Certification Success Stories and Best Practices

Agencies are well on their way to complying with HUD's Housing Counseling Certification Requirements final rule. As agencies work to get their counselors certified, they have developed best practices, compiled lessons learned, and shared their stories. The Office of Housing Counseling will continue adding success stories to this page as agencies go through the certification process.

Group of people working together

Value of Certification

While the housing counselor certification is a statutory requirement, it will also improve the quality and increase the visibility of housing counseling so that it is no longer a “best kept secret.” HUD expects that more knowledgeable housing counselors will lead to better identification of housing issues, more knowledgeable referrals and resolution of barriers, and a greater ability to recognize and avoid scams and discrimination. HUD’s housing counseling standards should reduce the fraud often seen in foreclosure prevention and real estate programs, such as scams and predatory lending.

Sample Timeline: Become a HUD Certified Counselor in Less than 5 Months!

This sample timeline shows the process for a counselor to become HUD certified and the expected timeframe for each step. The timeline includes post-exam steps in the FHA Connection, including applying for an FHAC User ID and having your employment verified.

Please note that this timeline is just a sample, and the timeframe for certification will vary based on several factors including the desired amount of study time for the counselor, how many times the counselor will take the exam to pass, and how long the organization takes to verify employment.

Certified Counselor Timeline

DHIC Homeownership Center

Jeffrey Belzer

Since 1974, DHIC has demonstrated the importance of connecting people with safe, affordable, and desirable homes in the Triangle region of North Carolina. DHIC’s Homeownership Center (HOC) is an important part of DHIC’s portfolio of services. As a HUD-approved counseling agency, HOC provides group homebuyer education classes, financial capability, one-on-one pre-purchase counseling, postpurchase counseling, and access to down payment assistance programs. HOC is proud that all three of their housing counselors have passed the HUD Housing Counseling Certification Exam. To help you prepare, DHIC recommends you PREP: Prepare, Review, Educate, Positive.

Read DHIC’s Full Success Story on How to PREP.

HomeSource NeighborImpact: A Rural Agency’s Approach to Certification

Jeffrey Belzer

Over the last year, HomeSource of NeighborImpact, which represents and serves economically disadvantaged residents in Oregon, has been working to prepare its housing counselors for HUD’s Housing Counseling Certification Exam. So far, two have passed! To encourage studying and preparation, HomeSource incorporated certification into counselors’ professional development plans and identified the end of FY 2019 as an agency deadline. With that end date in mind, each person developed their own timeline for passing the exam.

Read NeighborImpact's full success story.

Harford County Housing Agency: HUD-Certified Housing Counselors Share Keys to Success

woman holding keys

The Harford County Housing Agency staff agree: HUD’s videos, study materials, and practice tests, coupled with a commitment to study, make passing the exam possible for everyone. With a fully certified staff, their housing agency is well prepared and confident of their ability to provide excellent counseling to local citizens, resulting in better credit, more savings, and fewer foreclosures.

Read Harford County Housing Agency's full success story.

Catholic Charities of Chemung/Schuyler: Tips for Passing the Certification Exam on the First Try

HUD-certified Housing Counselors Amy Bell and Jane Solokowski of Catholic Charities of Chemung/Schuyler

Since 1994, Catholic Charities of Chemung/Schuyler, based in Elmira, New York, has provided quality housing counseling services in the rural Southern Tier Region of New York State. Two of this agency’s housing counselors, Jane Sokolowski and Amy Bell, passed the HUD Housing Counselor Certification exam on November 1, 2018 and have tips to share! In complying with the HUD Final Rule to certify housing counselors, this agency and its staff are raising the bar on professional competency and agency credibility and inspiring confidence in local consumers.

Read Catholic Charities of Chemung/Schuyler's full success story.

HomesFund of Durango, Colorado: Successful Exam Preparation

laptop on table

Pam Moore, Deputy Director at HomesFund in Durango, Colorado, passed the HUD certified housing counselor examination in one attempt after successful preparation efforts. Pam encourages housing counselors to prepare and get the test finished. She believes it was not overwhelming and that with some simple preparation and planning, it should be easy.

Read HomesFund's full success story.

Virginia Housing Development Authority’s Certification Challenge

VHDA Housing Counselor Ribbon

VHDA has challenged their HUD Housing Counseling network to get certified by July 15, 2019. As part of this effort, they are offering a virtual study group for support and an incentive to counselors who get certified by February 15, 2019 or by July 15, 2019. Individuals who provide counseling services at an agency that receives an FY 2018 HUD grant from VHDA are eligible to participate in the challenge. Participants of the challenge receive a gift card with varied amounts depending on the date they become certified.

Read VHDA's full success story.

HomeSource East Tennessee: Tips for Preparing for the Housing Counseling Certification Exam

HomeSource East Tennessee

HomeSource East Tennessee has been preparing its staff to take the HUD Housing Counseling Certification Exam ever since it was announced a few years ago. Early preparation included two of their counselors attending a training class offered by NeighborWorks called “HO200: Ready, Set, Prep: Tackling the HUD Counselor Exam” in 2016. This gave their housing counselors an overview of what might be included in the future exam. When the Final Rule was published at the end of 2016, the preparation continued.

Read HomeSource East Tennessee's full success story.

BALANCE: Five Tips to Prepare for the HUD Housing Counselor Certification Exam

Online Test

Almost 90% of BALANCE’s housing counselors have passed the exam. To help you prepare, they summarized some lessons and learned and helpful tips about the process. They made the test a top priority but were nevertheless surprised by a few curveballs along the way.

Read BALANCE's full success story.

Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA): Encouraging HUD Certification through Reimbursements

PHFA

The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) has developed a unique program to support its 73 housing counseling agencies through the HUD Certified Housing Counselor examination process. PHFA recognizes there are two distinct costs associated with obtaining the certification: 1) The cost of the exam itself ($60 or $100, depending on where the exam is taken); and, 2) The cost associated with counselors’ study time, when they are not available to counsel clients. To ensure that counselors pursue certification, PHFA reimburses these costs up to a maximum of $500 per counselor.

Read PHFA's full success story.

Tips and Best Practices from The Bridge

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The following articles featured in The Bridge cover tips and best practices for certification: