Kristy Fercho on Increasing Black Homeownership
Over this past year, home has never been more important. Safe, affordable housing has long been one of the most common aspirations for all Americans, and the principal way most families build wealth in this country. Yet obtaining this goal remains more difficult for people of color.
The racial homeownership gap is as large today as it was during the days of segregation, with the white homeownership rate roughly 30 points higher than Black households. New Urban Institute analysis shows that the gap may continue to grow absent intentional action. This has lasting implications: when one generation misses the wealth-building opportunities of homeownership, successive generations feel the impact as well. For me, this is personal. As a Black woman and the Head of Wells Fargo Home Lending, I am passionate about growing Black homeownership and providing access for those shut out of the American dream.
I’m proud to have a leadership role at Wells Fargo as we take action to increase Black homeownership. We’re doing this by incorporating low-down payment financing options and closing cost credits available through offerings like our new Dream. Plan. Home.℠. programs; diverse, in-market sales teams ready to provide access and support; collaboration with non-profits that understand local markets and more. These efforts are part of our $60 billion commitment to growing Black homeownership. Wells Fargo is also investing $50 million in Minority Depository Institutions to empower diverse communities.
Housing stakeholders must work together to close this gap, bringing unity to this urgent moment, and I have seen firsthand the great work underway not just by lenders, but also advocates, and policymakers. In addition to my role at Wells Fargo, I’m also the chair-elect of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) board of directors and the leader of the affordable homeownership working group for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s Project REACh, which promotes financial inclusion through greater access to credit and capital.
For the MBA, one of our goals is to drastically increase affordable homeownership in the next two years by working with member companies and policymakers to take action now. As the Biden administration takes shape, our mission is to drive consideration of policy actions focused on housing, such as first-time homebuyer credits and FHA reforms.
Project REACh convenes stakeholders from government, financial institutions, nonprofits and more to tackle the structural barriers that have contributed to the racial homeownership gap. Removing these barriers to financial inclusion will help millions of people, previously left out of the system, gain access to more opportunities for themselves and their families.
Even as we work together to address barriers to homeownership, there are steps potential homebuyers can take to ensure they are best positioned to reach their goals.
- Build your savings: trim unnecessary expenses and reduce any outstanding debts.
- Find a qualified lender: compare different lenders and their loan offerings to find the right fit.
- Do your homework: learn about your property value and equity, mortgage payments, first-time homebuyer programs and down payment assistance.
- Know your borrowing power: get pre-qualified or pre-approval to find homes that fit your budget.
We all have a role to play, and while none of us can break down these barriers alone, if we are united in our pursuit, we can make a huge impact together.
For Wells Fargo’s homeownership resources, visit: myfirsthome.wf.com