FNF expands minority home-ownership push

SEATTLE: More than a year after launching its Multicultural Marketing Division and a program to spur home ownership in minority populations in California, Fidelity National Financial (FNF) has taken its first steps to expand the initiative nationwide.

SEATTLE: More than a year after launching its Multicultural Marketing Division and a program to spur home ownership in minority populations in California, Fidelity National Financial (FNF) has taken its first steps to expand the initiative nationwide.

The program provides educational and home-buying seminars, in-language materials, and Web sites for the Latino, Asian, and African-American communities. FNF also has reached out to Web sites like RealEstateLatino.com for increased visibility.

On September 5, FNF held a seminar in Renton, WA, under the theme "Best practices in a changing market." It will hold another seminar on October 17 in Portland, OR, and hopes to expand it for next year.

FNF's efforts also include an internal initiative, the Cultural Competency Training Program, which teaches employees diversity awareness on topics ranging from ethnicity to disability and sexual orientation.

Pablo Wong, FNF SVP of market development, pointed out that businesses normally pilot a program in a region before taking it to other areas. However, recent market troubles also had an impact.

"We're expanding a program in a down market, so we had to be more careful about how we invest our resources," said Wong. "[The housing bust] is affecting our companies because there are significantly less transactions for us to handle. It's affecting our revenues."

Nevertheless, the surge in minority populations has provided an opportunity for FNF, and it sees a need for greater education in those communities. According to the most recent US Census Bureau release on home ownership, blacks and Latinos have ownership rates of 46% and 50%, respectively; the rate for whites is 75%.

Helping minority groups, immigrants, and underserved communities understand the intricacies of home ownership, Wong said, will help them to take advantage of the bounty of available housing and avoid making bad loan and refinancing decisions.

"Real estate has peaks and valleys," he explained. "Interest rates are still competitive. [There are] homes for sale. [Our] efforts will help prevent the kind of crisis we're facing in the future."

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