Selling Guide

Published October 06, 2021

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B2-2-06, Homeownership Education and Housing Counseling (10/06/2021)

Introduction

This topic contains information on homeownership education and housing counseling, including:


Overview

Fannie Mae believes that credit and underwriting guidelines alone are not always enough to assess a borrower’s readiness for homeownership. High-quality homeownership education and housing counseling can provide the borrower with the additional information and resources to make informed decisions that support long-term homeownership sustainability. Fannie Mae requires programs that are aligned with the National Industry Standards (NIS) for Homeownership Education and Counseling or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Counseling Program, or provided by a HUD-approved counseling agency.


Compliance with Law

All education, collection, and counseling efforts must comply with the requirements of applicable federal and state laws, including the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, and the Fair Credit Reporting Act.


Definitions

The following definitions apply to these requirements:

  • Homeownership Education: Education with an established curriculum and instructional goals, provided in a group, classroom setting, or via other formats, that covers homeownership topics such as the home-buying process, how to maintain a home, budgeting, and the importance of good credit.

  • Housing Counseling: One-on-one assistance that addresses unique financial circumstances and housing issues, and focuses on overcoming specific obstacles to achieve housing goals. Counseling includes topics such as repairing credit, locating cash for a down payment, recognizing predatory lending practices, understanding fair lending and fair housing requirements, avoiding foreclosure, and resolving a financial crisis.  All housing counseling involves the creation of a budget and a written action plan, and includes a homeownership education component.


Transactions that Require Homeownership Education

For the following transactions, at least one borrower on the loan must complete homeownership education prior to loan closing:

  • if all borrowers on the loan are relying solely on nontraditional credit to qualify, regardless of the loan product or whether the borrowers are first-time homebuyers;

  • HomeReady purchase transactions, when all occupying borrowers are first-time homebuyers; or

  • purchase transactions with LTV, CLTV, or HCLTV ratios greater than 95%, when all borrowers are first-time homebuyers.

Note: The requirements that apply to purchases also apply to construction-to-permanent transactions that are processed as a purchase.


Meeting the Homeownership Education Requirement

To satisfy the homeownership education requirement, Fannie Mae permits any qualified third-party provider, independent of the lender, to administer homeownership education. The provider’s content must be aligned with NIS or HUD standards. The education may be delivered in various formats (in-person, Internet, telephone, or a hybrid format). In lieu of homeownership education, the borrower may receive housing counseling.

The lender must confirm the course content is aligned with NIS or HUD standards and must retain a copy of the certificate of course completion in the loan file.


Housing Counseling

Housing counseling must be provided by a HUD-approved agency and meet HUD standards for the delivery of this service. The following requirements apply when counseling is obtained to satisfy the homeowner education requirement:  

  • If a borrower opts to work with a housing counselor, completion of housing counseling prior to closing will satisfy Fannie Mae’s homeownership education requirement. The lender must retain a copy of the certificate of course completion in the loan file.
  • HomeReady borrowers who complete housing counseling prior to the execution of the sales contract may be eligible for a loan-level price adjustment credit. The requirements of the counseling are described in the Certificate of Completion of Housing Counseling (Form 1017). This form must be signed by the counseling recipient (the borrower) and the HUD counselor if the counseling is obtained prior to the sales contract. The lender must retain a copy of the form in the loan file. See  B5-6-02, HomeReady Mortgage Underwriting Methods and Requirements, for additional information.

Note: References to the use of a HUD-approved agency include affiliated agencies (as defined in the HUD Housing Counseling Program Handbook) participating in a HUD program through a HUD-approved intermediary or State Housing Finance Agency.


Additional Resources

Fannie Mae provides additional resources to lenders, borrowers, and nonprofit agencies in support of homeownership education and housing counseling on its website.


Summary of Homeownership Education and Housing Counseling Options

  Homeownership Education Housing Counseling
Eligible Provider
  •  Any qualified third-party provider, independent of the lender; which can include a mortgage insurance company (without regard to whether they provide mortgage insurance coverage for the particular transaction)

  • Education course provided by a Community Seconds or other down payment assistance program provider, where the program requires homeownership education or counseling provided by a HUD-approved agency

     

HUD-approved agency
Course Content Course content must align with NIS or HUD standards  Course content must align with HUD standards 
Method of Delivery Any method offered by an eligible provider Any method offered per HUD standards
Date Required for Completion Prior to loan closing

Prior to loan closing

Note: There may be an additional incentive for HomeReady loans when housing counseling is completed prior to the execution of the sales contract.

Required Documentation

Certificate of course completion from the provider

If after execution of the sales contract but prior to closing, certificate of course completion from the provider.

If prior to execution of the sales contract (HomeReady loans) Form 1017 signed by both the counseling recipient (borrower) and the HUD counselor.

The table below provides references to the Announcements that have been issued and that are related to this topic.

Announcements Issue Date
Announcement SEL-2021-09 October 06, 2021
Announcement SEL-2019-08 October 02, 2019
Announcement SEL-2017–02 February 28, 2017
Announcement SEL-2016–08 October 24, 2016
Announcement SEL-2016–06 July 26, 2016
Announcement SEL-2015–13 December 15, 2015
Announcement SEL-2015–10 September 29, 2015
Announcement SEL-2015–01 January 27, 2015
Announcement SEL-2013–03 April 9, 2013
Announcement SEL-2011–03 March 31, 2011
Announcement SEL-2010–16 December 1, 2010

 

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