Ask the expert:

We can afford to buy a home, 
but don't have a big down
payment. Is there any chance 
we can still get a mortgage?

	I'd say it's time for you to start shopping for the home you want. Within the next few months, U.S. policy makers are planning to shoot down the 20 percent down payment rule. 
	In order to give the housing market a boost, they will bring back the no-down-payment mortgage or at least greatly reduce the 20 percent requirement. 
	The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is still pushing for buyers to make some kind of down payment, but at least in the beginning of the new rules, they will approve the policy since it will be reevaluated in two years and every five years after that. 
	Changing the 2011 rules
	The Obama Administration has been trying to relax some of the postcrisis efforts to tightening lending standards. Their concern was that the housing sector, traditionally an engine for economic recovery, is struggling to shift into high gear. 
	Quoted in The Wall Street Journal, the overseer of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac recently said mortgage companies should make more credit available to home buyers.
	The SEC's change of heart is the latest twist in a battle over the 2010 Dodd-Frank mortgage rule. It was intended to improve the quality of loans by increasing down payments or making banks retain a stake in mortgages they make, package and sell to investors.
	If lenders didn't get 20 percent down, they would have to retain 5 percent of a loan's risk on their own books. 
Fighting the 20 percent rule
The original rule proposed three years ago brought a backlash from the housing industry, affordable housing authorities and civil-rights groups. 
	They said the requirement would end the dream of home ownership for many Americans. And that's exactly what the 20 percent down payment rule did.