There are a number of Homeownership Counseling Agencies dedicated to helping you sort out the nitty-gritty details of the homebuying process. Your Counselor will also help you decide whether or not you are ready for homeownership, review any credit issues that need to be addressed, and help you understand where you stand financially.
Acquiring a Certificate usually involves going to one group session, and one individual session. Contact the agencies to find out the specific requirements and fees. Many agencies also offer other services, such as post-purchase education, default and delinquency counseling, community outreach, and credit and budgeting classes.
FAQs: Homeownership Counseling Certificates
Can I walk-in, or do I need an appointment?
When in doubt, call ahead or check out the website. Most agencies ask that you pre-register for group classes, at which point you might want to make an appointment for one-on-one counseling.
Is there a cost?
The cost depends on the agency. Most are free. Others, ask for a small administrative fee ($5), or will only charge a fee for pulling your credit report ($15 - $20). Whether or not they charge should be on your list of questions to ask the agency.
Can I get a certificate in the County and buy in the City?
Some jurisdictions will accept a certificate from another county, others won’t. Just be sure to tell your counselor when you make your appointment that you live outside the jurisdiction where you’re planning to buy. If you’re considering both Baltimore City and Baltimore County, you’ll want to contact the Harbel Housing Partnership Program. They work in both jurisdictions and might be able to help you negotiate the specifics of both.
Do I need a Homeownership Counseling Certificate to buy a house?
No. But we highly recommend Homeownership Counseling, especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer or you have any concerns at all. 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 taking advantage of Baltimore City incentives, you’re going to have to earn a Homeownership Counseling Certificate first.
What if I need help with my credit before I consider buying a home?
Most homeownership counselors can help with budgeting, but this is something you’ll have to determine upon making an appointment. If credit is a concern, you should consider getting in touch with the Guidewell Financial Solutions. Guidewell is an accredited nonprofit agency that helps people resolve pesky financial hurdles. They provide free budgeting and credit review assistance and also have a debt management program.