When Fifth Third Bancorp this summer began offering mortgages with 3% down, it joined a growing list of big banks that have made splashy commitments this year to expanding access to homeownership.

Through a partnership with Freddie Mac, the Cincinnati bank is offering Home Possible loans to borrowers in underserved neighborhoods. It has also sweetened the deal, offering up to $3,600 in down-payment assistance — a feature not offered by its larger peers.

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