Housing Opportunity Certification in Maryland

The Housing Opportunity Committee always has an exciting lineup of speakers for us, and this session is no exception to the rule. Chair Veronica Malolos and Vice-Chair Sarah Ware introduced us to Laurie Benner, the Director of Maryland REALTORS®, who shared what her state association has been doing to help Maryland consumers (and agents) become more financially literate.

Increasingly, housing costs in many areas exceed the financial reach of many low-to-moderate wage earners, such as service sector employees, entry-level staff, and health personnel, as well as teachers, police, and firefighters. Also, as many REALTORS®and lenders know, minorities and new immigrants often fall victim to discrimination and predatory lending practices. There are financial programs and tools that can help address the problem of affordability, and you should learn about them. You can develop your knowledge and expertise to better serve this important and growing market by taking steps to become HOC.

Housing Opportunity Certified (formerly WHC) REALTORS® are specially trained to receive customer inquiries on workforce and affordable housing finance programs for selected jurisdictions. Earning this popular certification requires completion of the following three core classes in any sequence, as well as one elective course:

  1. FEDERAL PROGRAMS AND NATIONAL INITIATIVES (Course #881-1604, Category F Professional Enhancement, 1.5 hours), includes information on programs and new regulations for HUD/FHA/VA/USDA, as well as national private sector/guaranty programs.
  2. STATE AND LOCAL PROGRAMS (Course #879-1604, Category F Professional Enhancement, 1.5 hours), provides fundamentals about state and local programs available for low/no down payment, closing cost grants, extended term mortgages, as well as other tax credits, plus government resources for homeownership education and counseling. The course includes an overview of Maryland REALTORS® consumer website www.maryland homeownership.com.
  3. MARYLAND MORTGAGE PROGRAM & MARYLAND HOMECREDIT PROGRAM (Course #880-1604, Category F Professional Enhancement, 1.5 hours) a comprehensive discussion of the various DHCD mortgage products and programs including qualifications, income guidelines, and special incentive areas. Taught by DHCD staff.

HOC electives include:

  1. CreditSmart® (6 hours – no CE), taught by Freddie Mac certified trainers, this is a “Train the Trainer” program to prepare you to educate consumers about getting and maintaining good credit, credit scoring, money management, and budgeting. Any prior CreditSmart certification is counted towards WHC.
  2. NAR’ s Employer-Assisted Housing, Expanding Housing Opportunities, or At Home With Diversity®. See http://www.realtor.org/education
  3. Any other Maryland Real Estate Commission approved CE course concentrating on a specific loan program such as FHA/VA/USDA,  classes about serving first-time homebuyers, or credit education.

There is no exam, and there is no Maryland REALTOR® charges or fees for the HOC certification. There may be some materials or facility costs associated with certain classes or locations. After completing the required classes, your name will be placed on a revolving referral list on the http://www.marylandhomeownership.com website, based on your preferred business locations (up to three.)

The HOC program is not affiliated or endorsed by the National Association of REALTORS®.

After the HOC certification is obtained, it is good for a two-year cycle ending on December 31 of the expiring year. To stay certified, you must complete the Maryland Mortgage Program class and another HOC course within the second year.

Erica Ramus

Erica Ramus is the broker/owner of RAMUS Realty Group in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. She was in NAR’s REALTOR® University’s first graduating class to earn the MRE degree and she serves on both state and national REALTOR® group committees. She teaches pre-licensing and continuing education real estate courses at Penn State University and is on the Board of Regents at Realtor University.

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