As Oct. 1 Approaches, HECM Borrowers See Counseling Bottlenecks

The future for HECM counseling funding remains uncertain, with October 1 as the date when funds are set to dry up. As that date approaches, lenders and some counselors have seen, and are continuing to see wait times for HECM counseling sessions are on the rise. For some, it can take up to two weeks—or longer—for a senior borrower to see an appointment.

“Lenders may be using the October 1 deadline as a way of trying to push people,” one HECM counselor told RMD. “We have seen our call volume jump. Lenders may be saying ‘call around’ [to their customers].”

Clearpoint Credit Counseling reported a wait time of 10 business days, having seen the uptick earlier in September, stretching the lag time from a typical five- business-day wait to 10 days currently.

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For large agencies that are still using funds that were previously allocated, the wait times are getting longer.

“I think you’ll find people shopping for free sessions are waiting longer,” says Daniel Fenton, housing director for Money Management International. “This is a very common effect as agencies who have exhausted their HUD grants scale back on capacity creating backlogs for those still providing substantial service, until the next grant year (usually October 1).”

This year, however, in the absence of counseling funding, free sessions could become scarce very quickly.

“People who don’t want to pay will have to wait a very long time,” Fenton says.

From a lender perspective, the delay presents a new challenge not typically seen, and not expected by the lender or the borrower.

“Counseling is getting scheduled further out than ever before,” says Paul Fiore, head of sales for American Advisors Group. Fiore says in the past, if a borrower was willing and able to pay for counseling, they would be able to make an appointment within three to five days. Now, he says, it can be as long as two to three weeks, which delays the process for all involved.

“Borrowers want to move forward,” he says.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker