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June 20, 2017

Making Homeownership More Accessible to Employees

When Reed Carr was looking to purchase his first home, he sat down with his wife and wrote down a list of things that were important to them during their search.

"At the top of the list was to be close to family," said Carr, an engineering technical lead at Freddie Mac. Both Carr and his wife, Michelle, were raised in the same town and both of their parents still live there. This presented a problem for Carr, as the median listing price for a home in that area was nearly double the national average, pushing their budget to the limit.

"We were really struggling to find a home that was affordable and close to family," said Carr, who started at the company in 2013.

Relief came in the form of an employee benefit offered by Freddie Mac that gives first-time homebuyers money towards the purchase of a new home. The Freddie Mac Home Benefit Program provides financial assistance, up to $12,000, to increase the affordability of an employees' first time purchase. The benefit is open to qualified full-time and part-time employees who have been with the company for at least a year. The benefit allowed Carr to purchase a dream home near his family last October.

"For the first time, my wife and I have our own home and our own space. That is really rewarding. The benefit opened up more opportunities to purchase a home that we will be able to stay in longer," he said. "We are where we are because of family and [our home] gives us space to spend time with them."

Financial assistance is part of a larger effort by Freddie Mac to help their employees become responsible homeowners. The Home Benefit Program also includes paid time off for closing and access to the Freddie Mac CreditSmart® online training resource. CreditSmart® is a multilingual financial education curriculum and consumer outreach initiative designed to help people build and maintain better credit, make sound financial decisions, and understand the steps to sustainable homeownership.

Senior HR business partner Alison Sealock used the benefit when it became clear that her family was outgrowing their starter home.

"[Our townhouse] was kind of closing in on us as our family was growing. Now, we have more space to spread out and a yard for our kids and dog to play." said Sealock. "I think it's a great perk to have at Freddie Mac and marries what we're trying to do here day-to-day."

Senior HR business partner Amy Brenner also said that the benefit matches the company's mission.

"They put their money where their mouth is," she said. "If you as an employee are willing to take the plunge [into homeownership], then they are willing to take it with you."

Brenner, who joined the company in 2008, took advantage of the benefit two years ago. Like Carr, Brenner said being closer to her family was high on her wish list.

"We have family over all of the time," she said. "We have family barbeques and we have space for all of the kids to play in the yard."

Brenner said that being a homeowner has also strengthened her relationship with her community.

"My intent is to be in this house forever," she said. "For that reason, [my community] is important to me. This is where we are going to be."

Carr agreed: "I had an advantage in that I grew up here, but even beyond that, I am already involved with the youth soccer club that I was part of growing up. I am also a member of a local energy and environment sustainability group. There are many examples –  just in the past six months – that show that we've put down stronger roots."

All three employees said that using the benefit and purchasing a home has made them feel closer to the company and its mission to make home possible.

"When I was going through this process, I would share with people that this is something that my company was doing for me, it was really nice to get that positive reaction, which in of itself is really reenergizing," said Brenner. "I do believe that Freddie Mac made an effort to make it a program that does make homeownership more accessible."

Added Sealock: "It makes me appreciate what we do here every day."

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