3 Trends Housing Counselors are Seeing


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EPISODE #658
Exclusive Interview with Melinda Opperman

What trends are counselors seeing this year? To answer that question we spoke with Credit.org’s Melinda Opperman.

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3 comments

The Skeptic February 22, 2021 at 5:02 pm

The interview with Melinda was outstanding. Your take on things was interesting. Glad to hear about free counseling.

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Jim Warns February 24, 2021 at 7:14 am

Free counseling is ALWAYS welcomed by borrowers, especially those who wish to use it to make their final decision re whether or not to proceed with a loan. I would think, however, that a loan officer who advised a borrower of the availability of free counseling at Credit.org could be accused of “steering”…any comment?

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The Positive Realist February 26, 2021 at 4:49 pm

Jim,

I am not an attorney and am not qualified to provide an official legal opinion. This comment is NOT an attempt to provide such an opinion.

To be clear as to HECM originators, our first duty is to our respective employers, not HUD nor the prospect/applicant (or borrower). We must seek the advice of employers on this subject unless we know what we are doing is wrong. We are not like IRAs and their respective RIAs, i.e., we are NOT fiduciaries by law to prospects, applicants, or borrowers. Our standard is that of a prudent business person whose loyalties must be to our employers. The highest standards we may have in some states is that of suitability. Only in limited situations are we fiduciaries by law; that mainly happens when we accept from form of money from the prospect/applicant/or borrower.

I suggest, however, that advising a consumer about free counseling without providing a compliant list of counselors is a clear violation of the anti-steering rule. If it is a violation of the rule to give the name of just one counseling agency as providing free counseling, it would seem that stigma would not be nearly as strong IF two or three names are provided.

So is there one rule we can safely follow as originators? The only safe rule would be to be follow the clear written directives of our respective “employing” lenders. Other than that, the number one most important thing is to supply prospects with a compliant list of counselors and make sure not to evaluate with the prospect what counseling service is better than another.

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