  • November 18, 2014 – 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM Eastern time. This session is for Intermediaries and State Housing Finance Agencies. Register on-line.
  • December 02, 2014 – 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM Eastern time. This session is for local agencies. Register on-line.

Attendance is very limited for both of these meetings, Register today.



HUD-OHC Listserv Bulk subscriptions:


Some housing counselors have asked, “How do I sign up my entire agency staff for HUD Office of Housing Counseling (HUD-OHC) listserv updates?” It is easy… Just list your staff email addresses like this:


You can send in one email address or your entire agency. Then Email your list to HUD-OHC. If you have a housing counseling industry friend who you want to subscribe to this listserv, there are 2 other ways to sign up: Send them this link or forward them this email.