Frequently Asked Questions About Housing Counseling

What housing counseling services does CEI offer?
We currently provide counseling for homeowners and prospective homeowners in the areas of homebuyer education, pre-purchase, landlord, HECM (reverse mortgage), and foreclosure prevention. CEI is a HUD-approved housing counseling organization and we operate under the guidance and standards set by the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (www.hud.gov).   In addition, we have adopted the National Standards for Homeownership Education and Counseling (www.homeownershipstandards.org).  We are also an active member of hoMEworks, a statewide coalition with a mission to standardize homebuyer education in the state of Maine (http://mainehomeworks.org).

Where are you located?
Most of our one-on-one counseling occurs at the Brunswick office located at 30 Federal Street, but we occasionally meet with clients in Portland. Homebuyer education and landlord workshops are offered at different locations and can be found at http://mainehomeworks.org.

What areas do you serve?
While most our clients come from Lincoln, Sagadahoc, Knox, Waldo, and Cumberland Counties, we are a statewide counseling resource.

Are there any income limits or fees associated with the services provided?
There are no eligibility requirements for services. We currently offer foreclosure prevention, HECM, and pre-purchase services at no cost; however, homebuyer education and landlord workshops do have fees.

Do you provide financial assistance, rescue funds, monetary support, general assistance, LIHEAP funds, etc. for homeowners in distress?
We do not provide grant or loan funds for these purposes, but we work with clients to assess their individual situation and direct them to potential resources.

Do you provide legal assistance?
While we can often assist homeowners through the foreclosure and mediation process in Maine, we do not provide legal services. We can direct clients to legal resources in their area when appropriate.

What is an HECM Reverse Mortgage?
An HECM loan (or Home Equity Conversion Mortgage) is a loan which allows a borrower to remain in his or her home and, at the same time, access a portion of the home’s equity.

How does a HECM differ from a conventional mortgage?
In a conventional mortgage, the homeowner makes a monthly amortized payment to the lender; after each payment the equity increases by the amount of the principal included in the payment, and when the mortgage has been paid in full the property is released from the mortgage. In a reverse mortgage, the home owner is under no obligation to make payments. This may enable homeowners to remain in a home which might otherwise be unaffordable.

Would I qualify for a reverse mortgage?
The truth is that qualifying for a reverse mortgage is the easy part. You (and anyone on the title to the subject property) must be at least 62 years old and have some equity in the subject property. There are traditionally no credit or income requirements to meet as there are in conventional mortgage lending. The decision, however, to pursue and secure a reverse mortgage is not a simple one.

Can CEI provide me with a reverse mortgage and what are my next steps?
CEI is not a reverse mortgage lender. What we are is a HUD-certified housing counseling agency that provides the required HECM counseling session for those interested in pursuing a reverse mortgage. Before anyone can begin the application process with a reverse mortgage lender, all those people with an interest in the subject property must attend and participate in the HECM counseling session. Please feel free to reach CEI’s housing counseling department to ask questions or set up a HECM counseling session.