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Answering Common Questions About Housing Counselors

July 23, 2021 | by Michael Wilt

Categories: Affordable Housing, Financial Education, First Time Buyer, Home Buyer Education, Housing Counseling

One of TSAHC’s core functions is to support housing counselors that help Texans remain stably housed, get ready for homeownership, and navigate the home buying process. But many people either don't know what housing counselors do or are unsure if they need one.

That's why we're sharing this recent Q&A that Zillow Group conducted with Sylvia Alvarez, the founder and Executive Director of the Housing and Education Alliance. We're sharing our favorite answers to questions she answered below (edited slightly for length), and we invite you to read the entire interview here

What is a HUD-certified housing counselor?

"Housing counselors help prospective homebuyers make informed decisions about if — and when — they should become homeowners. Counselors must take extensive training, have years of experience in housing issues and pass a HUD certification exam that demonstrates their ability to explain the homebuying and financing process."

How is the advice a housing counselor gives different from what people can get from a real estate agent or lender?  

"A housing counselor is an independent advocate for the homebuyer, and works in concert with all the different players, the real estate agent, the lender and with the municipality that may be able to offer the buyer down payment assistance. We’re sort of like the hub and our spokes go out to these partners. Housing counselors protect the consumer. We want to make sure that consumers make the right choices and are educated, so that they know when something is good and when something is not." 

Many people think their credit score is the most important thing to get approved for a loan. True?

"No. There are four components to getting approved, the “Four Cs:” credit, capital, collateral and capacity to pay back the loan. You can have one, but if you don’t have any of the others, you’re not going to get approved. You have to have all four Cs."

What’s your biggest piece of advice for people thinking about working with a housing counselor? 

"Buying a home is complicated with a lot of moving pieces. Don’t just come to get the certificate. It’s so important that people get educated before they make mistakes. I’ve had clients who’ve already put money down for appraisals or home inspections. And they say, 'boy, I wish I’d taken this class earlier — I never would have done that.'"

TSAHC and Housing counselors

Through our Housing Connection program, we provide virtual and in-person training to Texas housing counselors.  Our goal is to create the next generation of HUD-approved housing counselors while also helping existing counselors hone their skills. We're proud to say that to date we've provided training to 642 individuals representing 239 organizations in 99 municipalities across Texas.

We're also a partner in the Texas Housing Stability Collaborative (THSC), a growing a network of individuals and organizations working to avert home mortgage foreclosures and rental evictions and to minimize the resulting financial impacts on Texas families and communities. Through this collaborative, we're working to raise awareness about the free mortgage and rental assistance available to Texans through services provided by HUD-approved housing counseling agencies.

Lastly, we maintain the www.texasfinancialtoolbox.com web site which connects Texans to housing counselors and organizations that help you manage finances, purchase or repair a home, or prevent a home foreclosure.


On the House blog posts are meant to provide general information on various housing-related issues, research and programs. We are not liable for any errors or inaccuracies in the information provided by blog sources. Furthermore, this blog is not legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed professional attorney.

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