The Consumer Financial Protection Agency reminded
lenders today of the requirement, starting January 10, to provide consumers
with a list of homeownership counseling organizations. Consumers should be given such a list at the
time they apply for a mortgage so they know where to get help or guidance to
decide which loan is the best for them.
CFPB said it recognizes that developing
a method to generate these lists appropriately may take lenders some time so
they might not be able to provide the lists by the rules implementation date,
so today it both launched a tool to help consumers find local housing
counseling agencies and published guidance for lenders on how to prepare lists
of these organizations for their customers. The Bureau suggests that lenders can also use
the on-line consumer tool to build their own lists of agencies if they desire
Housing counselors can provide
advice on buying a home, renting, defaults, foreclosures, and credit issues, often
at little or no cost to consumers. The tool:
- Shows consumers their closest options: The tool uses a search box and mapping function to
show the consumer the ten closest counseling agencies to their zip code.
- Provides contact information for HUD-approved
counselors: The tool only draws on
information from the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD)
official list of housing counselors.
- Displays services offered by counseling agencies: When counselors are listed, the tool shows the
consumer which services are available there, such as rental housing
counseling, pre-purchase counseling, or default resolution counseling.
- Lists the languages offered: For those consumers who would prefer to receive
housing counseling in a language other than English, the tool lists the
languages that each housing counseling agency offers.
If a lender prefers to build its own
list it can look to today's interpretive rule for instructions and can also consider
directing borrowers to the CFPB's new tool in the interim. If lenders take these steps in good faith
while building their systems or are working with vendors to build systems, the
CFPB would not raise supervisory or enforcement concerns.
"Consumers need and deserve the best
guidance when making the decision to purchase a home," said CFPB Director
Richard Cordray. "Buying a home may easily be the largest investment a consumer
makes, and we want to make it easier for them to find a housing counselor that
is a good fit for them."
Consumers and lenders can access the
new tool at http://www.consumerfinance.gov/find-a-housing-counselor/.