I’ll admit, I didn’t think we’d be sitting here less than a year after moving to Denver, preparing to close on a mortgage. I thought we’d be able to make it happen eventually, but I didn’t think it’d be this fast.
Before we go, I wanted to write up some thoughts about an invaluable resource throughout the whole process: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The bureau gets a lot of attention for its enforcement actions mission, and while that’s an important one that’s provided relief for millions in the bureau’s short history, they also have an educative mission. They provide resources for navigating worlds that usually involve taking out several thousand dollars of debt like paying for college, buying a car, and owning a home, and transactions that help you and your family stay safe and solvent like planning for retirement, sending money overseas, and using prepaid cards. They explain your rights, what to expect, and what to watch out for, and break the process into discrete steps that correspond to how consumers actually approach these things.
When I worked there, the bureau was in the midst of their Owning a Home project and I knew the people working on it were doing tremendous amounts of research to understand all the terms and design an experience that worked for the American consumer. I remember how excited the team was to be launching something so impactful. When it first launched Owning a Home provided data and basic information about home loans, interest rates, and closing documents. Now it looks like this and, as it developed since 2014, became a comprehensive guide to the home owning process. I didn’t know anything about homeownership then but I knew about the financial crisis, and how people got talked into loans they couldn’t afford only to then have their home, brokers took shortcuts and took risks they should have known not to take, and the system was generally stacked against the consumer. Putting this information into the world would only help protect people and better know their situation up front.
Today, as we prepare to walk into closing and make a huge financial decision, we’re confident we can afford the house and the loan, confident we understand the terms, and confident there’s someone who can help if things get murky.
The CFPB is the killer app of the banking world. I know people lived without it in the past but I really can’t fathom how. If you know someone who is starting to deal with these financial decisions point them toward CFPB’s Consumer Tools. If CFPB has been valuable to your home buying process, write your Senators and Members of Congress and tell them. Then tell them your story. They’re doing an important public service over there, and stories like this reassure them that they’re on the right track.
Thank you CFPB, and all the brilliant designers and policy professionals you have working on keeping us safe and confident as we navigate these weighty and stressful decisions.