Rob Chrane, president of Atlanta-based Workforce Resources, says members of his company's technology team have taken some of his ideas to match potential homebuyers with down payment funding programs further than he'd ever imagined.
One of the ideas is coming to reality in northern Nevada.
Workforce Resources and the Northern Nevada Regional Multiple Service Listing last week launched the Down Payment Resource program, which seeks to connect homebuyers with one of the many down payment programs, low-cost mortgages and rehabilitation loans available to them.
When home shoppers search for residences on agents' Web sites or the regional MLS, they'll see homes that qualify for any federal, state or municipal down payment funding programs. By entering additional information they can be matched with qualifying individual assistance programs as well.
"There are a lot of assistance programs for homebuyers in our market, and there has been for quite a while," says Shelley Specchio, chief executive officer for the Northern Nevada Regional MLS. "The challenge is sharing that information with the homebuyer, and keeping current with all the information."
Specchio says approximately 60 funding assistance programs are available to northern Nevadans. That posed a big challenge for Chrane's research team, which was tasked with gathering and managing that vast volume of data and presenting it online.
Researchers first scoured Internet sites for data on funding programs and then called each agency to review and revise their findings to ensure accuracy.
Once data is compiled, Workforce Resource contacts each agency once a month for any data updates.
"It is very labor-intensive, but the agencies are all thrilled because we are giving them very targeted exposure through listings, MLS sites and in front of Realtors," Chrane says.
Presenting that information, though, was even more arduous. Workforce Resources uses a software vendor in Atlanta that's developed a complicated program to filter data and match homes and buyers with qualifying assistance programs.
"They all have kind of left me in the dust," says Chrane, who spent more than 30 years in residential real estate and mortgage banking. "They know the system better than I do, and it is getting very smart on the back end. We have some pretty smart geo-matching going on in the background."
The biggest challenge now, says Chrane, is one faced by most startups: creating a market for something new.
Chrane says DPR has been launched in eight markets so far, with another two expected to come online by July. Operators of regional real estate listing services pay a one-time set up fee and monthly licensing fees to Workforce Resources for use of the program.
DRP will help spur home sales in northern Nevada by making it easier for homebuyers to gather the funds necessary for a down payment on a home, Specchio says.
"The programs have existed all along, but it was difficult to track them down through pamphlets and Web sites," she says. "This is just such a simple way for the agencies to be able to market the fact that they have funds available. We jumped on it because we thought it was such a great fit in our market, and buyers need as much help as they can get."
Approximately 90 percent of the homes listed on the Northern Nevada Regional MLS qualify for some type of funding assistance, Specchio adds. The idea for using Down Payment Resource locally crossed the path of northern Nevada MLS agents through a meeting with Chrane and consultant Warren Anrich of Incline Village.
Prospective buyers can see residences that qualify for one or more funding assistance programs by logging on to nnrmls.com and searching for properties tagged with the special DPR icon.