Windermere Helps Launch Fund to Lower Barriers to Homeownership for Black/African American Buyers — RISMedia
DEI Vice President of Windermere Real Estate, Samantha Enos, has announced that the company has partnered with non-profit community development financial institution HomeSight on a new loan product to increase purchasing power and help close the affordability gap faced by black and African American shoppers.
“Sam Smith’s ‘Hi Neighbor’ Home Buyers’ Fund is designed to help low-to-moderate income homebuyers who have historically been underserved by traditional lenders,” Enos said, adding, “Thanks to grants from the Windermere Foundation, US Bank and JP Morgan Chase, the Sam Smith Fund helps reduce barriers to homeownership by funding loan products for Black/African American first-time buyers in the State of Washington.
Named after Washington state legislator Sam Smith, who championed the passage of the state’s Open Housing Act banning discrimination based on race and religion in 1967, Enos says Windermere and HomeSight hopes to be part of a solution that helps increase homeownership for Black/African Americans in Washington State.
According to a report by the National Association of REALTORS®, Black/African American homebuyers are more than twice as likely to be turned down for mortgages as white homebuyers. Nationwide, only 43% of Black/African Americans can afford to buy a home compared to 63% for Whites. In Seattle, the homeownership rate for Black/African Americans is 25.8% compared to 50.9% for white owners. While in King County, the median black household income is $48,075, about half the median white household income at $94,533.
Carl Smith, son of lawmaker Sam Smith, said, “It is an honor and a pleasure to have Sam Smith’s name used to seek equity in the purchase of a home,” Smith said, adding: “My grandfather instilled in my father that the way to have freedom is to have the land and for the people of that time it was freedom.
Since its launch in November 2021, Windermere has contributed $80,237 to the fund through donations from Windermere officers, offices and executives, including a personal donation of $50,000 from the Jacobi family to help fuel the fund.
Windermere co-chairman OB Jacobi said the goal was for Windermere to raise $250,000 a year. Darryl Smith, executive director of HomeSight, adds that the fund has already helped three families realize their dream of home ownership and there are currently four more families looking for a home.
HomeSight identifies borrowers who qualify for the Sam Smith Fund and awards up to $12,000 to use towards their home purchase costs. Loans can be layered on top of the buyer’s existing mortgages or work in conjunction with other HomeSight homebuyer assistance programs. Sam Smith Deferred Loans are repayable in thirty years, when the owner refinances or sells. Once the loans are repaid, HomeSight resolves the funds, ensuring availability for future borrowers.
Enos concluded by saying that the company is currently seeking lenders like HomeSight in other states where Windermere operates in hopes of expanding the program far beyond Washington State.