Windermere Real Estate’s Vice President of DEI, 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 bridge the affordability gap facing Black/African American homebuyers.
“The Sam Smith ‘Hi Neighbor’ Homeownership Fund is designed to help low-to-moderate-income home buyers who have historically been underserved by traditional lenders,” said Enos, adding, “Through donations from the Windermere Foundation, U.S. Bank, and JP Morgan Chase, the Sam Smith fund is helping to reduce barriers to homeownership by funding loan products for Black/African American first-time home buyers in Washington State.”
Named after Washington State Legislator Sam Smith, who championed the passing of the state’s Open Housing Law barring discrimination based on race and religion in 1967, Enos says that Windermere and HomeSight hope to be part of a solution that helps increase Black/African Americans homeownership in the state of Washington.
According to a report by National Association of REALTORS®, Black/African American homebuyers are more than twice as likely to be rejected for mortgage loans than white homebuyers. Nationwide, only 43% of Black/African Americans can afford to buy a home versus 63% for Whites. In Seattle, the Black/African American homeownership rate is 25.8% compared to 50.9% of White homeowners. While in King County, the median income for Black households is $48,075, about half the median income of White households at $94,533.
Carl Smith, son of Legislator Sam Smith, said, “It’s an honor and a pleasure to have the Sam Smith name used to pursue equity in home purchases,” said Smith, adding, “My grandfather instilled in my father that the way to have freedom is to have land and for people in that era, it was freedom.”
Since launching in November 2021, Windermere has contributed $80,237 to the fund through donations from Windermere agents, offices, and company leadership, including a personal donation of $50,000 from the Jacobi family to help seed the fund.
Windermere Co-President, OB Jacobi, said that the goal is for Windermere to raise $250,000 annually. Darryl Smith, executive director of HomeSight, adds that the fund has already helped three families realize their dream of homeownership and there are currently four additional families in the process of looking for homes.
HomeSight identifies borrowers that qualify for the Sam Smith fund and grants up to $12,000 to use towards their home purchase costs. The loans can be layered on top of the buyer’s existing mortgage loans or work in conjunction with other HomeSight purchase assistance programs. Sam Smith deferred loans are repayable in thirty years, when the homeowner refinances, or when they sell. Once the loans are paid off, HomeSight resolves the funds, ensuring availability to future borrowers.
Enos concluded by saying that the company is currently seeking out lenders like HomeSight in other states where Windermere operates with the hopes of expanding the program well beyond Washington State.
For more information about HomeSight, visit https://www.homesightwa.org/mortgage-lending/. For more information, visit windermere.com.