HECM Counseling Goes High-Tech, Agency Brings Borrowers Online

With the future for housing counseling funding through the Department of Housing and Urban Development remaining uncertain, one counseling agency is taking the early education process online and to the phone before counseling takes place. This, it says, will make for more efficiency and a more affordable counseling process overall.

Money Management International will roll out a new process beginning October 1, which will offer general reverse mortgage education through an online program or group conference call sessions led by an MMI HUD/HECM certified counselor. Both the online and phone sessions will take about an hour to complete, MMI says.

“It brings more efficiencies,” says Jennifer Flynn, senior director, industry relations for MMI, noting that conference call sessions will be limited to a maximum of 30 people.

Following the course, the potential borrower will be directed to speak on the phone with a counselor who will then complete a personalized counseling session. The phone prompt will only become available at the end of the session to ensure the borrower goes through the entire course. The session will include a review of the senior’s specific borrowing information as well as an opportunity to ask any questions he or she has following the initial education session.

The new options aim to streamline the process by informing the borrower in advance of the actual counseling session and making sure that all necessary information has been distributed upfront.

Through testing, Flynn says, MMI has worked to make sure that appropriate staffing is on hand for counseling sessions following the group phone sessions, and has made an effort to time the calls so they are accessible across time zones.

“In this market, we want to make sure the consumer is getting what they need,” she says.

Effective October 1, 2011 the cost of counseling will be $125, MMI says, but clients will not be denied services based on inability to pay.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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