Housing Opportunity Certification

Originally called Workforce Housing Certification (WHC), this program was renamed to avoid some of the unfortunate stigma attached to the term "affordable housing." In some circles, affordable housing is equated to public or subsidized housing. Although voucher programs are important in discussions about housing options, this REALTOR® education focuses on first-time and middle income buyers. Maryland REALTORS® Housing Affordability and Equal Opportunity Committee found that the term workforce housing was still confusing for some, and undertook the task of evaluating and improving the program. Now, through an expanded partnership with the State of Maryland, Housing Opportunity Certified REALTORS® will have more exposure to consumers through the Maryland Mortgage Program website, and through our own consumer website at www.marylandhomeownership.com.


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 can learn about them. Develop your knowledge and expertise to serve this important and growing market by taking the steps to become HOC.

Housing Opportunity Certified (HOC) 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:

FEDERAL PROGRAMS AND NATIONAL INITIATIVES (Course #957-1604, 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.

STATE AND LOCAL PROGRAMS (Course #956-1604, 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. Course includes overview of Maryland REALTORS® consumer website www.maryland homeownership.com.

MARYLAND MORTGAGE PROGRAM & MARYLAND HOMECREDIT PROGRAM (Course #959-1604, 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:

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.

NAR’s Employer-Assisted Housing, Expanding Housing Opportunities, or At Home With Diversity®. See http://www.realtor.org/education

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 until December 31 of the following year. To stay certified, you must complete the Maryland Mortgage Program class and another HOC course within the second year.

Interested in having a class in your area? Ask your local board/association to host a class series.

For more information, please reach out to the Education Department of Maryland Realtors.