California Homebuyers Have a New Tool

No, we're not being snarky about a dodgy real estate agent. There's actually an online tool to help homebuyers find help with their down payments.

Photo by: Zillow This typical home is just out of reach for many homebuyers. But a new search tool for down-payment assistance programs might bring it closer. 

Searching for a home is one thing: You know how many bedrooms you need, your preferred school districts and your deal breakers. Searching for a mortgage loan is a whole different pain point, because you're the one being scrutinized, judged and questioned. 

With mortgages so difficult to get, and Bay Area real estate prices continuing to climb, any help for people in need of the biggest down payment (and a smaller mortgage) is welcome. Enter the California Mortgage Resource Directory, produced by the California Association of Realtors. It's a pretty simple search tool, but that simplicity can save you hours of time (and possibly quite a few dollars). You enter basic information about your home search — you don't have to register, you don't enter your email and your info is not stored on the site — and up pops a listing of down-payment assistance programs for which you might be qualified.

Questions are pretty basic: Are you buying a single-family home? Are you a first-time homebuyer? Are any of your dependents disabled? Are you a veteran, nurse or educator? Are you buying a home that meets particular energy-efficiency requirements? There are more questions, all designed to ferret out information that might qualify you for grants or other assistance. When I entered my family's info, 11 possibilities popped up. It was up to me to do further research, but this was a terrific start.

Up until now, the most reliable way to find out about such programs was by chatting with real estate agents. The best ones knew amazing tips and tricks, and since their job is to get you into a home, they are more than willing to help guide you. But not everyone is a champion kibitzer. For homebuyers whose full-time jobs make a full-time job like mortgage shopping a near impossibility, this is a super innovation.


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