CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Homebuyers in Corpus Christi will now be able to shop for houses online a little easier and know if the properties they like qualify for down payment assistance.
The Corpus Christi Association of Realtors launched a new version of its MLS website, www.Coastalbendlifestyle.com, which includes updated search capabilities, user-friendly sorting systems, optimized mobile viewing, and the capability to share properties via social media. It’s also only the second MLS website in Texas to notify buyers that certain homes could be easier for them to buy through government assistance programs.
“We had a homegrown website that was pretty rudimentary. Searching wasn’t easy and wasn’t user friendly,” said Warren W. Andrich, president and CEO of the Corpus Christi Association of Realtors.
“This site has greater flexibility. It’s a much better site for buyers and Realtors.”
The new website was developed by Point2, which didn’t charge the Corpus Christi Association of Realtors for creating the new website.
Integrated into the new MLS website is a database that matches home buying assistance programs with eligible properties.
There are more than 2,300 programs across the country, largely run by state and municipal governments, that help homebuyers get into a home, said Rob Chrane, President of Down Payment Resource. The software adds assistance information to the listings. Most of these programs assist buyers with down payment money either through a grant or a loan.
Because each assistance program has different criteria that can be based on specific neighborhoods or census tracts, sales price, or other factors such as if it was previously foreclosed on, most homeowners don’t explore opportunities for help.
“There used to be no mechanism to automate the process for a potentially eligible homebuyer,” Chrane said.
Most of the assistance programs require that the buyer meets certain criteria, typically tied to the buyer’s income and other demographic factors. But once those criteria are met, buyers didn’t have a way to sort through which properties qualified for the assistance. The new Coastalbendlifestyle.com displays what assistance each property is eligible for with an icon next to the property when it shows up in a basic MLS search.
Corpus Christi joins Austin’s MLS website, Austinhomes.com, in offering this feature in Texas.
Andrich said that although the new website is optimized for mobile devices, CCAR plans to launch more mobile resources for homebuyers and real estate agents in 2015.
— By Sara Yonker