Keep Your Pipeline FullJoel S. Patehomeownership, downpayment assistance, gift programs, In many nationwide markets, millions of hardworking families are unable to obtain the simple dream of homeownership. Owning a home allows a family to establish roots, build equity and, of course, fulfill the overwhelming desire for a place to call their own. The lack of available downpayment funds is the primary reason why most families are unable to purchase a home. With lack of funds limiting an increasing number of buyers, shouldn't you consider marketing your company as your area's downpayment gift program expert? Many mortgage companies have done just that. Whether a first-, second- or third-time home buyer, downpayment gift programs are meeting the needs of many families. Thanks to originators like you, gift programs are providing the opportunity for more than 12,000 families per month to purchase homes. However, should you consider making the move into marketing gift programs, there are several basic parameters to consider. Most importantly, verify that the specific program you choose is approved by your lenders. Additionally, make sure that the chosen charity can provide the marketing and customer service support that you require. Several downpayment programs have local representatives who provide on-site marketing support, real estate agent and builder training, and free marketing materials. Consider the gift program provider as a part of your team. As a team member, they should be accessible, return phone calls promptly, and provide answers to your questions in a timely manner. By deciding to become the downpayment gift program expert in your area, you will be both financially and personally rewarded. You will never forget the expression on a client's face when they look at you and say, "This is my home. Thank you for helping me." Joel S. Pate is president of American Family Funds Inc., administrator of the Dove Foundation Downpayment Gift Program. He may be reached by phone at (251) 344-1084 or by visiting www.americanfamilyfunds.com.