Nota del editor: También está disponible una versión en español de esta historia.
At the last stop of a long, frustrating day, Maria Sanchez lugged a box full of her financial documents into a Wells Fargo branch and asked for help. She’d gone to several other banks that day trying to save her home from foreclosure, but she was turned away each time.
“I thought this might be my last chance,” said Sanchez, 50, a central services and lab technician and single mom who works for two hospital surgery centers in suburban Los Angeles. “I was just looking for some hope, but nobody at the other banks would really listen to me about my situation.”
Then she met Angelica Vasquez, a Wells Fargo home mortgage consultant, who did listen. Sanchez told of how a difficult divorce had left her with a mound of unpaid bills, heavily in debt, maxed out on credit cards, with poor credit, and delinquent on her mortgage. She also had legal bills related to tenant problems at a rental property she owned.
Despite those challenges, Vasquez came up with a plan for Sanchez to refinance her mortgage, re-arrange her finances, pay down her debt, increase her savings, and restore her credit. Sanchez fiercely embraced the plan, step by step, Vasquez recalled.
In just over a year, she completed a remarkable turnaround, paying off much of her debt, raising her credit score 200 points, and refinancing her mortgage again to raise cash to acquire more rental properties.
“She is truly an amazing woman,” Vasquez said. “She has worked so hard to get where she is now. She deserves all the credit in the world for what she has accomplished.”
Sanchez’ experience embodies Wells Fargo’s long-running emphasis on supporting Hispanic homeownership and wealth creation, company officials said. Wells Fargo formalized its commitment several years ago by setting a 10-year goal of $125 billion for home lending and wealth formation and $10 million for homebuyer education and counseling in the Hispanic community.
Wells Fargo set the goal in conjunction with the Hispanic Wealth Project, a nonprofit founded by the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals to promote increased homeownership, access to investment advice, and other means of wealth creation for Hispanic households.
Wells Fargo has energized its home mortgage consultants to drive the initiative nationwide, said Cerita Battles, head of Wells Fargo National Diverse Segments. Since early 2016, the company has helped more than 87,000 Hispanic families become homeowners and provided nearly $3 million in financial education and counseling to Hispanic households, she said.
And those figures don’t include the home preservation work that it has provided across the U.S. to customers like Sanchez to help them keep their homes, regain their financial health, and expand their wealth-producing assets, Battles said.
“We feel we are well-positioned to meet the home-financing needs of Hispanic customers, wherever they are in their financial lives,” she said. “It is imperative for Wells Fargo both now and in the future to be there for the fast-growing Hispanic community as its purchasing power, homebuying, investing, and demand for other financial services accelerates.”
Hispanic homebuying has already become one of the most powerful engines in the U.S. housing market, according to the Hispanic Wealth Project 2018 Annual Report (PDF). Citing government data, the report said Hispanics have driven 46.5 percent of the net U.S. homeownership gains since 2000 — and are expected to continue to drive growth for the foreseeable future.
“Just as Hispanics have been the primary driver of U.S. homeownership gains over the past two decades,” the report stated, “homeownership has been the primary driver of Hispanic wealth creation and remains the linchpin in a wealth generation strategy.”
For Sanchez, the Wells Fargo customer, homeownership has driven her efforts to secure a financial future for her and her children. It also represents the opportunity she had hoped for when she emigrated to the U.S. more than 30 years ago from Mexico. And it is why she worked so hard to save her home from foreclosure in 2016, she said.
“My hope was to come to this country to have a better life,” she said. “I was 18 years old and I saw a lot of opportunity here that we didn’t have (in Mexico). I wanted to take advantage of it, to be educated, and become a business lady.”
Sanchez went on to get her education and training to be a central services technician and lab technician at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center and Whittier Community Hospital. Five years ago, she fulfilled her ambition to become a businesswoman, acquiring the first of three rental properties, which she manages to this day.
She credits Vasquez, the Wells Fargo home mortgage consultant, for helping her continue to pursue her dreams.
“Angie really opened the door for me,” she said. “She was honest with me. She told me it would be tough work to fix things, but gave me hope that I could do it. Now look at me today. And I’m not going to stop now; I want to get a better house and help my children succeed. I thank Angie, who’s always told me exactly what I need to do to get things done.”