Outlining the Six Pillars to Equitable Homeownership

JPMorgan Chase Head of Home Lending Product and Innovation Kevin Bowen

Kevin Bowen is Head of Home Lending Product and Innovation for JPMorgan Chase & Co. He leads a team that provides the strategic vision for home lending product offerings and supports the goal of building a transformational lending experience for customers and employees. Prior to this role, Bowen was the Home Lending Origination Product and Strategy Lead, where his team simplified underwriting guidelines, expanded product offerings, and coordinated originations channel support for community and affordable lending.

Previously, Bowen led the Home Lending Controllers organization, was responsible for the accuracy of the Home Lending books and records, served as the Chief Accounting Officer for Home Lending, and provided primary finance and business management coverage for the Home Lending Capital Markets business.

Bowen is also a member of MortgagePoint’s Editorial Advisory Board. MortgagePoint’s Demetria Lester recently spoke with Bowen about expanding homeownership.

Q: How does Chase create focus and provide strategic direction around expanding homeownership?
Kevin Bowen: Our goal is to help stabilize and revitalize communities across the country. JPMorgan Chase has made a $30 billion Racial Equity Commitment, and $12 billion of that is focused on increasing sustainable homeownership for Black, Hispanic, and Latino customers across the economic spectrum. The $12 billion is a commitment to incremental lending above and beyond the purchase and refi volume we were anticipating. It’s meant to be expansionary, a real commitment to driving change.

Additionally, $14 billion of the $30 billion Racial Equity Commitment is to help increase and preserve affordable housing supply.

We call our strategy the “Six Pillars or the 6 Ps:” People, Presence, Products, Partnership, Promotion, and Policy. People means hiring employees that reflect the communities we serve and who are also the local experts in those communities, based in branches there to help bridge the gap to that community and explain the options available to achieve homeownership.

Presence is about building a Chase footprint to support our communities and our broader network. Our Community and Affordable Lending team meets with sales teams to discuss the opportunities that exist to holistically serve their communities—even if we don’t have a specific community Home Lending Advisor or HLA for their market.

I’m a Product person, so I get most excited about the Products pillar. We’re in a unique and challenging mortgage environment, but at Chase, we focus on ways we can help reach more families. Whether it’s FHA, VA, or GSE, we have several low-down payment options. In the Product pillar, we try to think through where we can provide the most access to credit, speaking to the entire economic spectrum of customers. One way is through the Chase Home Buyer Grants which offer up to $7,500 that customers can use to lower their interest rate and/or reduce closing costs and down payments for home purchases in select areas across the country.

These grants have been very successful in helping to grow homeownership in Black, Hispanic, and Latino communities, and a program that we are very proud of building. We also have what we call our Community Lending program, which is an incentive-based product for our Correspondent lending partners created to help underserved communities. Having programs to support both our direct Home Lending customers, and customers who obtain loans from our Correspondent lending partners, helps increase our reach into the communities we serve.

In the Partnership pillar, we aim to build and enhance local relationships with community leaders, local nonprofits, and those in the housing space. We want to partner with them. We want to learn from them. We want to support them.

Our Promotion focus is about raising awareness about our programs in the communities we serve. A customer can’t ask you for something if they don’t know it exists. Under this pillar, we work to dispel myths about homeownership, instill confidence, and build the trust and consideration of customers and communities.

Finally, Policy is about Chase engaging where we want to see positive impacts. We want to participate in reform that enables a more inclusive and equitable mortgage industry, and increases affordable housing supply, availability, and wealth creation.

This includes activities like the Heirs property rights initiative, diverse appraiser/appraisal initiatives, and second-chance hiring.

Q: What Chase strategies have proven effective in contributing to responsible homeownership?
Bowen: In addition to the six pillars we already discussed, we’ve succeeded in a couple of effective strategies. First, we want to hold ourselves accountable.

We’ve developed a robust governance and reporting mechanism to show/share how we’re doing on our commitments. We see it internally, but we believe in holistically making that publicly available so that folks can understand the progress that we’ve made. It’s been excellent to see that, over the past few years (since 2021), we’ve helped nearly 34,000 Black, Hispanic, and Latino customers purchase a home and aided 50,000 customers in refinancing their mortgages. That’s about $30 billion in mortgage credit, so that’s a tremendous success there. We still have more to do, but we’re building on a good base as we continue to move forward.

Then, specific to that homebuyer grant I talked about, we’ve paid that out to more than 8,600 households, which is $43 million in grants through December 2023.

We view the Chase Homebuyer grant as a way of addressing the two biggest barriers to homeownership. When we think about that responsible or sustainable homeownership model, the grant can be used for down payments and can be used to offset closing costs.

Q: How do innovation and digitalization help make responsible homeownership possible?
Bowen: We think of this as the glue that helps hold it all together. We have a digital front-end called Chase MyHome which helps customers at every step in their homebuying journey. Everything from determining how much they can afford, to searching for homes, to managing their mortgage and understanding the value of their home. As we build that out, we are focused on exploring features such as providing customers tools to help them understand their options and accessing offers they may be eligible for based on information we may already have about them. Customers can use Chase MyHome to explore the full suite of our products and our pricing so that they are the most informed they can be.

We’re also working to enhance digital income and asset verification tools which will help make the closing process even more streamlined. We also continue to use hybrid eClose, where we can help meet that customer’s expectation that they want to be able to use their phone or the website. They want to engage with us where they’re already at.

We aim to be able to provide “All things home. All in one place.” From getting your mortgage, to understanding your options once that mortgage is created, we’re there with you all the way. What if you’re looking for help with down payment options? What if you want to pay an extra $100 a month, what does that do to your amortization calculation? What if you want to see how much equity you have in your house? We can help with all of that and more. What we’ve seen is that meeting customers’ expectations for digital engagement creates much deeper relationships.

Q: As a Black and Latina woman myself, advancing Black, Hispanic, and Latino homeownership is very important. Would you say that the industry is moving at a good pace toward that, or do you think we still have more work to do?
Bowen: I think we are making progress. It’s a national, industrywide challenge. It will take national and industrywide participation and solutioning, and it’s day-in, day-out work. It needs to be something that’s embedded, that’s part of strategy, that’s part of culture. I’m very proud of the work that Chase has done, and we’ll continue to engage with partners throughout the industry to help move the needle.

Q: What piece of advice would you offer to millennials struggling to attain homeownership?
Bowen: As a member of that generation myself, I would say that the biggest recommendation, and the biggest piece of advice I have, is to educate yourself. Understand the process, the options, and the necessary qualifications. I believe Chase is one of the organizations that can work with you to help you achieve that dream of homeownership, but you need to determine what is best for you. We have plenty of tools to help you do that—check out chase.com/personal/mortgage/tools-and-education.

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Demetria C. Lester

Demetria C. Lester is a reporter for MortgagePoint (formerly DS News and MReport) with more than eight years of writing and editing experience. She has served as content coordinator and copy editor for the Los Angeles Daily News and the Orange County Register, in addition to 11 other Southern California publications. A former editor-in-chief at Northlake College and staff writer at her alma mater, the University of Texas at Arlington, she has covered events such as the Byron Nelson and Pac-12 Conferences, progressing into her freelance work with the Dallas Wings and D Magazine. Currently located in Dallas, Texas, Lester is a jazz aficionado, Harry Potter fanatic, and likes to read. She can be reached at demetria.lester@thefivestar.com.
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