In a new type of home equity loan, two California-based financial companies are allowing homeowners to cash out their home’s equity without the burden of debt or interest fee of traditional loans. EquityKey and FirstREX both offer these types of mortgage loans in exchange for a portion of the future equity of the home.
The way it works is that when a homeowner wants a loan, they receive a large lump sum of money to be used any way they want. In return the homeowner sell a percentage of their home’s future appreciation value. For example, you might take out about $50,000 in equity and agree to turn over 50 percent of your equity appreciation when you sell your home. If you sell in 15 years and the home has gained $200,000, you have to give the lender $100,000 at the close of the sale.
“We refer to it as a real estate participation agreement, because the key difference between debt and equity is while we will participate in the upside, we have no absolute right of getting paid back the initial principle investment,” said Jeff Nash, co-founder of EquityKey in a Forbes interview. “If initial prices go lower, we reduce the amount we are owed, until we owe nothing.”
This type of equity loan can also be used as a down payment for some buyers. They sell a portion of future equity to one of these financial firms and they receive a chunk of money to contribute to a down payment on a mortgage with a different lender.
There may be some cases where the borrower would owe money out-of-pocket to the equity loan lender. If they sell within a few years of the agreement when there has been little or no appreciation, the borrower may be required to repay some of the cash.
The EquityKey and FirstREX models can be a good fit for those who plan to stay a long time in their homes but do not expect the market to appreciate substantially. It can also be good for first-time buyers looking for down payment help.
“Their prospects in the future may be wonderful, but their cold cash on the spot is not wonderful,” said David Blitzer of S&P Dow Jones Indices. “So if you can do things like let them monetize in advance some of the future value of the house, that’s big plus.”