Steps for Loan Originators to Refer Clients to Housing Counseling Agency (HCA)

Six Steps to get your client "mortgage ready"!

​When the idea of connecting mortgage loan originators (MLO) to HUD housing counselors and certified credit counselors was first presented, a simple step by step process of how to make the referral was requested. Follow all steps below. Let us know where more detail is needed at

Step 1. Assess Client for their need 

Credit: Short Term (resolved within 1 yr): 

Credit counseling includes:

  • Correct credit issues

  • build credit

  • improve credit scores

Credit: Long Term (resolved 1-5 yrs) 

Credit counseling includes:

  • Correct credit issues

  • Build credit

  • improve credit scores

  • Debt management plans

  • Debt consolidation

  • Student loan counseling/debt management

  • Bankruptcy counseling

  • Modification counseling

  • Foreclosure counseling

Downpayment Assistance: NOTE; 1ST MORTGAGE AND DPA FINANCING USUALLY HAVE VARYING UNDERWITING CRITERIA! Check income and credit scores 1st and call source to confirm funds are still available! Use the downpayment resource tab to determine what client might be eligible for. 

Budgeting: especially important now as the U.S. experiences the consequences of job loss and tightened income during the Coronavirus pandemic.  

Step 2. Determine the referral counselor source

Any housing counselor can help a client access and apply for DPA that they might be eligible for.  Some HCA’s actually administer DPA funds for their county or municipality. 

Housing Counselor: assist clients in budgeting, financial responsibility, and program availability with regard to Area Median Income. Work with the client and lender and review documentation, rates and fees to ensure they have met program requirements.

Certified Credit Counselor: provides guidance and support on consumer credit, money and debt management, and budgeting. Short term resolution (within 1 yr) and long term resolution *(1-5yrs) available. *Not all agencies have long term available so check.

Certified Counselors in Downpayment Assistance

provide assistance to those looking for down payment options. 

Housing counselors throughout the country can provide advice on buying a home, renting, defaults, foreclosures, and credit issues. Use the search box at  to find a counselor in your area.   

All HUD Housing Counseling Agencies have housing counselors that can be located at 

In Florida:

In & Out of Florida:

Certified credit counselors and HUD Housing counselors:

Credit: Short Term Help (resolved max.1 yr)

​Credit counseling includes:

  • Correct credit issues

  • build credit

  • improve credit scores


Work with a certified credit counselor to get credit issues resolved​ within 1 yr timeframe.

Credit: Long Term Help (resolved1-5 yrs)

​​Credit counseling includes:

  • ​Correct credit issues

  • Build credit

  • improve credit scores

  • Debt management plans

  • Debt consolidation

  • Student loan counseling/debt management

  • Bankruptcy counseling


​Work with a certified credit counselor to get longer term credit issues resolved​ within 1-5  yrs.

Downpayment Assistance Resources

​a comprehensive list of ALL known Florida city, county (SHIP) and state DPA programs as well as wholesaler DPA programs available nationwide are provided on the matrixes linked below. Lists are searchable and programs in your client's area can be searched by words such as city, county, SHIP or state.

​Wholesaler programs are available to independent loan originators, or mortgage brokers.


Three lists are provided:

  1. Florida City/County (SHIP) and State DPA Programs (Florida only)

  2. Proprietary Wholesaler Programs (in and outside of Florida)

  3. Wholesalers that offer Chenoa Funds (in and outside of Florida).

Also:​ (in and outside of Florida)

Home Budgeting Help

​Many, especially millennials, have never been taught how to budget for a home. Having a third-party look at your spending habits and put you on track for a home in your future provides hope for many who thought homeownership was not a possibility.

Step 3. Decide who pays for upfront counseling services

​Yes, there is a Fee for Service that the client or loan originator pays upfront. But the consistent attention to challenged client needs by trained counselors results in quicker turnaround to get your client "mortgage ready"... and is worth the found time to originate more loans! 


Two ways counseling fee can be paid

  1. The client can provide the counseling service fee upfront and receive a credit towards their mortgage closing costs by the referring loan originator at closing.

  2. The loan originator can provide the counseling fee upfront. Check on how this can be done with your company.

Step 4. Provide forms, documents  to counselor  

​Some housing counseling agencies require 1 or more forms to be signed by the client and loan originator upfront... others do not.


A coverletter and 4 forms with details for each to be utilized with Neighborhood Home Solutions can be found at


 E-signatures on forms are acceptable. 

Provide these forms and a copy of your credit report, 1003 and any supporting documentation to the housing or credit counselor upon making the referral.

Step 5. Communicate with counselor on client's status, the client & then update real estate agent.

Loan originators and counselors need to determine a method to stay in touch on client progress. A once a month email or phone call to the housing/credit counselor, an updated note in your tickler system provides the loan originator with the opportunity to connect and brief the referring real estate agent of a client's status.

Loan originators will want to stay in contact with clients and encourage them. And what real estate agent is going to turn down your call that lets them know of the clients progress?

Step 6. If client paid for counselor services upfront, provide credit towards closing costs on mortgage. Celebrate at closing, and ask for referrals!

​Your credit back to closings costs for upfront counseling costs paid by your client.... or a credit provided to your client upfront to get them "mortgage ready"... is an investment into your clients future! goal of owning a home! Celebrate by attending the closing and don't forget to ask your client and real estate agent for referrals of others that could use your help.

Here's the secret.... when you start this referral partnership with your housing and credit counselors, you always have an option for clients who are willing to do the work to get into a home! "Go get it fixed" is replaced with "if you are willing to do the work, we have an option!"


And.... don't forget to thank the housing or credit counselor that assisted you in getting your client "mortgage ready"!