A Fannie Mae program that provides detailed information about the homebuying process to people who respond to the agency's advertisements has been an "oustanding" success, according to James A. Johnson, chairman.

Speaking at a home builders conference in Houston on Monday, Mr. Johnson said 32% of the households that responded to the outreach bought homes within a year.

"The results of our campaign to date will be as many as 130,000 new customers for home builders and mortgage lenders, and is powerful evidence that giving consumers the information they need can help them achieve homeownership.

He added that Fannie Mae, formally the Federal National Mortgage Association, was seeking a million consumer responses this year.

The program uses television, radio, print, and mail advertising in English, Spanish, and three other languages to urge potential homebuyers to write or to call an 800 number. They receive a free 27-page guide to homebuying, along with lists of participating lenders and loan counselors. A second guide, "Choosing the Mortgage That's Right for You," was added in October.

While hailing the program's success, Mr. Johnson did find one particular aspect of the results disturbing. Among white respondents, 38% bought homes within a year, while the figure for Hispanics was 21%, and for blacks just 19%. "The disparity between white Americans and minorities in the speed in which they are able to purchase a home is troubling," said Mr. Johnson.

But he went on to say that homebuying by minority respondents accelerated in the second six months of the program, while it trailed off for whites. He took this as an indication that the education process was working and that it had simply taken longer for minorities to benefit.

He added that 43% of the respondents to the program were minorities, citing this as an indication that the program was correctly targeted.

"If our current level of consumer success holds, more than 300,000 of the one million consumers who contact Fannie Mae this year will be in homes they own next year. This will be an important achievement," Mr. Johnson said.

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