Putting homeownership within reach for a diverse workforce

September 07, 2022

U.S. Bank shares ways to close the home ownership gap and support homebuying.

 

For more than two thirds of Americans, owning a home is a key step toward stability and building wealth. A home is a legacy that can be passed on through generations. But for many diverse segments, buying a home may seem impossible. A significant gap exists in home ownership rates between white Americans and Black, Hispanic and Asian Americans.

As corporations seek to diversify their workforce, employers can take time to understand the situation and consider opportunities to support their employees in their efforts to become homeowners.

 

Bridging the gap in homeownership

Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying economic headwinds, the increase in the overall U.S. homeownership rate was an encouraging statistic in 2020. However, there continues to be a significant racial homeownership gap in America.

The differences are stark: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in December of 2019, white homeownership was at a nine-year high while the Black homeownership rate was more than 20 percentage points behind the overall homeownership rate, and 30 percentage points behind the white homeownership rate. This gap is actually larger than it was in 1960 when housing discrimination was legal. The Asian and Hispanic homeownership rates also significantly lagged behind the white homeownership rate.

This gap in homeownership is concerning because owning a home has been proven to provide a multitude of benefits for individuals, families and communities. It can also lead to job stability. Homeownership is known to be a leading factor in building generational wealth for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Forced savings: Monthly mortgage payments represent forced savings with homeowners building equity by paying down the principal on their loan.
  • Building wealth: Homes often appreciate in value over time, helping homeowners build wealth.
  • Tax benefits: There may be tax benefits for homeowners with deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes.
  • Fixed payments: Mortgage rates are typically fixed, providing homeowners with fixed costs each month.
     

Housing data on homeownership rates and the impact on household net worth indicate that one of the best ways for a family to build wealth is through homeownership. Data from the Federal Reserve indicates that the net worth of a homeowner is more than 40 times greater than that of a renter.

 

Supporting the homeownership goals of a more diverse workforce

Organizations can begin to support initiatives to close the homeownership gap for their employees and communities. Sustainable homeownership, the ability to buy and maintain a home, has a pivotal role in that process and offers the greatest opportunity to build wealth for families across the U.S.

“Employers have the opportunity to give individuals the pathway to help the dreams of homeownership come true,” says Lenny McNeill, EVP, National Strategic Markets, Consumer Lending, U.S. Bank. “The result of supporting the homeownership journey is more diverse staffing representing the communities we serve. This can lead to more future homeowners of all races and ethnicities and ultimately a positive impact on schools, retail businesses and the neighborhoods we call home.”

For some companies, the path to supporting and growing homeownership may not be as clear. How can organizations begin to aid an increasingly diverse workforce and work to close the homeownership gap?

 

Actionable steps employers can take

There are a variety of ways organizations can help employees realize homeownership is possible and reach their homebuying goals. Partner with realtors and mortgage suppliers who will provide homebuying and financial education along with discounted services for employees. Many mortgage lenders and real estate agencies will offer no-cost benefit programs for employees and will post a link on the company intranet site and include information in internal communications alerting of the programs available to them. Some benefits for employees may include:

  • Discounted real estate commissions and discounted mortgage closing costs plus many programs to benefit first-time homebuyers.
  • Educational resources online and in person with topics relevant to first-time homebuyers, veterans, refinancing, buying rental properties, improving your credit score, etc.
    • “Lunch and learn” seminars and after-work forums 
    • Web based seminars and forums
    • Websites with terminology, articles, videos and mortgage calculators
       

Also, employers can provide contact information for local and state sponsored services that provide education on improving credit scores, reducing debt and other ways to prepare for the goal of homeownership.

  • Use internal communications, including intranet sites, to highlight mortgage lenders that are providing discounts and offers.
  • Ensure mortgage lenders can provide dedicated support and resources to first-time homebuyers.
  • Work with real estate agents and lenders who have a diverse staff and provide material translated into the languages employees speak.

 

Consider how relocation can provide a unique opportunity for first-time homebuyers

  • Offer renters closing cost benefits to encourage homeownership
  • Ensure preferred relocation mortgage lender(s) and real estate agents have programs specifically for first-time homebuyers and offer discounts to help with affordability. 
  • Provide transferees with access to a website to research and engage vetted relocation-specific service providers.
     

The data and facts about the homeownership gap are eye-opening. But the good news is that employers can do something about it. Realizing the opportunity that is available to a diverse workforce and supporting employees’ homebuying goals are steps that organizations can take toward a more equitable and sustainable future for everyone.

 

Read more about how homebuying and mobility trends impact employees and connect with corporate relocation experts and home lending specialists.

 

 

U.S. Bank is not affiliated with the organizations mentioned in this publication unless otherwise noted.

This information is for real estate information only. This information is not a consumer credit advertisement as defined by Regulation Z. The information provided represents the opinion of U.S. Bank and is not intended to be a forecast of future events or guarantee of future results. U.S. Bank and their representatives do not provide tax or legal advice. Your tax and financial situation is unique. You should consult your tax and/or legal advisor for advice and information concerning your particular situation.

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Loan approval is subject to credit approval and program guidelines. Not all loan programs are available in all states for all loan amounts. Interest rates and program terms are subject to change without notice. Mortgage, home equity and credit products are offered by U.S. Bank National Association. Deposit products are offered by U.S. Bank National Association. Member FDIC.