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Navigating the home-buying process can seem overwhelming for many borrowers, but it may seem particularly challenging for those who have the added challenge of not being a native English language speaker. Language barriers can further complicate an already complex and highly-detailed transaction, yet borrowers with limited English proficiency, or LEP borrowers, represent a growing share of the mortgage market – a trend that is likely to continue in the coming decades.
In 2017, The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac
conducted research on issues faced by LEP borrowers throughout the mortgage life cycle to better understand the experiences of these borrowers and of the mortgage industry participants who serve them. Among several findings was that, while translated mortgage documents exist, translations alone are insufficient for full comprehension of the mortgage process. Further, neither consumers nor industry actors are commonly aware of available language resources or where to find them. This research indicated that a centralized repository of high-quality translations and other resources could help.
That’s why Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac worked with FHFA to develop a
Language Access Multi-Year Plan, a key part of which is the Mortgage Translations clearinghouse to be launched by FHFA on October 15, 2018. Together, we have been working closely with representatives from the housing industry, consumer organizations, and other government agencies to develop tools to assist LEP borrowers. The Mortgage Translations clearinghouse is a centralized repository of in-language resources, including translated mortgage documents, educational materials, and a glossary of terms associated with the mortgage process. The first phase will include resources in Spanish – the language most commonly spoken by LEP households in the U.S. – to be followed by Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and Tagalog over the next two years.
Gathering translated documents in a centralized location for use by loan originators, servicers and other market participants is intended to make the mortgage process more efficient, while also helping to assure that borrowers understand their obligations. Getting accurate and trustworthy resources in the right hands at the right time is vital to helping LEP borrowers pursue the American dream of home ownership.
Limited English Proficiency (LEP); LEP; Mortgage Translations; Fannie Mae; Freddie Mac; consumers; Clearinghouse; Mortgage
Senior Policy Analyst Office of Housing and Regulatory Policy
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