A California couple's first-time homebuying experience highlights the values of Naitonal Homeownership Month.

After 20 years of renting, they’re home at last

A California couple recently became first-time homebuyers after two decades as renters. Their experience highlights the values of National Homeownership Month.

June 15, 2017

Amid a steady flow of money pressures, Roberto and Mary Sandoval set their sights on making ends meet, socking away some savings, and raising their children to attend college. Buying a home seemed far out of reach for the factory shift foreman and his wife.

Earlier this year, however, the Sandovals ended their two decades of renting with the assistance of yourFirst MortgageSM, a Wells Fargo loan created to help first-time homebuyers and low-to-moderate income borrowers gain access to credit. They closed on their new home in late May.

“It’s a great feeling,” said Mary Sandoval, a stay-at-home mom in Davis, California. “My husband and I just kept asking each other, ‘Is this real?’ We never really felt like we would ever own a home.”

The Sandovals’ experience provides a backdrop for the spring homebuying season, which includes the observance of June as National Homeownership Month, established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The annual event focuses on the value of homeownership for individuals, communities, and the country.

“Through simplified, low down payment programs like yourFirst Mortgage,” said Franklin Codel, head of Wells Fargo’s Consumer Lending, “we’re helping more people achieve and sustain homeownership. And thanks to our ongoing focus on innovation, we are seeking to make it easier, simpler, and faster for our customers to interact with us.”

Since yourFirst Mortgage’s launch in May 2016, the company has approved nearly 30,000 home loans through the program at a cumulative value of more than $6.5 billion, according to the latest figures from Consumer Lending.

Codel said Wells Fargo launched the loan program in response to a market demand for a straightforward and easy-to-understand mortgages.

“We view homeownership as one of the most significant investments consumers can make for generational wealth and financial success,” he said. “yourFirst Mortgage is playing a significant role in advancing that.”

A California couple's first-time homebuying experience highlights the values of National Homeownership Month in June.
Mary and Roberto Sandoval found a path to homeownership after 20 years of renting.

Its simpler guidelines, conventional fixed rates, flexible credit, and down payments as low as three percent make yourFirst Mortgage particularly appealing to first-time homebuyers, said Brad Blackwell, head of Wells Fargo’s Housing Policy and Homeownership Growth Strategies.

More than half of the program’s customer base is comprised of first-time buyers — just one of the facts that has drawn positive reviews from the industry, he said.

In a relatively short time, said Gary Acosta, CEO of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, yourFirst Mortgage has made a strong impact in the market and has played a key role in advancing homeownership among Hispanics and other diverse populations.

“Clearly, it has made a difference,” he said. “I would say it has exceeded expectations as people have responded at a very rapid pace, which says a lot about Wells Fargo’s distribution capabilities.”

‘Invaluable’ homebuyer education

Another key element of the mortgage program is education, Codel said. Homebuyers who take an education course from a HUD-certified agency learn how to better manage their finances, prioritize their mortgage payment, and achieve sustainable homeownership.

“We applaud Wells Fargo for its support of homebuyer education. This is a milestone anniversary for yourFirst Mortgage,” said Marcia Griffin, president of HomeFree-USA, a nonprofit, HUD-approved homeownership guidance agency. “Homebuyer education is invaluable. It is the pathway to homeownership success. First-time homebuyers who receive homebuyer education and guidance, and the right mortgage product, are much more likely to be lifelong homeowners and much less likely to default.”

The Sandovals said they took the course after buying their house, but what they learned has still been invaluable for the first-time homeowners.

“We both said we wished we had taken it before we went through the (homebuying) process,” Mary Sandoval said. “It covers so many things, from checking your finances, to finding out what you can afford, to having a budget. We were both very thankful that we took it.”

She said the most important help they received as they bought their first home, though, came from the Wells Fargo mortgage team — Angie Mata and Susan Spann, home mortgage consultants who guided them through the process.

“We never thought we were alone or on our own,” she said. “And that made an incredible difference for us.”

Contributors: Larry Strong
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