Want to buy a house, but don't have the cash for a down payment? A new tool from the NorthStar MLS, the organization that provides Realtors with all those house listings and other information, automatically connects home buyers with cash, grants and other forms of assistance that's available from thousands of agencies, lenders and organizations. The arrangment is part of a pilot program called Down Payment Resource that mostly targets starter houses and was developed by an Atlanta company.

For details about the program you can talk to your Realtor, but you can also find properties that are eligible for assistance by searching listings at www.cbburnet.com and www.edinarealty.com and looking for an icon that says  "see if you qualify for downpayment assistance."

For example, Edina Realty agent, Bill Pauling, is hosting an open house Sunday at 4803 3rd St. NE in Fridley, a four-bedroom, two-bathroom house that's listed at $145,000. So when you click on the "downpayment assistance" icon, you'll get an 8-question survey that helps to immediately determine your eligibility and then tell you about various programs. I said that I was a first-time buyer, family of four with a household income of $50,000, and it said that I was eligible for 13 programs and then asked me to submit contact info so that the agent would contact me to get more info.

Let me know if the program helps you, I'm interested in hearing more.

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