Homebuying season is one of my favorite times of the year. This is when we normally see housing activity rise, whether it’s from first–time homebuyers, move–up buyers or even homeowners who think it’s a good time to do some renovations. Wells Fargo is proud to sponsor important publications like this one that provide helpful information to those who are seeking the American dream of becoming a homeowner.
Owning a home is a sense of pride for many Americans and we celebrate the benefits that homeownership brings to our families and our communities. For African Americans in particular, homeownership is the primary vehicle to build generational wealth. Now may be a good time to buy for those who are ready. Wells Fargo economists report in their March 2019 Housing Chartbook that momentum in the housing sector has improved modestly this year. Mortgage rates have decreased slightly and there have been some favorable changes in housing prices. According to the Chartbook, the median price of a new home has fallen 3.8% over the past year.
Despite some improvements, housing inventory and affordability remain major hurdles to homeownership. In addition, many find it hard to save for a down payment and/or closing costs. African Americans face additional economic hurdles like higher levels of unemployment and underemployment that keep homeownership at bay.
What the mortgage industry, government officials and housing nonprofits must focus on is removing those barriers and helping to close homeownership gaps that exist in this country. Census Bureau data show that African Americans still have the lowest homeownership rate of all ethnic groups at 41%. According to the National Association of Real Estate Brokers’ (NAREB) State of Housing in Black America, the gains in homeownership that African Americans made before the recession have been lost.
Wells Fargo continues to make progress on the $60 billion African American homeownership commitment we announced in 2017,which commits to help at least 250,000 aspiring homeowners purchase a home in 10 years. So far, we have helped more than 42,000 African Americans become homeowners with $10.6 billion in financing and provided $4.7 million to support homebuyer education and counseling efforts.
While we are closer to our African American homeownership goals, there is a lot of work to do in this space. The work to increase African American homeownership will not be easy and cannot be done by one organization. It’s going to take the mortgage industry, government officials and housing advocates working together to help remove those barriers and ensure everyone has equal access to homeownership. At Wells Fargo, we are dedicated to working with others and doing everything we can to help boost the African American homeownership rate. It’s important to families, to communities and to the economy of this country.