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The Community Reinvestment Act, commonly known as the CRA, has been a pivotal law in the banking industry since 1977. Designed to curb discriminatory lending practices, the CRA requires banks to extend their services to every part of their community, including low- and moderate-income (LMI) areas.

These rules, which were last updated nearly 30 years ago, are currently being updated to meet the needs of today’s digital age. And while most correspondent lenders are non-banks, the new changes spell opportunities for lenders that expand their reach to underserved LMI communities.

What’s Different

Announced in October 2023, the final CRA rule changes reflect the rise of online and mobile banking and branchless bank models and seek to strike a balance between digital banking services with physical branches in LMI communities. They also specify eligible CRA activities, such as expanding affordable housing in underserved, native, and rural communities, and introduce metrics-based benchmarks for evaluating a bank’s retail lending business using peer and demographic data.

So how do these changes impact correspondent lenders?

With banks now more incentivized than ever to invest in low- and moderate-income communities, they will become increasingly selective in their loan acquisitions. As a result, they might actively seek out partnerships with correspondent lenders that can help them meet these new obligations.

In other words, if your loans have a direct positive impact on underserved communities, banks may see you as a valuable partner—which could lead to fresh business opportunities and a greater share of the market.

How CBC Mortgage Agency’s Chenoa Fund Down Payment Assistance Program Can Help

Given the new CRA rules, correspondent lenders would be wise to think creatively about how to serve homebuyers in underserved areas. One of the best tools for doing so is by adopting down payment assistance (DPA) programs targeted at low- to moderate-income homebuyers, such as those offered through by CBC Mortgage Agency.

When it comes to DPA, options abound. Some involve grants or forgivable loans that don’t require repayment, which makes them extremely attractive to first-time homebuyers who lack savings and don’t have access to gift funds from relatives. There are also second mortgage options available at low or zero interest rates, which enables borrowers to build home equity without being overwhelmed by high monthly payments.

Either way, Chenoa Fund down payment assistance is a win-win for everyone. For the homebuyer, they break down financial barriers to homeownership. For correspondent lenders and their banking partners, they provide a means to reach an underserved segment of the homebuyer market while aligning with the CRA’s renewed focus.

Honoring LMI Lending

If you’re starting to see the effectiveness of DPA programs in today’s CRA landscape, there are few DPA providers better suited to partner with than CBC Mortgage Agency. Over the past 10 years, we’ve helped more than 44,000 borrowers – including many LMI families – access DPA through the Chenoa Fund down payment assistance program to achieve and sustain homeownership. We also have approval from the USDA to provide USDA loans, which are another powerful tool for serving LMI borrowers in rural areas.

But that’s not all. To inspire other lenders to join us in our mission, we began recognizing companies that share our commitment to advancing homeownership opportunities. Our newly launched Kani Awards program recognizes lenders that support economic stability for homebuying families by offering innovative DPA programs that help LMI borrowers overcome the barriers to homeownership.

“Kani,” (K-AH-N-EE) the traditional Paiute word for home, embodies the spirit of the Kani Award. The meaning behind the Kani Award echoes CBCMA’s tribal roots and the company’s longstanding commitment to promoting inclusive homeownership since its inception 10 years ago.

Last month, our inaugural Kani Awards program honored five lenders based on their share of mortgages sold to LMI borrowers during the previous calendar year: Cardinal Financial Company, Everett Financial (Supreme Lending), Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation, Nova Home Loans, and Paramount Residential Mortgage Group, Inc.

By offering Chenoa Fund down payment assistance programs through CBC Mortgage Agency, you can join these leaders in community investment—and make your loans more appealing to banks that are now motivated more than ever to serve these communities.

Interested in learning more? Give us a call at (866) 563-7572, email us at, or click hereThis is intended for industry professionals only and is not intended for or directed at consumers.

CBC Mortgage Agency – NMLS 1186381

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Illinois Residential Mortgage License #MB.6761292. Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, Division of Banking, 555 W. Monroe St., Suite 500, Chicago, IL 60661 – 1-888-473-4858. This information is provided by CBC Mortgage Agency and intended for real estate and mortgage professionals only. It is not intended for public use or distribution. Terms and conditions of programs and guidelines are subject to change at any time without notice. This is not a commitment to lend. Equal housing opportunity.