Los Angeles, CA–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–December 12, 2005–Wells Fargo, the first U.S. financial institution to promote the acceptance of consular identification cards for opening bank accounts, today announced plans to launch a pilot program called Celebrate Home(SM) in Los Angeles and Orange counties to offer home financing tailored to Wells Fargo customers who have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). An ITIN is issued by the U.S. government to individuals who have income and are required to pay income taxes in the United States, but do not have a Social Security number.
“Everyone knows a home is the platform from which people can create a solid financial future for their family,” said Brad Blackwell, national sales manager for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, part of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., a subsidiary of Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC). “More importantly, homeownership increases a person’s stake in the community and thus leads to more stable and prosperous neighborhoods. Many studies show that homeownership provides clear social benefits. When we help a customer become a homeowner, it helps the whole community.”
Blackwell said applicants for the program will go through a rigorous identification process twice – both times in person – once when they open a bank account and then again when they apply for a mortgage. He said the company takes very seriously its responsibility to comply with the Bank Secrecy Act and all other government regulations involving safety and security.
The Celebrate Home program provides up to 90 percent financing on select fixed- and adjustable-rate loans up to $600,000 on the purchase of a single-family home or condominium. Potential homeowners may qualify if they have been Wells Fargo banking customers for at least six months, have paid taxes using an ITIN for at least two years and can provide proof of two years of residency.
Program highlights include:
— Non-traditional credit references to enable consumers who do not have traditional or lengthy credit histories to qualify for the program;
— Qualifying housing debt-to-income ratios that address the growing reality that homeowners need to spend a greater percentage of their income on housing;
— Flexibility on closing costs and income sources to allow customers to use gifts as a source of closing costs and to qualify based on some income received as cash; and
— Interest rates for both fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages that are comparable to those available through similar programs offered by Wells Fargo.
Customers who qualify for the Celebrate Home program must participate in face-to-face homebuyer education classes made available in their preferred language.
“In the last four years, Wells Fargo has proven it can successfully meet the needs of customers who do not have access to traditional banking services through its policy of accepting consular identification cards as a valid document for opening checking and savings accounts,” said Shelley Freeman, Wells Fargo’s Los Angeles Metro community banking regional president. “Introducing home financing to these customers is the natural next step to help them create family financial security while building wealth now and for future generations.”
A University of Tennessee study concluded that parents who are homeowners have a greater stake in the community and pass along that mindset to their children. Children of homeowners are 25 percent more likely to graduate from high school, have a 116 percent better chance of graduating from college, and are 59 percent more likely to own a home within 10 years of moving from their parents’ households. The study also showed homeowners are more involved in their communities, which translates into increased property values and lower crime rates.
“We believe everyone who qualifies should have an opportunity to own a home and become financially successful, contributing members of the community,” said Kim Young, regional president for Wells Fargo banks in Orange County. “At Wells Fargo, it is our mission to serve every segment of our communities in a fair and responsible manner.”
Based on 2001-2004 national HMDA (Home Mortgage Disclosure Act) data, Wells Fargo originated more mortgage loans to people of color, to low- to moderate-income customers, and in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods than did any other lender during that period.
Wells Fargo Home Mortgage is the nation’s No. 1 retail mortgage lender* and one of the country’s leading servicers of home mortgages. It operates the country’s largest mortgage network from nearly 2,400 mortgage and Wells Fargo banking stores and the Internet. Based in Des Moines, Iowa, it services loans for over 5 million customers nationwide.
*Based on year-end 2004 statistics compiled by Inside Mortgage Finance − Feb. 18, 2005