The road to homeownership is a complicated, challenging experience for anyone. Sometimes it makes sense to turn to a professional who can help guide you along the way — a housing counselor.

Housing Counseling for the Entire Homeownership Cycle

Housing, financial, and legal counselors are primarily non-profit professionals who provide a wide range of services to homebuyers, homeowners, renters, and the homeless. Before you buy a home, you should visit a housing counselor for pre-purchase counseling services. Housing counselors provide customized homebuyer support through non-profit organizations that are independent from banks. Pre-purchase housing counseling may include: financial advice on the costs of buying versus renting, budgeting, a credit report review, and guidance on reaching your financial and homeownership goals. Housing counseling may be a requirement to qualify for certain mortgages.

These counselors are different from your real estate attorney or your real estate agent, who draft and review legal documents before the home sale or offer their services as you search for and purchase a home. For instance, counselor services are typically free of charge. They may also be the first housing professionals you contact before buying a home to assess your ability to afford one.

Housing counseling may be a requirement to qualify for certain mortgages.

Housing, financial, and legal counselors also assist homeowners who may be facing foreclosure or other housing finance issues. These counselors have specific training to help homeowners avoid common issues throughout the entire homeownership journey.

Identify A Housing Counselor Through A Nonprofit

If you live in New York State, contact the Center’s Homeowner Hub to be referred to a certified housing counselor. Certified means the counselor has gone through national standardized trainings and assessments to ensure they are familiar with policies and practices that affect homebuyers and homeowners. The Office of the New York State Attorney General also provides a list of free, non-profit counseling agencies listed by county. If you are outside of New York, you can use this easy tool to find an agency near you.