The California Association of Realtors today launched a new tool to help real estate professionals and their homebuyer clients find buyer assistance programs throughout the Golden State.
The California Mortgage Resource Directory is powered by Down Payment Resource, which connects eligible homebuyers and eligible properties with government-funded programs for down payment assistance, affordable fixed-rate mortgages, mortgage credit certificates and rehab loans.
Buyers can search the directory by city or address, enter their household size and income, and specify whether they may have special circumstances, such as a disability or membership in the Army. The tool saves the information entered for a maximum of one hour and does not store it on its servers.
"Millions of dollars go unused every year because homebuyers are unaware of the various buyer assistance programs available to them," said CAR President Don Faught in a statement.
"With California Mortgage Resource Directory, Realtors and buyers can quickly connect with any number of homebuyer resources without having to search within each municipality individually."
Atlanta-based Workforce Resource LLC is providing its Down Payment Resource tool to a number of multiple listing services around the country, including the Tucson Association of Realtors MLS; St. Paul, Minn.-based NorthstarMLS; Lisle, Ill.-based Midwest Real Estate Data LLC (MRED); White Plains, N.Y.-based Empire Access MLS Inc.; Kansas City-based Heartland MLS; Reno-based Northern Nevada Regional MLS; Concord, N.H.-based Northern New England Real Estate Network; Asheville-based North Carolina Mountains MLS; and Orlando-based My Florida Regional MLS.
In a separate initiative, CAR has launched a free hotline to assist its 155,000 members with any issues related to financing a real estate transaction.
CAR’s Finance Helpline provides one-on-one assistance to California Realtors dealing with short sales, real estate owned (REO) properties, deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure, funding hurdles, and any other potential financing obstacles to closing a deal.
Members can submit help requests through an online form, email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or via phone (213-739-8383). Helpline hours are from Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The trade group said a lender liaison — someone familiar with various lenders and their processes — would respond to inquiries within one business day. The helpline is available only to CAR members.
CAR spokeswoman Lotus Lou said the helpline has already had a handful of calls, and CAR anticipates the most common inquiries will concern issues with short sales.
CAR also has a separate, free legal hotline for members that will remain available, Lou said.
Last month, CAR announced it would offer another free benefit to all of its members: zipFormMLS-Connect, a tool that allows users to import data directly from a multiple listing service database into transaction forms from real estate technology company zipLogix.
ZipLogix’ electronic forms software, zipForm, was already a free member benefit to CAR members.
Founded in 1991, zipLogix is a joint venture between the National Association of Realtors and Real Estate Business Services Inc., a CAR subsidiary. NAR holds a 30 percent stake in zipLogix valued at $7.3 million as of Sept. 30.
Members of three California MLSs — East Bay Regional MLS, Sandicor and Central Coast Regional MLS — gave their members access to zipFormMLS-Connect last year. EBRMLS and Sandicor made the import tool available to their members for $19.95 per year, and the bulk of CCRMLS’ members got access to the tool for free.
"We’re glad to offer zipFormMLS-Connect to all CAR members as a new 2013 member benefit," Faught said in a statement. "This innovative solution helps our members get buyers and sellers to the signing table quickly, regardless of their physical location."