New Reverse Mortgage Counseling Tool Released

image Alliance Credit Counseling released Reverse Mortgage Counseling Locator to assist both lenders and borrowers in finding approved counseling agencies.

When borrowers enter their zip codes, the website automatically populates a list of ten HUD-approved HECM counselors (five local, five national) along with directions to the locations and shows what type of counseling is available: in person, by phone, or by webinar.

The service also enables lenders to print or email counseling lists to prospective borrowers, along with the NCOA’s “Use Your Home to Stay at Home” and HUD’s “Preparing for Your Counseling Session” letter.  In addition, lenders have the ability to track which loan officers have sent out counseling materials to specific borrowers.

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The service also provides borrowers the opportunity to save $10-$15 on their counseling session by filling out the budget worksheet or completing their budgets online.

Reverse Mortgage Counseling Locator

Written by Reva Minkoff

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  • I would be wary of any detailed information you get from this system regarding local counseling. There is no public source of information about which agencies do in-person vs. telephone counseling, so that information would basically have to be fabricated. Furthermore, the addresses on HUD's official counselor roster do not necessarily correspond with the addresses where counseling is actually provided, so directions may not be accurate. Basically, this is an agency attempting to promote their own telephone counseling service in the guise of providing information.

    • Counselor,

      Thank you for the warning but the information provided in this article is very helpful. If seniors can fill in budget information in their own time rather in the pressure of an hour and/or I can help them gather the information, why not? Maybe this is a feature that all counseling needs to embrace along with the option of working with a counselor on this issue live.

      Does your counseling service offer the Internet input option?

  • I just checked it out with my zip code and it seems pretty accurate to me. All the borrower has to do is make a phone call to set up counseling and verify the address.
    Counselor: It seems like a little jealousy. This looks like a great tool to me as a loan originator.

  • Nice website for borrowers, but this list for lenders is NOT HUD compliant. The list has the required 5 agencies and 4 national groups, but it also has a advertisement promoting a particular agency on it. When I looked it seems to be always a California based one called Springboard.

    HUD's Mortgage Letter 20005-24 says “The lender may not steer, direct, recommend, or otherwise encourage a client to seek the services of any one particular counseling agency….”

    Handing a borrower list with one agency promoted above others looks like steering to me, and the fact that the list was created by a third party does not protect the lender. Unless counselinglocator can get an official blessing from HUD, I don't think its safe to use.

  • I agree. How would lenders feel if a counseling agency generated a “HUD compliant” lender list that highlighted and featured a lender right in the middle of the list. Hmmmm?

    • A concerned counselor,

      What??? Are you saying that a lender is sponsoring the RM Counseling Locator website? Otherwise there is no logic to your comment.

      There are several “independent” websites already claiming that you will get the best lender by using their site to select a lender. Then you find several lender ads on those sites. Of course the site never suggests a lender which has not paid to be included among those being recommended. This is nothing new.

      It would be new if a counseling agency set up a site for selecting lenders just like it would be new if there was a site set up by a lender recommending counseling agencies.

      Since there is no lender that has a website for selecting counselors, how would a counseling agency website for selecting and also advertising lenders be similar????

      • Critic:

        I think the logic is there. Counselors know they must never steer to a particular lender, so they don't like it when lenders steer to a particular counseling agency.

        He/she believes that lenders have a responsibility to be impartial when it comes to providing clients with counseling agency information.He/she is correct.

        It does not matter who is getting paid for the advertisement, if the lender provides the advertisement to the client they are promoting the advertised agency, and violating HUD directives, in this case they are just not being paid for it.

        Anyway, whether or not you agree, using a the HUD mandated list to promote a particular counseling agency is a risk, and it wont be hard for HUD to take enforcement action because the evidence will be there in black and white.

      • PaulR56,

        No where on this thread was there a single accusation that a lender is running the RM Counselor Locator website. Now “A concerned counselor” begins running down a scenario about a counseling agency running a website listing … lenders. That is an illogical comparison unless that “counselor” is claiming that the website in question is owned and/or operated by a particular lender which was neither stated nor expressly implied.

        Maybe Mortgagee Letter 20005-24 (does not exist) has some impartial standard imbedded in it but ML 2004-25 does not. ML 2004-25 tells what actions I may not commit in recommending a counselor. It does not tell me what to think. I can be as impartial as I choose to be.

        Please read Mortgagee Letter 2009-10. If we have offices in the same community and there are more than five local counseling agencies, there is no rule that requires you and I to list the same counseling agencies. Is there some impartial standard that is somehow required to be applied in creating that list? No where is it required that I ensure my listing is the least bit impartial. The ML does NOT mandate that local counseling agencies have to be in the order of proximity to the borrower’s home or in alphabetical order. It could even be in the order I think will serve the borrower the best or that has the least cost, etc.

        Your accuracy in representing the contents of Mortgagee Letters is as accurate as your citation. Be careful what you promote. By the standards to which you hold others, others have the right to hold you.

  • Dear Critic,

    Thank you for pointing out my typo the mortgagee letter I am quoting is ML 2004-25, not 20005-24. Fat fingers and late night, I am sorry, thanks for the edit.

    I agree impartiality is too much for “concerned counselor” to expect, but promoting a single agency? I don't think that is permissible and doing it in writing is a bad idea.

    ML 2004-25 does state that:

    “The lender may not steer, direct, recommend, or otherwise encourage a client to seek the services of any one particular counseling agency….”

    I know 2009-10 does not repeat it but I don't think we can ignore this language. I appreciate the subtly of your answer, as you said HUD “tells what actions I may not commit in recommending a counselor. It does not tell me what to think”.

    The trouble comes if someone were to write down their opinion and gives it to the borrower, or hands them a third party opinion, doesn't that become a clear recommendation? This is what I believe the counselorlocator list does.

    Do we agree on this or have you a line of thinking that would allow us to openly promote use of a single favored agency?

  • Dear Critic,nnThank you for pointing out my typo the mortgagee letter I am quoting is ML 2004-25, not 20005-24. Fat fingers and late night, I am sorry, thanks for the edit. nnI agree impartiality is too much for “concerned counselor” to expect, but promoting a single agency? I don’t think that is permissible and doing it in writing is a bad idea.nn ML 2004-25 does state that:nn”The lender may not steer, direct, recommend, or otherwise encourage a client to seek the services of any one particular counseling agency….”nnI know 2009-10 does not repeat it but I don’t think we can ignore this language. I appreciate the subtly of your answer, as you said HUD u201ctells what actions I may not commit in recommending a counselor. It does not tell me what to thinku201d.nnThe trouble comes if someone were to write down their opinion and gives it to the borrower, or hands them a third party opinion, doesn’t that become a clear recommendation? This is what I believe the counselorlocator list does. nnDo we agree on this or have you a line of thinking that would allow us to openly promote use of a single favored agency?

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