Norma at her new home in Winter Park, Florida.

Hispanic homeowner finally hears ‘Yes’

Latinos who wish to become homeowners have a new path — made possible by a $125 billion home lending commitment (and other support) from Wells Fargo over the next 10 years.

October 15, 2015

Retired and divorced, Norma Calder decided she’d try to refinance her mortgage to save some money a few months ago. But her bank at that time turned her down. She kept trying, however, and soon she was sitting across from Wells Fargo Mortgage Consultant Rich Henry.

“She couldn’t understand why she was turned down, and after looking at her finances, I couldn’t understand it either,” Rich says. “We worked with her, and we made it happen. She couldn’t have been happier.”

With Rich’s help, Norma saved $745 a month by combining her existing debt into a single refinance loan — enough to help support her retirement years, and enable her to help her youngest son, who just entered medical school.

“There was a lot of back and forth with the paperwork and all, but I was amazed at how well it went, and I appreciated it so much,” says Norma, a retired accountant and small business owner in Winter Park, Florida. “I now have all my banking with Wells Fargo — my checking, savings, and my mortgage.”

Another customer, Anely Cavada in Melrose Park, Illinois, had a similarly positive experience. Working with Mortgage Consultant Dwight Marroquin — who focuses the majority of his efforts on helping Hispanics achieve the dream of homeownership — Anely was able to purchase a new home in a reasonably short time.

“The credit market is difficult,” Anely says. “However, Dwight and his team did an excellent job explaining the reasons behind what was being requested and simplifying the process tremendously. Dwight and his team made me feel like I was their only customer. I thank all of them for the excellent job that they did with my financing.”

Expanding outreach

Homebuyers like Anely represent the impetus for Wells Fargo’s plan to expand its outreach and boost homeownership in the Latino community, says Brad Blackwell, head of mortgage portfolio lending for Home Mortgage. He cited the company’s unprecedented commitment of $125 billion over the next 10 years to provide home loans for Hispanic homebuyers; an additional $10 million will go toward homebuyer counseling and education.

The action on Sept. 15 came as part of Hispanic Heritage Month, which concludes Oct. 15.

Wells Fargo announced the plan in support of the Hispanic Wealth Project, an initiative of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals. The organization aims to triple Hispanic household wealth over the next decade by focusing on homeownership, personal savings, and small business success.

“As the nation’s leading home mortgage lender to racially and ethnically diverse homebuyers, including Hispanics, we support the association in this important mission,” Brad says. “We want to demonstrate our efforts to do more to increase homeownership to these communities.”

Wells Fargo has a unique opportunity to boost Latino homeownership, which typically lags the general population, says Cerita Battles, head of Diverse Segments for Wells Fargo Home Lending.

“We want to seize the opportunity to help address challenges in income and credit policies; provide access to homebuyer education and counseling; and to increase consumer confidence among minorities regarding the homebuying process,” she says.

The goals of the Hispanic Wealth Project, Cerita adds, align with many programs and initiatives already offered by Wells Fargo, including:

  • A four-point plan by Wells Fargo Works for Small BusinessSM to help diverse-owned small businesses become credit-ready and obtain financing.
  • More than $3.6 million donated to the Hispanic Scholarship Funds to support 1,230 scholarships since 2003 — most in the banking industry.
  • Outreach by Education Financial Services to support Hispanic students in higher education through programs like CollegeSTEPS® and Go College! Now.

“Wells Fargo is committed to helping Latinos build financial wealth and accomplish their dreams for their families and our communities,” says Mariela Ure, head of Hispanic Segment Strategy at Wells Fargo.

I’m telling everyone in my family

Since moving to Florida from Puerto Rico decades ago, Norma has done well financially, initially working as an accountant, then starting her own small business — a woman’s clothing consignment store — which she sold more than 10 years ago.

Now, her new relationship with Wells Fargo gives her the opportunity to save more and better manage her retirement years, she says.

“I have to say the bank has been so good to me and it has worked out so well, I’m telling everyone in my family about it,” she says.

Hispanic homebuying has surged in recent years as the Latino population has increased in central Florida, says Rich. Once you win a Latino customer, they’ll often bring other family members along with them because of the strong family culture, he says.

For example, another client, Yaritza Guzman, recently closed a refinance loan with Wells Fargo. She came to Rich by referral from her brother, and subsequently referred her mother, who has now acquired two homes with financing from Wells Fargo.

The whole process couldn’t have gone smoother, says Yaritza, a medical assistant. “I didn’t know what to expect, but it was really good, very efficient, and very well explained,” she says. “It left me with a great feeling about the whole experience.”

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