Kim Arrington, Branch Manager of the New American Funding metro Atlanta office, joins the Atlanta Real Estate Forum podcast to discuss educating homebuyers on being mortgage ready and new diversity initiatives, highlighting the New American Dream Initiative. She joins hosts Carol Morgan and Todd Schnick for the All About Real Estate segment.
Arrington has a great passion for helping homeowners find an affordable path forward, but lately, she’s been asking how can New American Funding assist minority buyers. This past year, NAF placed great emphasis on financial literacy, holding workshops on budgeting and how to plan and become mortgage-ready. The main goal is to make sure homebuyers are spending their money wisely while becoming more credit-ready to handle purchasing a home to ensure sustainability in the home.
There are 3.4 million mortgage-ready individuals in the United States who are not purchasing a property because they don’t know the next appropriate step. Helping college graduates, for example, understand the power of their diploma and work history is especially important.
“The pandemic was a great experience to go through and say, ‘Were we doing a good job with that? How many of our minority borrowers suffered and needed assistance to maintain the home or even experienced an early payment default or foreclosure?” said Arrington when discussing opportunities for diversity growth at New American Funding.
Through new initiatives, New American Funding has seen a lot of success in making sure consumers are educated. Taking in-house programs about down payment assistance and layering them with a homebuyer education piece is successful and has the added flexibility of learning at home or online for convenience. The essential point is ensuring borrowers understand payment, budgeting, what to do after buying a home and how to remit and stay on track with payments.
The next part of the initiative is to look at communities. Recently, New American Funding was invited to Henry County to speak about financial literacy and home affordability options. From that experience, it was decided that offering more ongoing financial literacy courses at their facility in Henry County would be very beneficial.
“If we can be planted and continue to educate a group in one community at a time, we’re empowering them.” Said Arrington.
There are many aspects of a home buying experience, such as banking principles, that people may not know if they are a person of color. Often, minority buyers come to a lender with a chime card or reveal they are not using a bank for their finances. It is common for minorities to use popular celebrity business cards to track their finances instead of using more traditional avenues.
To a lender or originator who is not savvy to the intricate aspects and experiences of being a person of color, they might receive an application and immediately develop an unaware bias that a minority borrower cannot afford during this process.
Arrington commented, “My job as a lender that is a part of that community is to have that conversation.”
A lending officer wants to understand how a borrower spends their money and that there are no outstanding bills on a credit report to ensure they can afford to make the mortgage payment. The conversation is different with non-minority buyers because they have easier access to financial literacy education. Having a conversation that resonates with the consumer to help them be successful in accomplishing their goal of homeownership is key.
New American Funding also has very positive relationships with home builders and a high number of people who come out of the builder communities are people of color. Consumer surveys question what the experience and going process was like and the responses in the past year revealed how all experiences were not 100% pleasant due to many not understanding the process. Revealing this on the back end showed weaknesses and a great need to better arm buyers.
There are currently many diversity and inclusivity initiatives in the country as companies realize how essential it is to educate their staff on communication with minority consumers. This training forces them to listen and better understand the process to make the experience better for those consumers. If a consumer doesn’t know the right question to ask, they won’t receive the answer they need.
New American Funding focuses its customer experience on areas where there are opportunities to build more confidence. A current initiative is to teach financial literacy in schools. The goal is to sit down and educate young homebuyers on budgeting, how to be mortgage ready and the journey from renting to getting pre-approved for their dream home. This education process has proved very successful in the past, teaching young homebuyers how to be easily engaged in the process versus intimidated due to lack of knowledge.
“We make the commitment to be with you from contract to close, but we’re there afterward. That’s what makes me proud going into my sixth year here and to still be on this platform,” said Arrington.
The lessons learned and the discipline taught impact a homebuyer’s life beyond the home. When a homebuyer educates themselves on the process, they can better own the mortgage payment, the interest rate and anything else thrown at them.
The end goal of the New American Dream Initiative is to look at every community in the southeast and know that New American Funding showed up for each one and brought about change. Empowering communities through a holistic approach and building a better community together is the key to community.
Georgia Residential Mortgage Licensee, License #22564. NMLS ID #6606. Subject to borrower and property qualifications. Not all applicants will qualify. Click here to view the terms and conditions of products mentioned during the show. Corporate office 14511 Myford Rd., Suite 100, Tustin, CA 92780. Phone: (800) 450-2010. (August/2021)
New American Funding is a family-owned mortgage lender with a servicing portfolio of over 123,000 loans for $30.4 billion, 198 branches, and about 3,100 employees. The company offers several niche loan products and has made Inc. 5000’s list of Fastest-Growing Companies in America six times. It has a state-of-the-art career training facility and develops innovative technology, including the GoGo LO mobile application. For more information, visit www.branch.newamericanfunding.com/Atlanta.
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