Rob Chrane set out to solve a long-standing problem in the real estate industry: Create a way for homebuyers and real estate professionals to find accurate information about the many homeownership programs that are available in every community across the country.
As a former Realtor and lender, Rob saw first-hand how frustrating it was to keep up with the requirements for each program, determine what homes and buyers are eligible and get a deal completed efficiently.
He knew if more buyers could tap into these programs they could afford their down payment, which ranks as the No. 1 obstacle for potential homebuyers.
Eight years ago he founded Down Payment Resource, which creates opportunity for homebuyers, Realtors and lenders by uncovering programs that get people into homes.
“Our research found that 87% of U.S. homes are eligible for some type of homeownership program,” Chrane said. “If you don’t know about it, you can’t ask for it.”
He’s working on changing that. Down Payment Resource is available to more than 380,000 real estate professionals across 22 MLSs, Realtor associations, housing counselors and lenders. The Atlanta-based company also offers a public website and consumer-friendly search that provides access to programs in every community in the country.
Chrane’s 30-year career in the real estate and mortgage finance industries provides a unique perspective on how to deliver a cohesive solution to accessing the various programs.
He kept thinking someone else would find the solution. But after a seemingly secure 12-year position as an independent banker fell apart when HomeBanc Mortgage Corp. filed for bankruptcy eight years ago, he discovered it would be him.
“Life’s funny,” he says. “All of a sudden things change and you find yourself doing something that you thought about for a long time.”
Down Payment Resource leverages its national databank of homebuyer programs with proprietary search algorithms to match homebuyers to programs and eligible properties. The company flags eligible listings with its icon so buyers can click to learn more about their options during the home-search process.
Since about 90% of homebuyers begin their search online, usually 12 to18 months before they think they can buy, it’s valuable to integrate down payment program options into the home search so they can learn about solutions that may help them buy sooner than they thought possible, he said.
Initially, the plan was to license the solution to lenders, but a rough economic market in 2008 caused Chrane to redirect his focus to the 800 Multiple Listing Services, which could make it available to their member brokers and agents. Then, when the markets settled down a couple of years ago, Down Payment began licensing to lenders, including Bank of America.
The company has formed new partnerships, such as one with housing data and analytics leader RealtyTrac to develop new joint reports and research that highlight best and worst markets for low down payment buyers and the overall share of housing that qualifies for down payment programs.
It also hosts educational webinars featuring Housing Finance Agency program providers, and it is working on launching new business models within the real estate and lending space to deploy it to as many homebuyers as possible.
Many are surprised to learn there are programs for all types of homebuyers, including heroes such as firefighters and policemen, in many different prices ranges and income levels. Millennials often think it’s too hard to get a mortgage and they can’t afford the 20% down payment.
“[With] Millennials the problem isn’t that they can’t qualify, but that they think they can’t,” he said. “Long-term over a family’s lifetime, we can make a big impact on the household finances.”