by Lew Sichelman
Two years after pledging to purchase up to $100 million in mortgages generated by real estate professionals of Latino descent, Fannie Mae has upped the ante.
In another pact with the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, Fannie Mae has said it will buy at least 25,000 mortgages made to first-time home buyers and generated by NAHREP's 12,000 members nationwide.
The promise, made at NAHREP's annual marketing conclave last week in Denver, came from Vice Chair Dan Mudd, who said the agreement "builds upon the terrific work we've already done together."
Fannie Mae, which exceeded its original three-year goal early, has purchased $141.9 million in mortgages originated by NAHREP members to date. Nearly half were loans to minority families.
Meanwhile, in California, Freddie Mac, in conjunction with NAHREP and the California Association of Realtors, has launched an initiative designed to increase the number of Hispanic homeowners in the state.
The program, a coordinated effort which also includes Chase Home Finance, the League of United Latin American Citizens and the California Housing Finance Agency, has two purposes -- to increase the realty community's understanding of how to reach and serve the Latino home buyer, and to help Latinos learn about home-buyer assistance programs that are offered through city, county and state housing agencies.
Although Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac don't make loans directly to consumers, they are key players in the mortgage market because they act as conduits to keep the money flowing back and forth between local lenders and investors throughout the world. And their focus on Hispanics should benefit those who are trying to serve what is still a largely underserved sector. l
According to Uncle Sam's latest figures, there is a significant gap between minority (48 percent) and white (74 percent) ownership rates. In California alone, only 43 percent of the Latino population are homeowners.
Moreover, recent Freddie Mac research indicates that only one half of the gap between minorities and whites can be explained by income, age of household and other known demographic factors. Indeed, 50 percent of Latinos still believe they need near perfect credit to obtain a mortgage, while 40 percent believe they need a 20 percent downpayment.
At the same time, the Census Bureau projects that during this decade, 80 percent of the county's population growth will come from minority groups, largely Hispanics. As a result, minorities and immigrants are fueling the growth in the mortgage market and will comprise more than 45 percent of first-time home buyers by the end of 2010.
Under their new agreement, Fannie Mae and NAHREP will work together to build the capacity of NAHREP realty and lender partners to increase loan originations in designated underserved communities, providing technical assistance, innovative mortgage products, technology and marketing research.
Fannie Mae also is providing support to NAHREP to hire an intern or staffer to facilitate the goals of their joint outreach initiative.
NAHREP is a nonprofit trade association founded in 1999 and committed to increasing the Hispanic homeownership rate by empowering real estate professionals that serve Hispanic consumers.
A major component of the effort to boost Latino ownership in California is a new course developed by Freddie Mac and Chase Home Finance. It will be offered through CAR and NAHREP to educate real estate professionals on how to better serve the Latino homebuyer.
The curriculum has been approved by the California Department of Real Estate for two units of continuing education credit required of real estate agents and brokers who are licensed in the Golden State, and provides strategies for reaching and communicating with the Latino homebuyer as well as information on homeownership assistance programs available in the state.
The first class was conducted during CAR's recent annual trade show. Headquartered in Los Angeles, the 150,000-member group is the largest state affiliate of the National Association of Realtors.
As part of the endeavor, the state housing agency is offering downpayment assistance to qualified borrowers and as well as mortgage insurance. In addition, the LULAC will reach out to potential Latino buyers through workshops and homeownership fairs. The workshops will provide prospects with information about the buying process, including how to access state and local downpayment assistance programs.
"We are excited that these industry leaders are working collaboratively to address key barriers to ownership and to help more Latino families achieve the dream of homeownership," said Craig Nickerson, vice president of expanding markets for Freddie Mac. "Central to the initiative is the recognition of the challenges to homeownership Latino families often face, including language and cultural barriers, nontraditional credit, and a lack of experience with the home-buying process."
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