We are a comprehensive housing counseling agency. We’re certified by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as a housing counseling agency and it also contracts with the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency to provide a variety of housing counseling services. The Agency’s counselors are certified through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling as both credit and housing counselors.
Buying a Home?
Buying a home is the single largest investment most of us will ever make. Sadly, most of us were never taught personal finance in school or exposed to our parent’s finances at home. Perhaps questions keep popping to the surface like “Can I really afford to buy a house?” or “How will I know if I am being charged reasonable closing fees,” or “What interest rate should I expect to get?” Perhaps you can already answer those questions but foreign real estate words like earnest money, points, HUD I Settlement Statements, title insurance, or margins and indexes make you uneasy. If you feel even a little intimidated by the whole home buying process then our homebuyer education workshops are for you.
Some of the topics covered in our workshops include:
- Financing a home: you can qualify for below market interest rates even if you earn more than $25.00 per hour!
- Qualifying for a mortgage: you can get a mortgage even if your credit is less than perfect.
- Shopping for a home: you can have your own personal real estate agent working for you, not the seller! And best yet, free of charge.
- The loan application process.
- The closing process.
- Life as a homeowner: the good, the bad, and the downright ugly!
The average homeowner will spend well over 10,000 hours working to pay for a house; don’t you owe it to yourself to spend a half-day gaining the knowledge you need to make wise choices? Please contact our education department at 1-800-599-6497 for a complete schedule of our upcoming home buying workshops.
In addition to workshops, the Agency also offers one on one counseling in all of our locations. This type of counseling is beneficial for potential homeowners who, after attending a workshop find they still need a little guidance. During the session, the counselor will prepare a comprehensive spending plan and determine “how much house” is affordable based on income and individual circumstances. In addition, the counselor can also ascertain how much is needed for a down payment and closing costs. Finally, the counselor can help those who need to clean up their credit report by developing a payment plan and assisting with disputing any inaccurate entries.
House Rich and Cash Poor?
Reverse Mortgage Counseling
A reverse mortgage is a way to tap the equity in one’s home without having to pay back a loan until the home is sold. It is available to homeowners who are 62 or older who own the home free and clear or who only have a very small mortgage left to pay. There are several types of reverse mortgages. A very popular reverse mortgage titled “Home Equity Conversion Mortgage” or HECM is insured by the federal government through FHA insurance. This type of reverse mortgage requires the homeowner to receive counseling from a HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) counselor prior to taking a HECM. The purpose of counseling is to ensure that the homeowner:
- Is aware of the costs associated with a reverse mortgage such as closing costs, interest, and insurance fees.
- Is familiar with reverse mortgage terminology and how it works.
- Understands its pros and cons.
- Is informed of other options.
- Is aware of other implications such as tax consequences, the possible impact on state or federal assistance the homeowner receives, and the impact to any heirs of the home.
The Agency provides HECM reverse mortgage counseling at all of our office locations and by phone for homeowners who live further than 50 miles from the nearest HUD-approved counseling agency. Please contact us at 1-800-599-6497 to schedule an appointment. For additional reverse mortgage information, visit AARP?s website at https://www.aarp.org/money/budgeting-saving/.
Can’t Make Your Mortgage Payments?
Foreclosure Prevention Counseling (For Residents of Pennsylvania Only)
Our homes become like best friends; we tend to get attached to them. After all, many of our fondest memories are anchored in our homes. Of all the tragic events that can occur in our lifetimes, losing a home through a foreclosure ranks very high. Laws vary across the country, but in many states, foreclosure action can begin after the mortgage is past due by 31 days. A mortgage is a priority, but sometimes circumstances such as loss of employment or an unexpected medical emergency force us to make choices such as buying food and medications or paying the mortgage.
If you are unable to pay your mortgage, the key to the best outcome is to immediately contact your lender and continue working with your lender until there is a resolution. Lenders have programs available that may suit your needs. For instance, your lender may be able to modify your current mortgage or if you must sell the home, allow you to give the deed back in lieu of a foreclosure. Before a lender will consider stalling any legal actions it may have with regards to a foreclosure, it will demand you provide proof that the cause of your mortgage delinquency was beyond your control. To help you present your best case, the Agency strongly recommends you seek default and delinquency counseling at one of its locations. If we don’t have a location near you, we will refer you to another HUD approved counseling agency. The purpose of default and delinquency counseling is to:
- Identify what caused (or what will cause) you to become delinquent with your mortgage
- Provide comprehensive budget and credit counseling coupled with an action plan
- Develop a ?picture? of your current financial situation
- Identify documentation (that your lender will require) confirming your circumstances
- Act as an intermediary with your lender by proposing mortgage options best suited to your current financial situation and your likely situation six months from now
Pennsylvania residents may qualify for a special loan program through the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. Prior to taking foreclosure action, a lender must send a notice regarding the Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program. Once receiving the notice, homeowners have 30 days to apply for the assistance (through a participating credit counseling agency). Eligible homeowners receive funds to bring the mortgage current and may also receive ongoing assistance with the mortgage payment for up to 24 months. Please note that FHA home purchase loans do not qualify for this program. Complete program guidelines and eligibility criteria are available at https://www.phfa.org/consumers/homeowners/hemap.
Homeowners who have received this notice should contact the Agency or another participating agency immediately. Please contact us at 1-800-599-6497 to schedule an appointment.
Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Western Pennsylvania (CCCS of Western PA) has changed its name to Advantage Credit Counseling Service, Inc. (Advantage CCS).
On April, 8th 2004 CCCS of Western PA was rebranded to the new name of Advantage Credit Counseling Service, Inc. and we also have a new website at www.advantageccs.org. We are the same reputable and trusted non-profit credit counseling agency that has been helping people with their debt for over 49 years. Advantage CCS is still Pennsylvania’s largest consumer credit counseling agency.
Founded in 1968, Advantage CCS is headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with multiple office locations across the state. We are a non-profit credit counseling agency that is approved and licensed. We are proud members of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) and accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA).