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Minority homeownership has been a trending topic in the mortgage industry for some time now. Two factors play a large role in this: wealth inequality and intergenerational wealth. These topics rise to the top because it is generally believed that improving homeownership rates will help to reduce wealth inequality between racial groups and grow intergenerational wealth within marginalized communities. These topics, among others, are discussed in the article 60% Black Homeownership: A Radical Goal For Black Wealth Development (National Community Reinvestment Coalition [NCRC]). Some solutions can be found—or are suggested at—in this article that can empower lenders and realtors to increase homeownership among minorities.

Per the NCRC’s data, Black American homeownership currently sits at about 42%, which is the lowest homeownership rate among the racial groups that the NCRC collected data on (the others beings White Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanic/Latino Americans). The NCRC traces part of the cause for this disparity directly back to historic social and legal racism; for example, “redlining” policies that came about when the federal government established the Home Owners Loan Corporation. Unfortunately, the echoes of these actions over the decades, despite efforts to correct course and overall improvements in Black American homeownership rates, have resulted in a large disparity between Black homeownership and the homeownership rates of other racial groups. This reduces Black American access to intergenerational wealth and other wealth-building opportunities centered around homeownership. While Black American homeownership rates are slowly rising, more could be done to help Black Americans reap the same benefits as other racial groups.

Two solutions that the NCRC called for are “programs that assist with down payments and credit repair,” pointing out that there are many who don’t currently qualify for a home but could be mortgage-ready soon. Fortunately, down payment assistance programs have been on the rise (and growing in popularity) in recent years, with tens of thousands of borrowers assisted into becoming homeowners each year as a result. This is the perfect solution for borrowers who can afford a monthly mortgage payment but don’t necessarily have the immediate funds to afford a minimum down payment. The use of a DPA program may be preceded by a credit repair program to help ensure a borrower may qualify for DPA.

Lenders and realtors can help with this situation, simultaneously servicing their fellow Americans while accessing more clients, by digging in deep to the programs available to them locally and nationally, becoming very familiar with program requirements and qualifications, and using these programs in advertising efforts. As one example for DPA, consider Chenoa Fund, a down payment assistance program offered in every state (except for New York) for FHA loans. Borrowers may qualify for Chenoa Fund assistance with a credit score as low as 600 and a DTI ratio that meets AUS requirements. Most lenders and realtors have met many borrowers who had a mortgage deal fall through because a borrower can’t quite afford the down payment or closing costs using their funds alone; having Chenoa Fund in your back pocket can help you save these deals and prove that homeownership is an option for other borrowers who otherwise thought they would never be able to own a home. Even one deal saved for one family can make a world of difference across a lifetime—and future generations.

Beyond that, credit and (knowledge) can be improved by investing in borrower education as well—many would-be borrowers don’t know about the basics of credit or mortgages, which creates a real barrier to homeownership. Reach out to local churches or community centers to find opportunities to speak to potential homeowners, or find charitable organizations to combine efforts with. Two national initiatives are UHOUSI and Kani Urban Indian Housing Initiative, both of which focus on growing minority homeownership through education and access to financial assistance.

Disclaimer: The above article by the NCRC is used for data and discussion about down payment assistance. CBCMA is not endorsing or rebutting the NCRC, this article, or any action points within this article.

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