The Tucson Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service has teamed up with an online software company to help eligible home buyers find down-payment assistance.

The local listing service and Atlanta-based Workforce Resource, www.workforce-resource.com, announced Friday the launch of a web-based tool to help home buyers realize just how many local down-payment assistance programs are available to them.

The tool, called Down Payment Resource, connects buyers to properties that qualify for government-funded down-payment help, affordable mortgages and rehabilitation loans.

In the past, it's been tough for buyers and their agents to identify what types of programs are available, said Philip Tedesco, CEO of the Tucson Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service. So much so that cash for those programs goes unused, Tedesco said. And that leads the government to reduce funding for those programs.

This new tool should help keep that from happening, he said.

"It takes it totally out of the abstract and it gives you a real good idea of what's available," Tedesco said.

Locally, more than three-quarters of residential listings may be eligible for a down-payment assistance program, according to the Tucson Association of Realtors. Right now, Down Payment Resource is tracking 34 programs in the area, 25 of which are funded and available for use.

Just one example: the Pima County Homebuyer Assistance Program offers $5,000 in down payment help to qualified low-income, first-time home buyers.

Wading through those programs - which are often layered throughout local and federal governments - is difficult for both buyers and Realtors, Tedesco said.

With the new tool, as agents or buyers search for properties on the multiple listing service website, www.tarmls.com, they'll find an icon that reads "DPR" (as in Down Payment Resource) toward the top of any listing eligible for a payment assistance program.

Clicking the icon, which shows an outstretched hand holding a house in its palm, reveals programs the property may qualify for. Buyers can then click another link and answer eight questions to help them determine if they meet the qualifications.

Realtors using the tool can search for eligible properties for their clients, quickly view details about assistance programs and add the tool into their own websites.

Tedesco said Workforce Resource tracks which government programs are available, both locally and federally, for each specific property.

The tool is especially important in today's sluggish housing market, where buyers sometimes need a little extra incentive before they decide to snatch up a property, Tedesco said.

And saving up for that down payment is still an obstacle for many potential buyers.

"Consumers still report that securing a down payment is the biggest challenge in buying a home today. With Down Payment Resource, TARMLS is providing a unique way to help its members and the community find affordable homes and assistance options," said Rob Chrane, president and founder of Workforce Resource.

Contact reporter Dale Quinn at dquinn@azstarnet.com or 573-4197.