Mortgage giant Freddie Mac has a new tool to help housing counselors gauge the readiness of first-time home buyers to apply for mortgage loans, the company said today.

Loan Prospector Outreach helps housing counselors assess the readiness of their clients to apply for a mortgage and help lenders get more qualified mortgage leads, according to Freddie Mac.

“Developing and making Loan Prospector Outreach available is one of the ways Freddie Mac is living up to its mission to expand home-ownership opportunities,” said Tricia McClung, vice president of Housing and Community Investment for Freddie Mac, in a statement.

“By utilizing the technology of Loan Prospector Outreach we are helping counselors better serve their clients while at the same time helping them become a stronger sourcing channel for lenders,” McClung said.

To gauge a home buyer’s readiness, the housing counselor inputs the client’s data into Loan Prospector Outreach, reviews the client’s credit history, and considers the various financing and mortgage options.

Loan Prospector Outreach conducts a client assessment in minutes, returning either a “Ready to Apply” or “Continue Counseling” indication.

When the client is ready to apply, Loan Prospector Outreach provides the housing counselor with an automated way to transition the client’s information – with the client’s consent – to a participating lender. At that time, the lender is able to easily access the client’s data through LoanProspector.com in order to make a lending decision.

If a “continue counseling” message is received, additional feedback is provided to assist the housing counselor in developing an individualized program of continued counseling.

McClung said Freddie Mac is encouraging lenders to work closely with housing counselors to broaden their customer base by reaching more first-time home buyers, families in underserved communities and immigrants.

Housing counselors are the first point of contact for many first-time home buyers, including new immigrants and minorities, Freddie Mac said. The counselors work with more than 1 million individuals a year, according to Freddie Mac.

“We are helping housing counselors take the guesswork out of client assessments by giving them an objective tool that helps determine if their client is ready to apply for a mortgage or if they need to work on getting their financial situation in order,” said McClung. “Loan Prospector Outreach enables housing counselors to quickly identify the clients who most need their help.”

Freddie Mac is working with lenders across the country to make Loan Prospector Outreach available to the housing counselors with whom they work.

HSBC Mortgage Corp. (USA) recently trained on Loan Prospector Outreach. The company said the new tool would help it source more loans in underserved communities. HSBC is working with West Side Neighborhood Housing Services in Buffalo, N.Y.

“For HSBC Mortgage Corp. (USA), Loan Prospector Outreach is a win-win situation; promoting the dream of home ownership for our underserved neighborhoods while strengthening HSBC’s relationship with local community-based organizations across the state,” said James Ahrens, senior vice president, product management/marketing for HSBC, in a statement.

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