Nearly all homebuying incentive programs require that you earn a Homeownership Counseling Certificate from a City-approved counseling agency BEFORE making an offer on a home.
Counselors can also help you determine if you are ready for homeownership, review any credit issues that need to be addressed before applying for a mortgage, and assist with certain homebuying incentive applications (such as the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG)). Some agencies offer additional services, such as post-purchase education, default and delinquency counseling, community outreach, and credit and budgeting classes.
Acquiring a Homeownership Counseling Certificate usually involves attending one group class and one individual appointment. Online classes may also be available. Contact each agency for its specific offerings, program requirements, and fees.
The following Homeownership Counseling Agencies have been approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Baltimore City Office of Homeownership. Only these agencies can issue Homeownership Counseling Certificates for Baltimore City homebuying incentive programs.
No. But we highly recommend Homeownership Counseling, especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer. Buying a home is a big investment and you should take advantage of every opportunity to educate yourself before taking the plunge. Keep in mind, that if you plan on using Baltimore City or Maryland Mortgage Program incentives, you must earn a Homeownership Counseling Certificate first.
When in doubt, call ahead or check the website. Most agencies ask that you pre-register for group classes. All require appointments for one-on-one sessions.
The cost depends on the agency. Many are free. Others ask for a small administrative fee or charge for pulling your credit report ($15 to $20). Online counseling has a higher cost. Ask about fees before registering for your group class.
When using Baltimore City homebuying incentive programs, you must obtain your Homeownership Counseling Certificate from a City-approved counseling agency.
Most homeownership counselors can help with budgeting and credit questions. If credit is a concern, speak with your mortgage lender about ways to improve your credit or attend a credit information session with Live Baltimore. We do not recommend hiring a credit repair company. Most credit issues can be handled on your own, free of charge.
Have more questions about homeownership counseling?
We’re here to help. Send us an email or call 410-637-3750 for one-on-one assistance.
Take the Next Step
- Save your recommendations for later.
- Get access to our Financial Incentives Tool.
- Connect with a Live Baltimore staff member for a one-on-one consultation.
- Get a free I ♥ City Life bumper sticker.