We Can Crowdsource Home Ownership Now

We have Kickstarters and GoFundMes and Indiegogos for just about everything, whether it's for health emergencies or creative projects. The rightness or wrongness of crowdsourcing aside, it's becoming a more normalized way of helping people get a solid financial footing. Now a surprising partner has gotten into the game: your mortgage lender.

HomeFundMe is a new service from CMG Financial. It operates like many other crowdsourcing platforms, but with a crucial twist: The platform doesn't take a bite out of what you've raised to pay for transactions. Instead, the mortgage lender covers the cost.

If you're a first-time buyer or someone who always thought owning property was out of your reach, HomeFundMe aims to make that financially possible. You don't need to repay anyone, and you have a year to raise the funds and make your down payment. Even if you don't meet your fundraising goal, you may still be able to put what you collected toward home ownership — a fundraising coach will assess whether your total can still comprise a reasonable offer.

Contributing to your own fund is fine, and anything you collect that's above your goal is yours to put toward a bigger down payment. Your donors can designate their gifts as conditional, which means they could get it back if you don't raise enough, or non-conditional, in which you keep everything they give. Finally, HomeFundMe has no fees and no taxes. The money raised goes into an escrow account, which is eventually transferred to the seller.

There are limits on what people can give. Generally gifts will stay within the $50 to $250 range. You can also link HomeFundMe from wedding and baby registries if you want. Finally, borrowers can even get grant and matched donations to apply toward the down payment after attending a free credit education class. It's a pretty remarkable set-up — plus it's all backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

If debt, high rent, and underemployment have set you back on life planning, or if you're worried you can't afford a home after the initial investment, this may be one way to get it done. While government and financial sector reforms would go a long way toward making this service redundant for many, crowdfunding your down payment may be the next best thing for now.