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HomeFree-USA and First American Work Together to Increase Minority Homeownership In Dallas

September 15, 2006

At a September 7 event attended by a variety of housing and mortgage industry leaders, representatives from HomeFree-USA, a leading nonprofit homeownership achievement organization, and The First American Corporation (NYSE: FAF), a large provider of business information, announced a new effort underway to join public sector, private sector and nonprofit organizations to drive successful homeownership within Dallas-area minority communities. Speaking at the First American and Freddie Mac sponsored event, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Alphonso Jackson expressed strong support for accelerating minority homeownership and narrowing the existing gap in homeownership rates between white Americans and minorities in the Dallas area.

Secretary Jackson encouraged the attendees to “work with HomeFree-USA and other HUD approved housing counseling agencies. These agencies do much to ensure the American dream of homeownership is attainable by all American families. Homeownership is good for our communities and great for our economy. HUD is committed to making sure all Americans have equal access to building financial independence and self-sufficiency through homeownership.”

HomeFree-USA and First American have partnered since early 2006 to help expand the vital pre-purchase education and post-purchase follow-up counseling services that homebuyers need. Throughout the past 11 years, HomeFree-USA has provided these services to thousands of consumers, helping them to buy and keep their homes. The organization intends to expand its successful homeownership center concept to additional metropolitan markets—including Dallas in November 2006—to provide the necessary support services to help convert renters into long-term homeowners.

“First American, much like our other great mortgage industry and government partners, understands that there is a tremendous need in the minority community for basic information about the homebuying process,” said Marcia J. Griffin, president of HomeFree-USA. “Our goal is to create a new financial empowerment and homeownership achievement movement through which homebuyers are encouraged to improve their credit, seek guidance on down payment and closing cost assistance programs and to become fully educated about homeownership before searching for a home. We look forward with great enthusiasm to the opening of our Dallas homeownership center and the opportunity to help more Americans achieve the dream of—not just homebuying—but sustained, successful homeownership.”

The event, held at the City Club of Washington, D.C., was attended by Virgil Griffin and Linda Brooks of Freddie Mac; Dallas City Councilman Leo Chaney; Dallas business executives David Willis, president of Renaissance Development and Oscar Joyner, president and chief operating officer of Reach Media; and Darlene Jackson of the National Black Republican Council.

In the wake of recent news reports that adjustable rate mortgage payment resets appear particularly troublesome for many minority borrowers, Lionel C. Savage, vice president of market development at First American, emphasized the importance of programs that help minority borrowers secure better financing at closing, understand their refinance options and prepare for interest rate fluctuations and other factors that can potentially jeopardize their homeownership.

“Since its inception, HomeFree-USA has helped more than 3,000 families purchase their first homes without a single instance of foreclosure,” said Savage. “That amazing statistic illustrates the importance of homebuyer education and counseling programs that truly prepare the buyer for the homeownership experience and that extend beyond the closing table. First American is a proud supporter of HomeFree-USA’s efforts and looks forward to the expansion of its services.” 

Source: The First American Corporation

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