Housing Counseling in California

There are numerous housing counseling agencies throughout the state that offer knowledgeable advice about homes in California. You can talk to a housing counselor for guidance before you make a decision about buying or renting property. Home buying counseling is especially prudent for first-time buyers who are new to the process. As well as working with you to assess your eligibility for an FHA loan, a counselor can also help you if you are having difficulties making your mortgage payments. Housing counseling services offer free or low cost advice to help you on your way to buying or renting your first home. Find out more about housing counseling in California within the content below.

California Home Buying Counseling

This type of housing counseling in California is intended for people who are buying a home for the first time. Talking to a housing counselor can take reduce the stress of buying a home and help you gain insight on to how to maintain your home and finances after the purchase. A HUD agency can assist with counseling services for housing credit issues, reverse mortgages and foreclosure avoidance.

If you are preparing to buy a new home and are unsure of how much you can afford, you can speak to a housing counselor about your income, credit score, current expenses and details of down payments and interest rates. This will help you put your situation in perspective from the outset and prevent you getting into financial difficulties and losing your home in the future.

It makes sense to talk to a housing counselor because buying a house can be complicated. Home buying counseling agencies can give you sound advice on fair housing and equal opportunities, so that you can make sure you are not experiencing housing discrimination. They can also inform you of your rights as a borrower and explain how to avoid predatory lenders, so that you do not end up in debt over your head.

To learn more about filing a discrimination complaint, download our comprehensive guide.

Credit Issues

Meeting with a housing counselor to discuss your credit issues is a good thing to do before you commit yourself to buying a house. Credit issues are an important factor of home buying counseling and talking about your personal credit situation will help you understand how your credit rating affects your ability to borrow money. You should learn how the Federal Housing Administration provides low-interest mortgages as well as how you can qualify. You can also learn tips on how to shop, compare and negotiate for the best mortgage.

Reverse Mortgages

Housing counseling services offer all kinds of information about mortgages. Talking to a housing counselor can help clarify what a reverse mortgage is and if it is the right type of loan for you. As a housing counseling service will explain, a reverse mortgage allows you to borrow money against the value of your home and receive these funds in the form of a monthly payment or credit line. The mortgage payments (either principal or interest) do not become due until the borrower sells the home or dies.

Foreclosure Avoidance

You should talk to a housing counselor as soon as possible if you are having difficulties making your mortgage payments. Advisors at housing counseling agencies have special training in all legal and financial aspects of avoiding foreclosure. Speaking with a housing counselor can help you understand your options and you may be offered a number of helpful programs including:

  • Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP): How to lower your monthly payment to make your home more affordable.
  • Principal Reduction Alternative (PRA): What you can do if your home is worth less than the amount you have borrowed.
  • Second Lien Modification Program (2MP): What your options are if your first mortgage was modified under HAMP and you already have a second mortgage on the same property.
  • Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP): How to refinance your home for a more affordable mortgage.
  • FHA Special Forbearance: What assistance you may be eligible for if you are having difficulty paying your mortgage due to unemployment.

California Rental Housing Counseling Services

Housing counseling services can also help you if you wish to rent a home. Many housing counseling agencies throughout the state offer advice on how to search for privately owned subsidized housing. Talking to a housing counselor can help you search for a HUD home that offers reduced rental fees for qualifying households. Housing counseling in California can also give you advice on applying for public housing, which are affordable apartments and houses for low-income families, the elderly and persons with disabilities. You may also want to inquire about your eligibility for the Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8). Section 8 allows you to find your accommodations and use a voucher to pay for a portion or all of your rent. The housing counseling agency can also give you advice about tenant’s rights, laws and protections in California.

To learn more about Section 8 housing, download our comprehensive guide.

What Housing Help Can I Get Through HUD?

California residents can receive various types of housing assistance, from federal housing aid to home loans and more. Additionally, the Department of Housing and Urban Development offers CA residents counseling services, which cover how to avoid foreclosure, how to buy a home and how to rent a living space, to name only a few topics. Find out everything you need to know about housing assistance programs in California by downloading our comprehensive HUD guide.

Who Is Eligible to Receive Housing Help in California?

In order to receive housing help from the state of California, you typically need to meet the income requirements of the specific assistance program you are applying for. These necessary qualifications often refer to the income of the household, based on the number of members. Find out if you and your household are eligible for housing assistance here.