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Mayors roundtable discusses homeownership gap

This is an exciting time for affordable housing in Minnesota. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has made affordable housing his top priority, and the Governor’s Task Force on Housing has brought renewed attention and resources to the issue. Minnesota Homeownership Center has been involved in shaping the affordable housing conversation in Minnesota and emphasizing the importance in addressing the homeownership gap. We’ve also added a new link to our website that will take consumers directly to the information they need most as they take their first steps toward homeownership.

Mayor Frey’s Affordable Homeownership Roundtable

Our Executive Director Julie Gugin was recently invited to Mayor Frey’s Affordable Homeownership Roundtable to speak about the important role homeownership plays in building assets for households of color. She explained how addressing the homeownership gap will help create wealth for those households for generations to come.

The key points Julie stressed at the roundtable are:

  • Some down payment assistance programs may pose challenges for consumers, particularly if they are used in combination with other programs. Opportunities: 1) remove the stigma and confusion borrowers experience when faced with using multiple programs; 2) help ensure lower income households can compete equitably in a constrained homeownership market; 3) address reluctance from some REALTORS® and lenders to work with DPA products. The Center recommends down payment programs be pre-approved for a specific period and offer higher amounts to help eliminate the layering of multiple products that is required today.
  • Acceptance of alternative forms of credit needs to be standardized. Rental history, in particular, should be a more universally accepted form of payment history. Furthermore, an underwriting model similar to that of Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, which looks at employment stability differently than the broader industry, would be helpful.
  • The Center continues to advocate for additional funding of homeownership programs like financial wellness and homeownership education, as well as development dollars to address the lack of inventory.


Homeownership Navigator

We all know how complicated buying a home can be, especially for first-time buyers. So we’ve created a tool to make it easier for prospective homebuyers to get the help they need. Our new Navigator tool is a shortcut for finding the right homeownership advisor or Home Stretch Workshop.  Check out the Navigator here.

Posted on: Tuesday, April 17th, 2018  //  under Front Page Slider, Latest News

Homeownership and Retirement Assets

The Center for Retirement Research at Boston University recently released a study on home equity and retirement assets. While their data is focused on how best to USE any equity, we here at the Minnesota Homeownership Center would like to focus on one of the overlooked items in their research:


For all but the highest 20 percent of income earners, homeownership equity is STILL the number one driver of wealth for American families.


The researchers conducted a “Survey of Wealth” of households ages 65-69 and found that for 80 percent of older households, equity in their homes accounts for the overwhelming majority of their total financial assets.

For low- to moderate-income earners, they found that homeowners generally held about $60,000 in home equity compared with about $5,000 in retirement savings. That’s 12 times as much in home equity as they have in all other financial assets, including savings and bank accounts.

For median income earners, the difference is not as dramatic as for low-mod income earners, but it’s still substantial. These households generally have about $105,000 in equity compared with only $40,000 in retirement savings.

Home equity and other savings even out for higher income earners; they generally hold about the same amount of value in their home equity as they do in all other financial and retirement assets. Only the top 20 percent of income earners hold more in financial assets than they have in home equity.


This disparity in wealth and asset accumulation between homeowners and non-homeowners becomes even more pronounced when we look at the disparity in homeownership rates between white and black households.


The White homeownership rate in the U.S. is around 70%, the rate for Blacks and Latinos is approximately 30 percentage points lower. The wealth gap between blacks and whites is much larger than even the wage or income gap. According to the Economic Policy Institute, average wealth for white families is SEVEN TIMES higher than average wealth for black families. Their research shows that more than one in four black households have zero or negative net worth (owe more than all of their assets are worth), compared to less than one in ten white families in the same situation.

That’s why we’re focused on ensuring that Minnesota’s communities of color have equitable access to the information necessary to move into homeownership and its wealth-building power.


Homeownership should never be considered a quick and easy way to get rich. Slow and steady wins the race when accumulating home equity. We have some suggestions about how to best accumulate equity – and real wealth – for you and your family:

  1. Make sure that you’re a successful homebuyer. Homebuyer education and counseling is available throughout Minnesota – and online – to help you understand, start to finish, how to purchase, maintain and pay off your own home. Education and counseling can also help you avoid scams and protect your savings. Our network of homebuyer educators and counselors work for non-biased, non-profit organizations who only want what’s best for you and your family when it comes to buying a home.
  2. Take advantage of any down payment or entry-cost assistance programs that you qualify for. Your Homeownership Advisor can see if you qualify for any of the dozens of programs available to Minnesota homeowners. Using down payment assistance can build equity faster and help you retain some of your own savings to put toward long-term homeownership success (repairs and upgrades), or even toward other long-term retirement-focused savings.
  3. Don’t rush into homeownership, but do remember that home equity takes time to build; most buyers will be making a mortgage payment for 30 years or more. Our consumer surveys and interviews here at the Center show that most potential buyers think they need near-perfect credit or substantial savings in order to purchase a home. While good credit and money management are extremely important to long-term homeownership success, nobody’s perfect.

Talk with a Homeownership Advisor today – you may be closer to buying your first home than you think!

Posted on: Friday, May 12th, 2017  //  under Front Page Slider, Latest News

Latino Buyers Making Strides

 Latino Buyers - Comprador Cuidado

Census Data Shows Homeownership Growth among Latino Buyers


Anyone who spends any time studying homeownership rates or reading about real estate know that a lot of digital ink has been spilled talking about millennials and their importance on the housing market.  But if we’re looking for good news about homeownership growth, we need to look at where growth has been the most robust: latino buyers.

2015 marked the fifth consecutive year that Latino homeownership rose and according to the U.S. Census Bureau, homeownership among latino buyers increased even more in 2016. Here are the numbers they recently reported:

• First quarter 2016: 45.3%

• Second quarter 2016: 45.1 %

• Third quarter 2016: 47.0%

All indications are that these rates will continue to increase in 2017.


While positive, it’s not time to pop the champagne corks quite yet.  It will be a while before we can access comparable data for the State of Minnesota but we already know that Minnesota lags behind national averages in our homeownership rates for communities of color.

For example:

National %

Minnesota %

Hispanic Homeownership Rate  Year- End 2015

45.6 %



During the buildup to the last mortgage crisis, Latinos were disproportionately targeted for risky subprime loans and were systemic victims of predatory lending practices. We know that households of color were pressed into choosing subprime loans by their lender or broker, even when their income and credit scores qualified them for a less-expensive mortgage. One study of 14 major banks found that this kind of racial targeting was widespread: almost 31% of Hispanics and more than 41% of African Americans were offered these riskier, more expensive loans, while less than 18% of white households were offered a similar mortgage.


While many of the most dangerous products are now illegal… we are seeing a return to our market of products that can be extremely risky for consumers. This is especially true if consumers have language barriers, are less financially savvy or are being told that the product is ‘their only option’ to return to homeownership post-foreclosure.

Recently we’ve seen consumers with:

  • dangerously designed Contracts-for-Deed;
  • loan products with Debt-To-Income Ratios of more than 55%;
  • buyers who have been asked to bring cash to closing to cover lender and agent ‘expenses.’ (Yes, actual cash, in an envelope, not included in any of the disclosure statements, if you’re wondering).


The best way to protect consumers from the resurgence of these products and players is to empower them with first-hand knowledge of financial systems and the steps to successful homeownership so that they don’t fall into a predator’s hands.


Homebuyer education and counseling is the best way to help clients avoid systemic predatory lending and be successful long-term homeowners.


Do you work with latino buyers who are thinking about homeownership? Know someone who was previously foreclosed that would like to return to homeownership? The Center has several member agencies who have Spanish-speaking trained and certified Homeownership Advisors ready to empower your clients with the information they need to be successful:


Community Action Partnership of Suburban Hennepin (CAPSH)

Serving clients in Suburban Hennepin County Only.
(952) 933-9639   –   www.capsh.org


Three Rivers Community Action

Serving clients in Southeastern Minnesota
(507) 421-1214   –   www.threeriverscap.org


CLUES (Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio)

Serving clients Statewide
(612) 746-3500   –   www.clues.org


Neighborhood Development Alliance (NeDA)

Serving clients Statewide
**  Check out this article to read about a recent NeDA client  **
(651) 292-0131   –   www.nedahome.org


Framework Homeownership – our online homebuyer education workshop
is also available in Spanish for Latino Buyers!


Are you a real estate agent or a lender who is as repulsed by these stories as we are?  THANK YOU!  You need to know that homebuyer education and counseling can also help YOU in the work you do.  Your buyers will be better prepared to work with you – and will be much less likely to make financial decisions during the buying process that could torpedo your deal.

Posted on: Tuesday, January 10th, 2017  //  under Front Page Slider, Latest News

Increasing Homeownership Opportunities


Increasing Homeownership Opportunities

Every homeownership story is unique. No two buyers are identical, so no two pathways to successful homeownership will be the same either. But the clients served by the Minnesota Homeownership Center and its network of Homeownership Advisors face additional barriers and difficulties that make purchasing a home seem more like a saga than a short story.  Enjoy Evelyn’s story to see how we’re increasing homeownership opportunities:

Evelyn and her journey to homeownership.

Evelyn and her family understood the power of the American Dream. They had dreamt of owning a home in the U.S. but didn’t know where to begin. Fearful of being taken advantage of, and having heard horror stories of families losing their homes during the financial crisis, Evelyn spent months seeking trustworthy information about homeownership.

With limited English skills, no savings and no credit score, homeownership seemed like a dream that would never come true.

As an immigrant from a country where bank failures are common and access to credit is only available to a select few, Evelyn and her family operated entirely in cash. Having never even opened so much as a store credit card, Evelyn was far from having three ‘trade lines’ (different types of credit) that most banks look at when determining credit worthiness. And she was nowhere near the FICO score that would qualify her for a prime-rate mortgage.

A friend recommended she speak with a non-profit housing counselor at the Neighborhood Development Alliance (NeDA), a member of the Homeownership Advisors Network.

As a first step, Evelyn’s counselor recommended that she take LSS Financial Counseling’s Financial Literacy workshop at NeDA to learn the basics of budgeting, saving, goal setting and good credit. After she completed the workshop, her Advisor helped her open a zero-interest Credit Builder Loan through the Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers.

Evelyn’s Advisor also assisted her in opening a matched-savings Individual Development Account (IDA) at West Central Minnesota Communities Action. Evelyn’s IDA matches her savings $3 to $1 to help her save for a down payment.

With her credit quickly improving, Evelyn’s Homeownership Advisor helped her access one more credit-building loan program, this time through Associated Bank.

Even though she had to work for well over a year to build her credit, save for a down payment and stick to her budget, Evelyn never gave up. In early 2016, her Advisor suggested she take a Home Stretch workshop at NeDA to learn how to navigate the homebuying process and how to be a successful homeowner.

With her Home Stretch Certificate in hand, this summer, using $960 of her own savings, almost $3,000 from her matched-savings IDA account, and additional finances from her down payment program at Associated Bank, Evelyn was able to put down more than 10% on her new-to-her home in North Minneapolis.

Evelyn closed on her loan at the end of August 2016.

If you’re keeping score, Evelyn and her family needed the help of FIVE different organizations and their services in order to successfully purchase her home. Without the help of her Homeownership Advisor, it would have been nearly impossible for Evelyn and her family to identify these services available to her – and nearly impossible for her to own her own piece of the American Dream.

That’s what we do at the Minnesota Homeownership Center. More than 20 Years of increasing homeownership opportunities.   We work to support a network of 40 community-based nonprofits, tribal and governmental organizations that help Minnesota families make smart choices and build vibrant communities through successful homeownership.

Evelyn is just one of our success stories. Since 1993 we’ve helped more than 100,000 Minnesota families access successful homeownership.

Posted on: Tuesday, October 25th, 2016  //  under Front Page Slider, Latest News