Housing Counseling FAQ

I have an active Real Estate license. Can I also take the Housing Counselor Certification exam, and provide housing counseling?

Date Published: January 2018

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The Housing Counseling Certification Final Rule does not prohibit real estate agents/realtors from taking the HUD Certification examination, working for a participating agency and becoming a certified housing counselor (upon passing the exam) and holding a real estate license. However, to be considered a HUD Certified Housing Counselor, one must pass the HUD certification exam and work for a participating agency (i.e., a housing counseling and intermediary organization approved to participate in HUD's Housing Counseling program).

A participating agency that employs this individual would have to ensure that in the performance of their housing counseling duties, they do not violate the Conflict of Interest provisions located in the Housing Counseling Program Regulations (24 CFR Part 214). Included in those provisions are the following prohibitions:

  • Housing counselors cannot have a direct interest in the client. [See §214.303 (f)(1)] A housing counselor cannot receive a commission for a service (e.g., real estate commission or referral fee at closing).
  • Housing counselors cannot refer clients to mortgage lenders, brokers, builders or real estate agents or brokers in which they have a financial interest. [See §214.303 (f)(2)] This means that they cannot serve as both the client’s housing counselor and real estate agent or refer the client to an agent in their brokerage.
  • Housing counselors must avoid any action “that might result in, or create the appearance of, administering the housing counseling operation for personal or private gain; providing preferential treatment to any organization or person; or undertaking any action that might compromise the agency’s ability to ensure compliance with the requirements of this part and to serve the best interests of its clients.” [See §214.303 (f)(3)]

In addition, the participating agency must adhere to the disclosure requirement which specifically states that “A participating agency must provide to all clients a disclosure statement that explicitly describes the various types of services provided by the agency and any financial relationships between this agency and any other industry partners. The disclosure must clearly state that the client is not obligated to receive any other services offered by the organization or its exclusive partners. Furthermore, the agency must provide information on alternative services, programs, and products.” [See §214.303 (g)]

Tags: Housing Counseling Program Conflict of Interest Housing Counseling Agency Approval

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