Enter real estate website Zillow to help ameliorate the roadblocks toward home ownership. Through a partnership with Down Payment Resource, the company has added a widget to its home listings enabling users to check if they qualify for down payment assistance programs rendering home ownership more attainable – particularly for first-time home buyers. Down Payment Resource is a technology firm that tracks funding status, eligibility rules, benefits and other factors for more than 2,000 down payment assistance and affordable lending programs.
Such resources aren’t new, but something of a well-kept secret. The funding sources now take center stage on the Zillow site amid photographs of homes on the market and listing details of interest to potential buyers – proximity to quality school districts, presence of restaurants, points of interest, access to major highways and more.
Despite a general lack of awareness of such assistance resources – that could help buyers with down payments, closing costs or taxes – all 3,143 US counties have at least one down payment assistance program, and more than 2,000 counties have at least 10. A Down Payment Resources analysis found the estimated benefit of a down payment assistance program is about $17,000, the lion’s share in down payment help and closing costs on eligible for-sale listings nationwide.
“These 2,000 plus programs are administered by some 1,200 program providers, and they have different types of programs, different eligibility rules, different terms, different benefit amounts,” Down Payment Resource CEO and founder Rob Chrane told Mortgage Professional America in a telephone interview.
“Some of the programs are grants,” Chrane added. “It’s literally free money with no indebtedness incurred. The majority of them are repayable at the time the homeowner sells the home. Most of the time, they don’t have monthly payment in the interim. There’s a relatively small percentage of programs that might have a nominal interest rate or nominal payment, but if you look at the database, the majority of them are repayable due on sale so there’s no interest or monthly payment being made.”