OneUnited Bank in Boston is trying to help people get back on track economically with two new programs.
The $616 million-asset minority owned bank's Waive Home Loan Program aims to make home financing more affordable by waiving fees for items that include appraisals, credit reports, processing and flood certification. The program will run through the rest of this year.
Those fees usually add up to several hundred or even thousands of dollars, Teri Williams, OneUnited's president, says. "We believe getting people over that hurdle will allow them to move forward in a better circumstance with a better loan," Williams adds.
Applications received to buy or refinance a single-family home in OneUnited's lending areas in Boston, Los Angeles and Miami are eligible. The program is open to everyone, including first-time homebuyers, owner-occupied as well as investment properties.
Many borrowers still have rates above 6% and Williams believes credit circumstances have prevented most consumers from refinancing. Also, upfront fees often discourage people from refinancing, Williams says. The new program "was introduced to help people get an economic boost by paying less for their mortgage," Williams says.
OnitedBank has also launched another program that focuses on lending in low- to moderate-income communities. The Unity Visa Card will offer a lower annual rate than other secured credit cards. The card will not have fees for purchases and deposits, Williams says.
The Unity Visa Card will report to all three major credit bureaus: Experian, Transunion and Equifax. Cardholders are automatically enrolled in OneUnited's "How to Rebuild Credit Program" which offers educational tips and strategies on how a borrower can rebuild and maintain a healthy credit score.
"What I say to people that have bad credit and may be uncomfortable applying is that you should apply because the card is actually for people who have bad credit," Williams says. "On Unity Visa, there is a comeback of the economy and this tool allows people to start focusing on rebuilding their credit."