Bank of America unveils down payment assistance search tool

Consumers and Bank of America’s mortgage loan officers now may have an easier time pinpointing down payment assistance programs that can sometimes be the ticket to homeownership for buyers who might otherwise remain on the sidelines.

The financial institution, which claims to serve 48 million consumer and small business relationships, has partnered with Down Payment Resource, a firm that tracks about 2,300 down payment assistance programs, to provide a tool that lets consumers and Bank of America’s loan officers search across all Bank of America-approved homeownership programs.

“Greater consumer awareness about their entire home financing options, including down payment programs, could easily boost home sales and buyer affordability this year,” said Rob Chrane, president and CEO of Down Payment Resource.

Lending some credence to his claim, a recent study by data aggregator RealtyTrac and Down Payment Resource found that nearly 9 out of 10 U.S. homes could qualify for down payment assistance programs when homebuyers also fall within maximum income limits.

While plenty of first-time homebuyers might be in the dark about assistance programs they may qualify for, people are particularly clueless about down payment assistance available to middle-income buyers.

Seventy percent of U.S. adults are unaware of down payment assistance programs within reach of middle-income buyers, according to the non-profit NeighborWorks America.

Down Payment Resource provides information on assistance programs through a public-facing website, DownPaymentResource.com, and to partners including Realtor associations, multiple listing services and lenders.

MLSs that partner with Down Payment Resource can integrate their listing data so that member brokers and agents can see which for-sale listings may qualify for assistance programs. A special icon identifying potentially eligible properties can also be displayed to consumers searching for homes on public-facing MLS and MLS member websites.

21 multiple listing services and Realtor associations representing more than 356,000 professionals have partnered with Down Payment Resource, allowing their member brokers and agents to search for and share eligible properties and programs with their clients by email, and invite buyers to enter their household information to help match them to programs and homes, according to Tracey Shell, vice president at Down Payment Resource.