Perspectives

Help for Borrowers with Limited English Proficiency

Jonathan Lawless As the U.S. becomes increasingly diverse, it’s important to understand the evolving needs of potential homeowners to ensure that responsible, sustainable homeownership remains within reach of all Americans. Today, more than 25 million people in the U.S. have limited proficiency with the English language. Having access to mortgage resources in their native languages can help better inform and prepare them for the lending process and successful homeownership.

Mortgage Translations clearinghouse

We’re excited to partner with the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and Freddie Mac to launch the Mortgage Translations clearinghouse, a central online source of translated documents. The new Mortgage Translations clearinghouse will equip loan officers, real estate professionals, and others in the industry with resources to help their customers understand and navigate the complexities of the home buying process. It currently offers Spanish translations of mortgage documents and educational materials, plus an industry-standard glossary of mortgage-related terms. Translations in four additional languages will be added to the website over the next two years.

FHFA Mortgage Translations We believe this type of in-language support for new homebuyers is not just a convenience, but fills an important need. It helps remove fear and mystery from the process, and promotes respect, financial savvy, and access to affordable mortgage credit for working families and individuals of modest means with limited English proficiency in support of our mission.

Industry impact

The Mortgage Translations clearinghouse marks significant progress toward implementing the tactics presented in the Language Access Multi-Year Plan. The Plan is a joint initiative among FHFA and the Enterprises – Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – to support mortgage-ready borrowers with limited English proficiency. Phase 1 of Mortgage Translations is designed to enable lenders, servicers, and housing counselors to access Enterprise resources that will better enable them to serve these borrowers, with the goal of adopting these resources into their borrower offerings. The Enterprises and FHFA have collaborated with a diverse group of industry partners, from lenders to advocacy groups, to ensure the website offers maximum value.  

Meeting the needs of new households

Close to 75 percent of household growth over the next five years is expected to be driven by members of racial and ethnic minorities. We’ll continue to identify new solutions to achieve our mission of putting responsible, sustainable homeownership within reach of more Americans and to help lenders prepare to meet the needs of these new households.

Jonathan Lawless

Vice President, Product Development and Affordable Housing

October 15, 2018