Housing Counseling FAQ

To what extent can housing counseling agencies use realtors/lenders to provide homebuyer education? Can these realtors/lenders be paid by the housing counseling agency? 

Date Published: July 2014

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Housing counseling agencies (HCAs) can enlist the help of realtors/lenders or other industry experts to be a part of a counseling activity as long as the housing counseling agency and realtors/lenders or other industry experts have an agreement about ethics and content. Industry experts are not permitted to solicit for clients but can provide their contact information if clients want to contact them outside the classroom. Industry experts cannot steer or provide content that was not approved by the HCA, and the HCA should monitor their content/delivery.

With the exception of reverse mortgage counseling, lenders may pay agencies for counseling services, through a lump sum or on a case-by-case basis, provided the level of payment does not exceed a level that is commensurate with the services provided, is reasonable and customary for the area, and does not violate requirements under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (12 U.S.C. 2601 et seq). These transactions and relationships must be disclosed to the client as required in §214.303 (g) and in Chapter 6, Paragraph 6-1G, of the Housing Counseling handbook. Agencies must also assure that such arrangements do not violate the provisions regarding conflicts of interest described in §214.303(e) and in Chapter 6, Paragraph 6-2.

Tags: Housing Counseling Program Conflict of Interest