A Call to Action by Georgia ACT

Last month Fannie Mae announced its new affordable mortgage product, HomeReadyTM, which replaces MyCommunityMortgage. Targeted to low- and moderate-income borrowers, it requires an online homebuyer education course. Called Framework, the course will be provided by Housing Partnership Network and the Minnesota Homeownership Center.  Although this is a notable step forward in making housing counseling more accessible to potential buyers, what impact will this have on local housing counseling agencies?

Does this move by Fannie Mae and a similar move by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta portend a change in the landscape?  Is housing counseling undergoing a transformation as counseling moves to online sources?  National online alternative options such as ClearPoint and Framework appear to offer 24/7 access, standardization, quality assurance, and low cost. Technology and online platforms are changing housing counseling processes from intake to service delivery, so what is the role of local nonprofit agencies? How can such agencies remain viable?

The Georgia ACT conference on October 28th offers housing counselors the opportunity to convene and discuss how best to adapt to this changing environment.  Registration is now open. Go to http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=64yzoxjab&oeidk=a07ebgxzs3ed7e957ad

GA ACT Survey – Please Complete by 9/15/15

Good Afternoon, Georgia Advancing Communities Together, Inc. is a statewide membership organization dedicated to building a strong network of housing and community development organizations to benefit lower-income Georgians and underserved communities. We act as a clearinghouse for information and action to advance the field of housing and community economic development through our annual conference, training, peer mentoring, and advocacy on public policy. Your participation in this survey is critical to supporting the future growth and stability of the nonprofit housing and community development sector and the ability to compete in the face of diminished resources. This survey will give us a snapshot of your organization’s current position and abilities. We will use this information to create support for increased capital resources and for industry policies that enable greater community impact. You should be able to complete this survey in 20 minutes. If you get interrupted, you can save your completed responses and come back to finish the survey. Having the following information available may help you complete the survey quickly: · Housing development portfolio · Most recent 990 · Housing counseling/financial literacy data We need your completed survey by Friday, August 14, 2015. Follow the link below to take the survey today and help us show collective impact! Start Survey Thank You Kate Little Georgia Advancing Communities Together, Inc. 250 Georgia Avenue, SE, Suite 350 Atlanta, GA 30312 404/586-0740 klittle@georgiaact.org We have moved. Please note new address and email.

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.

Continue reading

HUD Housing Counseling Website for Training

HUD Office of Housing Counseling Deputy Assistant Secretary Sarah Gerecke announced the launch of HUD‘s Housing Counselor Certification website. This website is an important step to help counselors get ready for the upcoming housing counselor certification examination. The website offers free on-line training and a downloadable study guide covering a broad range of statute topics. There is no PowerPoint presentation. View the Housing Counselor Certification website at: hudhousingcounselors.com. On June 16, 2015 there will also be a live demonstration of the website. 

All the best!

Anthony Mitchell

Underwater Atlanta March 17 at the Carter Center

In the aftermath of the foreclosure crisis, metro Atlanta leads the country with 35% of homeowners underwater on their mortgage loans (Haas Institute, 2014).  Housing recovery in the region has been wildly uneven.  The slow rising tide of home prices in affluent neighborhoods has bypassed large portions of metro Atlanta, particularly communities south of I-20 and along portions of the I-85 corridor.

Of the top 10 hardest-hit zip codes in the country for negative equity, nine are located in metro Atlanta. The hardest hit zip code in the country is in Clayton County where  a staggering 76% of homeowners are underwater.  In this Clayton community, 89% of homeowners are African American. The impact of negative equity is even more significant given the fact that home equity accounts for 92% of personal net worth for the typical African-American household.

SAVE THE DATE: On March 17, Piece by Piece will convene its 150+ partner organizations and more to discuss strategies for addressing the negative equity issue. Make plans to join us for a half-day discussion at The Carter Center. MORE | REGISTER

RECOMMENDED READING:
Haas Institute’s “Underwater America”

Full Report | Atlanta Overview | Georgia Overview

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 NeigbhorWorksStore.org

Housing Counselor Training Opportunities in 2015

Atlanta Legal Aid has announced a series of trainings and roundtable events for housing counselors in 2015.  The first training is scheduled for January 14, 2015.  This first training for housing counselors will be on FHA issues, including an in-depth training on the FHA Loss Mitigation Waterfall Eligibility Calculator, an excel spreadsheet designed by Atlanta Legal Aid staff.  This will be a joint training with HUD and will take place at the HUD Atlanta regional office.   Please save the date!