The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Housing Counseling updated its Housing Counseling Program Handbook (Handbook 7610.1 REV-6), including the section on HECM counseling. The updates, which take effect on January 1, 2024, are the first set of comprehensive changes implemented to Handbook 7610.1 since 2010.
“The updated Handbook will benefit those helping individuals and families with their housing needs,” said Assistant Secretary for Housing and Federal Housing Commissioner Julia Gordon. “Among other things, it includes enhanced guidance for counseling homeowners considering a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) so they can make an informed choice about options for aging in place.”
Changes made to Chapter 4: Reverse Mortgage Housing Counseling, include:
- Setting an expectation of 60 to 90 minutes on average for HECM counseling sessions;
- Replacing “seniors” with “clients” for accuracy and consistency throughout the Handbook;
- Broadening telephone counseling to include virtual or remote counseling methods;
- Providing more specific contact information for concerns or complaints regarding reverse mortgage lenders or counselors; and
- Adding “mystery shopping” as a potential agency quality control method in which trained personnel act as prospective clients.