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Th e M Rep o RT | 49 O r i g i nat i O n s e r v i c i n g a na ly t i c s s e c O n da r y m a r k e t Department ORIGINATION the latest Bank of america launches Organization to Help Homebuyers Down Payment ResouRce centeR will Point buyeRs towaRD feDeRal, state, anD local assistance PRogRams. by samantha guzman GEORGIA // In an effort to help prospective buyers become homeowners, Bank of America has launched a new web tool to guide consumers through down payment and closing cost assistance programs available in their region. This new tool, the Bank of America Down Payment Resource Center, was developed by Atlanta-based Workforce Resource and is powered by Down Payment Resource. "Taking a few minutes to answer fewer than five ques- tions can get you one step closer to homeownership. Through a simple process, you can find out immediately which federal, state, or local down payment and closing cost programs you might be eligible for," said Dottie Sheppick, SVP of af- fordable housing for Bank of America. "With a wide variety of qualifying criteria, there may be a down payment assistance program for you." About half of first-time homebuyers say affordability is a barrier for them to purchase a home, according to a recent Bank of America survey. Also, according to a NeighborWorks America survey, about 70 per- cent of U.S. adults are unfamiliar with down payment assistance programs for middle-income homebuyers in their community. "Lack of funds for a down payment has long been one of the most common barriers to buying a home," said Rob Chrane, president and CEO of Down Payment Resource. "Many buyers assume down payment programs offered by state and local housing authorities are only for lower- income candidates, but there are programs available for middle- income buyers, too. In fact, there are programs that cover a variety of non-income-based eligibility criteria, and every homebuyer concerned about affordability should investigate down payment assistance." Customers can search a database of more than 1,300 down payment and closing cost assistance programs when they visit the Bank of America Down Payment Resource Center. Customers can also learn how to use down payment and closing cost programs—in combination with first mortgage loans—to make homebuying more afford- able. They can also get informa- tion to help them prepare for purchasing a home, and they can even speak with a Bank of America mortgage specialist to explore other possible options. Workforce Resource has partnered with many nonprofit organizations, realtor associa- tions, multiple listing services and financial institutions to share their web-based solution with real estate professionals and consumers. The partnership with Bank of America represents its first national partnership and first with a major lender. Zillow: mortgage access getting easier for Borrowers cReDit availability neaRly back to PRe-cRisis levels WASHINGTON // Getting a mort- gage is getting easier, and markets are inching closer to pre-crisis lev- els, according to Zillow's Mortgage Access Index (ZMAI). Now, many borrowers, who last year may have only been eligible for FHA loans due to a low credit score or down payment, are being offered conventional loans with private mortgage insurance, opening them up to options with more competi- tive terms and rates. Mortgage credit availability reached its peak in August 2004, recording an index score of 134.6. Access began to drop over the next several years. Then, in May 2007, both the housing and mort- gage availability began a multiyear plunge, leaving home values down more than 22 percent and credit the tightest it had been in years. In September 2010, the ZMAI bottomed out at 9.6. Today, the ZMAI currently sits at 71.5, and access to mortgage credit has im- proved significantly. It is roughly two-thirds of the way back to the 2002 pre-crisis level of 100. "The reality of what borrowers are experiencing in the mortgage market does not match the popular narrative. Lenders are, in fact, opening their doors a bit wider, especially for borrowers with credit scores below 700," Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries said in a press release. "Modestly easier credit will help first-time buyers get into the market, which will have many benefits. Given all the market has been through the past few years, this is a natural place to be in the housing cycle. We're a long way from again letting credit get too loose, but we'll need to remain vigilant not to repeat the mistakes of the recent past." A high number on the ZMAI means credit is easier to obtain. A lower number means credit is tighter. The ZMAI uses seven variables to measure access to credit. Those variables include: credit score, debt-to-income ratio, privately insured proportion, non- conforming proportion, second- mortgage prevalence, mortgage rate spread, and Zillow mortgage quotes ratio. Of those variables, the bottom 10th percentile of credit scores accepted, the prevalence of second mortgages, and the number of quotes on Zillow offered to mortgage inquirers, saw the greatest positive movement in the six most recent months of the ZMAI. Zillow launched in 2006 and is headquartered in Seattle. ORIGINATION local eDition

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