Northern Trust Co., Chicago, has unveiled a 100% financing package for first-time homebuyers.

Under the plan, a buyer would not have to make a down payment if a relative or friend opens a time deposit account equal to 20% of the home's value.

The deposit would secure the mortgage until the loan balance declines to 75% of the property's value.

While Northern Trust is best known for catering to upscale consumers, it has not restricted itself to high-balance loans, said Linda McCoy, a second vice president. The company wrote about 500 mortgages last year, with an average balance of $200,000.

"We have found that many potential homebuyers are kept out of the market because they do not have the down payment," Ms. McCoy said.

Similar products have been introduced by New York City-area thrifts, but have been only mildly successful. The Dime Savings Bank said it marketed a 100% financing package in 1990 in a weak housing market. But it plans to revive a campaign for the product, believing that first-time homebuyers are gaining confidence in the economy.

The consumer finance arm of Merrill Lynch & Co. recently introduced a variation on the concept, offering 100% financing if parents place money in a securities account.

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