Building upon their history of responsible lending, Wells Fargo & Company recently launched a new home loan program that will enable more first-time homebuyers and low- to moderate-income consumers to achieve one of the pinnacles of the American dream – homeownership.

The program, “yourFirst MortgageSM,” offers a down payment as low as 3 percent for fixed-rate mortgages, lower out-of-pocket costs, expanded credit criteria and incentives for homebuyer education.

One company executive describes the new program as “a game changer in the industry.”

“It removes a lot of the complexity in the loan application process that often causes consumers to continue renting instead of believing that they can become homeowners,” said Cerita Battles, senior vice president and Diverse Segments national sales manager, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.

“Sometimes the criteria for loan programs are so complex that it actually creates barriers for many qualified borrowers,” Battles said. “Homebuyer education is important in helping consumers make informed choices and we are encouraging that by offering an educational and counseling component that, if completed, allows borrowers to lower the rate on their loan by 1/8 of a percent.. ”

Battles said initiatives like yourFirst MortgageSM can make the dream of homeownership real for more people, helping to provide access to credit– something that has tended to elude many Blacks and others who have never owned a home.

“Wells Fargo is strategically well-positioned to expand sustainable homeownership with a focus on four key pillars: making sure we mirror the markets that we serve by increasing diversity among our salesforce; establishing a greater presence in the marketplace both online and with bricks and mortar so that consumers have easier access to information and services; partnering with our key referral sources – those in the community like nonprofit educational providers, unions, the NAACP and the National Urban League to assist their constituencies who desire to become homeowners; and expanding access to credit with products and programs and processes to enable sustainable homeownership.”

Battles acknowledged that Wells Fargo has a ways to go in order to reach parity with the mortgage industry where about 46 percent of homebuyers in the first quarter of 2016 were first-time homeowners, adding that she believes they’ll be able to reach and serve more consumers through this new program..

“We’re determined to open up the credit box for those who may have heard about similar home loan programs but felt that they’d never qualify,” she said. “Our program offers additional income and credit guidelines that can put a consumer that much closer to owning their own home.”

Brad Blackwell, executive vice president, Well Fargo Home Lending, agrees that the new program provides access to credit while maintaining responsible lending practices.

“We’ve partnered with credit experts such as Fannie Mae and Self-Help, an affiliate of the Center for Responsible Lending, to develop an easy-to-understand affordable loan option that gives homebuyers the best offering in the market,” he said in a press release.

And with the goal of expanding sustainable homeownership, yourFirst MortgageSM provides fair mortgages to qualified working families which ultimately benefits neighborhoods and local communities.

In summary, yourFirst MortgageSM serves as a tool for those desiring to purchase their own home because it lowers down payment and out-of-pocket costs, encourages buyers to make informed choices, offers additional income and credit guidelines and builds on Wells Fargo’s history of responsible lending.

The new initiative joins Wells Fargo’s existing suite of homebuyer services such as yourLoanTrackerSM, yourHome Matters and My FirstHome®, an interactive online program designed to help first-time homebuyers prepare to purchase a home and become responsible homeowners.

Franklin Codel, head of Wells Fargo Home Lending, explained the purpose behind the creation of yourFirst Mortgage.

“With the industry’s largest team of mortgage experts, yourFirst MortgageSM responsibly expands access to credit with trusted guidance from America’s largest home lender,” Codel said in a press release.

“We developed yourFirst MortgageSM to serve the broad population of qualified first-time homebuyers, including the low- to moderate-income customers and the diverse millennial population which is more than 2/3 of first-time homebuyers today. This is good for our customers and benefits the economy by building stronger communities through sustainable homeownership,” Codel added.

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