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New Site Launched for Client Referral to Housing/Credit Counselors

Pam Marron
Apr 06, 2020

The first seminar for a pilot program that connects loan originators with housing counselors to assist challenged clients was presented on Jan. 23. The message from attendees: Provide simple steps for the referral process and explain the resources provided. The finishing touches are being put on a Web site,, made to do just that.
Pam Marron, a loan originator at Innovative Mortgage Services Inc.The “About the Site” section explains the three areas of help clients commonly need and how HUD credit and housing counselors can be the referral source to assist these clients for loan originators and real estate agents. Not all housing counseling agencies have the same services, but a great deal of time and work has been spent with one housing counseling agency (HCA), Neighborhood Home Solutions in St. Petersburg, Fla. with the focus on the top three areas of need that loan originators and real estate agents most encounter that prevent a client from purchasing a home:
1. Credit (and NOT credit repair)
2. Downpayment Assistance (DPA)
3. Home Budgeting

Tops on the list is assisting clients with credit issues

The correction of erroneous credit, the building of credit, improving credit scores and restructuring student loan repayments are all common issues that impede clients from getting a home. All HUD housing counselors are trained to assist clients with basic credit issues, but certified credit counselors are trained for in-depth credit counseling and debt management (not credit repair and debt settlement). Credit counselors can talk directly with credit reporting agencies and creditors with clients. They can also use credit tools that can determine how to improve credit scores, show what can be done to build credit and zero in on where a credit error exists.

Downpayment assistance program knowledge is second greatest need for clients and LOs

Keeping track of available downpayment assistance (DPA) programs, different underwriting criteria between the first mortgage and the second DPA mortgage, and a variety of other details that must be focused on can be daunting to most LOs.
Additionally, national mortgage wholesalers have realized the need for DPA programs for the independent LO side of business and have begun rolling out their own programs in the last few years. Wholesaler DPA programs are highly competitive with the existing city, county and state programs, offering DPA funds all year round.
In Florida, to streamline all DPA programs available, a matrix is being developed that will include the wholesaler, city, county and state programs and will start with city and county programs in Tampa Bay, Fla., expanding from there. Three wholesalers that provide proprietary DPA programs and a page that lists wholesalers that use Chenoa Funds will be included on the Web site and matrix spreadsheet. This spreadsheet provides specific information that LOs need, like maximum ratios, extra costs, income limits, etc. As more programs become available, they will be added. This document is being provided to ensure that all DPA options are available with pertinent information at-a-glance to assist LOs, real estate agents and housing counselors in determining what DPA a client might be eligible for in a particular area.

Home budgeting is third in client need

Many, especially Millennials, have never been taught how to properly 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 out of the realm of possibility. At an HCA event attended, a comment was made by a client receiving home budgeting education to their counselor that they were taking what was learned home to their parents who had never had budgeting education either!
To make the referral process as easy as possible, auto-fill forms to complete are located at Auto-fill documents, along with supporting documentation (if available), are needed to complete the handoff of a referral from a loan originator to the housing counselor.
If the documents are not completed and sent to the credit or housing counselor by the referring LO, there is nothing that connects you to the client to insure that your client is referred back to you when they are deemed “Mortgage Ready.”
Whether your client needs help with one or all three of the issues noted, Neighborhood Home Solutions can accommodate clients in Florida for services of this pilot program. There is a $275 Fee for Service and credit report cost of $20.18/single or $40.36/joint that must be paid upfront. Beverly Malina, credit and housing counselor, can be reached by phone at (727) 209-0131 or e-mail For more information or help outside of Florida, contact me directly at (727) 375-8986 or e-mail

Stay tuned.

Pam Marron (NMLS#: 246438) is senior loan originator with Innovative Mortgage Services Inc. (NMLS#: 250769) in Tampa Bay, Fla. She may be reached by phone at (727) 375-8986, e-mail or visit, or

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