“You would think in this age of information, it would be easy to get your message out there, but it’s not,” says Rhonda Mitchell. “There’s still so much noise.”

Rhonda is Homeownership Director at Southeast Texas Housing Finance Corporation, or SETH, a housing finance agency (HFA) based in Houston. SETH promotes affordable housing in the Southeast Texas community.

HFAs across the country are all different. As part of their purpose, they provide down payment assistance (DPA) programs at the state, local and municipal level. Each DPA program has its own distinct requirements to qualify a borrower for a home loan, such as income, debt-to-income, credit, property location and other factors.

Disparate guidelines and requirements can be hard to navigate for loan officers, housing counselors, realtors and other housing professionals. Sometimes information is outdated, so they may be unintentionally working with – and sharing – misinformation. That’s the noise Rhonda notes.

HFAs like SETH are always looking for ways to help borrowers qualify for down payment assistance. While there are hundreds of DPA programs in the market, there hasn’t been a consistent way to match the right DPA program and resources to the needs of a particular borrower.

“It’s been an incredible challenge to provide lender partners access to real-time information,” says Rhonda, “not just for us, but for DPA programs across the U.S.”

That’s why she and her colleagues at SETH jumped at the chance to engage with Freddie Mac during the development of DPA One®, a searchable database of DPA programs that helps housing professionals quickly find, understand and match eligible DPA programs to their low- to moderate-income borrowers in search of financial assistance.

Through DPA One, program providers like SETH can manage, edit and publish their program information through a standardized data entry format and process – at any time and at no cost. There are close to 700 DPA programs in DPA One today.

“There are a lot of different requirements that an HFA has to manage,” Rhonda says, “and as DPA One was in development, we shared with Freddie Mac what our programs look and feel like to help identify the uniqueness and quirks of different DPA programs. Those differences can work to the homebuyer's advantage, so we wanted to show them off.”

HFAs frequently make changes to their programs. A loan officer may contact an HFA and note conflicting information – the lender’s internal guidelines say one thing, while the HFA’s guidelines say another. If a loan officer is unaware that the information they’re referring to is out of date, a borrower could get into a mortgage offering unsuited to their situation or could miss out on a homeownership opportunity entirely.

DPA One helps lenders keep up with program changes so they can select the best fit for the homebuyer. “I know that when I go into DPA One and change my information, the system will reflect accurate data,” says Rhonda.

SETH looks to DPA One as the trusted source for their housing professionals to better understand down payment assistance offerings and more confidently support their borrowers. “When our lender partners use DPA One, they’re less likely to get that noise and misinformation,” says Rhonda.

For example, HFAs like SETH still get the myth that a homebuyer needs to put 20% down. But with some mortgage offerings, a borrower can put down much less. “When a lender finds a DPA match, it can make all the difference in getting their borrower into a home,” adds Rhonda. “DPA One makes the search much easier."

Rhonda believes that educated lenders are stronger lenders. “Some say that it doesn't matter what lender you work with because you literally have the exact same rate on the exact same day,” she adds. “But it does matter that the lender you work with is experienced and knowledgeable.”

By using DPA One, Rhonda feels more confident when talking to lenders. And by having access to up-to-date DPA information, lenders can deliver a better experience to their homebuyers. “I’m excited that there's one place my lenders are going to find the most current information,” she says. “It’s critical that they have a resource they can trust.”

“The value of DPA One is that it contributes to partnership,” Rhonda adds. “That's why we threw our support behind DPA One. I see it working.”

Are you a DPA program provider who would like to include your programs on DPA One at no cost to you? 

Our platform partners with HFA programs as well as local and municipal providers. By providing a standardized, central location, your programs will be seen by housing professionals, such as loan officers, housing counselors and other affordable housing advocates.

To date, over 3,600 loan officers have accessed the platform to match DPA programs to borrowers and expand their book of business.

DPA One is currently optimized for lenders, loan officers, housing counselors, real estate professionals and DPA providers. We welcome other housing professionals from across the ecosystem to explore the programs and consider joining.

Visit the DPA One website to learn more.