The desire for homeownership in America remains high. In a 2017 NeighborWorks America survey, 93 percent of respondents said homeownership is important, very important or the most important. Homeownership is important to our economy, our families and our communities and a key vehicle for wealth accumulation. Census data cited in the 2017 National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB) State of Housing in Black America report says that 69 percent of an American household’s net worth is attributable to the net equity in their home.
Becoming a homeowner is an exciting journey, and preparation is a key to success. Homebuyer education and counseling agencies are important resources to help aspiring homeowners prepare for and navigate the home-buying process to become sustainable homeowners. Through education and understanding of what to expect, homebuyers can get in a home and be successful homeowners over their lifetime.
Homebuyer counseling offers one-on-one sessions with a HUD-approved counselor who tailors interactions to the prospective homebuyer’s situation and homeownership needs. Counseling helps prospective homebuyers gain confidence and information needed to take the next step toward buying a home with activities that include budgeting, identifying credit challenges and guidance to improve their credit score, debt reduction strategies and helping to determine affordability based on income and debt. Counseling also helps to dispel common myths about obtaining a mortgage loan, like “a 20 percent down payment is required to own a home.” That is not true and holds many homebuyers back from making the step forward and actually applying for a mortgage.
Homebuyer education focuses on the basic concepts of homeownership but is not specific to a transaction. Also provided by a HUD-approved agency, topics covered in these classes include the homebuying process, how to maintain a home and the importance of good credit. Homebuyer education classes can be helpful for aspiring homeowners who have been approved for a loan but need information on better understanding the process to achieve and sustain homeownership.
At Wells Fargo we believe in the value homebuyer education and counseling can bring to those seeking homeownership. It’s a significant component of our $60 billion lending commitment to increase African-American homeownership by 2027. In the commitment we pledged to dedicate $15 million to support initiatives for homebuyer education and counseling for African-American families. In our first year, we have provided more than $1.8 million toward this goal in the first year.
Wells Fargo also collaborates with a number of agencies to bring homebuyer education and counseling into communities across the country. Here in Washington, D.C., Wells Fargo has been a sponsor of the DC Housing Expo hosted by DC Housing and Community Development and the Greater Washington Urban League for the past eight years. Homebuyer education is a requirement of the NeighborhoodLIFT program, a national collaboration between Wells Fargo and NeighborWorks America that also provides down payment assistance grants.
It’s important to us at Wells Fargo that our customers are successful homeowners. And we believe that homebuyer education and counseling should be components of the homeownership journey, especially for first-time homebuyers.