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home-equity-agreement

How do you get a home equity agreement?

Home equity agreements can be easier to qualify for than other options, but how do you actually apply? We’ll explain how to get a home equity agreement.

Lindsay VanSomeren
January 11, 2024
Updated:

Explore the series: A guide to home equity agreements

Learn everything you need to know about this financing tool with our in-depth blog series on home equity sharing agreements.

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Homeownership comes with many benefits, including the ability to use your home equity to fund a better life. About 43% of homeowners had enough equity to qualify for a loan or line of credit, according to a 2023 TransUnion report, with a median equity amount of $242,000 available. Yet, according to another study, only around half of homeowners are actually approved for financing when they go to apply for these debts — why?

Oftentimes, homeowners may not qualify because they’re on a fixed income or don’t have a high enough credit score. Even if they do, a traditional home equity debt product isn’t always the best option. In these cases, a home equity agreement may be a better choice. First, you’ll need to know how they work and how to apply for a home equity agreement.

What is a home equity agreement?

Home equity agreements (HEAs) are a way to pull money out of your home without conventional debt. Instead, an HEA is an investment that a company makes in your home’s future value, hence the name for a similar product: a Home Equity Investment, or HEI.

An HEA allows you to borrow a certain percentage of the equity you have built up in your home. You can use this money for virtually anything you want, such as getting rid of your debt, remodeling your home, or building a new addition. It requires no monthly payments and has fewer qualifications compared to debt-based home equity financing options. 

At the end of a 10- to 30-year term, you’ll repay the amount you borrowed — plus a portion of your home’s new value and any fees — in one large balloon payment. Many homeowners use cash savings or take out another loan to make this payment; alternatively, you can also pay back your HEA at any time using proceeds from a home sale

How to get a home equity agreement

Taking out a home equity agreement isn’t as simple as, say, a personal loan, but it’s also far less complicated than you might think. Here’s a good strategy for how to get a home equity agreement while ensuring you’re able to get the most out of it.

home-equity-sharing

1. Assess your financial health

Although HEAs have fewer requirements than traditional lending products, you’ll still need to meet certain qualifications. It’s also a good idea to do a thorough financial review anyway so that you know whether you qualify for other options that may fit your needs better. Here’s what to consider:

  • Budget: Tally up your income and expenses to see how much — if anything — you have left over each month that could potentially be used for a monthly payment.
  • Credit score: Check both your credit score and your credit report, which may contain errors that you can fix in order to ensure your credit is correct.
  • Home equity: Compare your remaining mortgage balance to your home’s estimated value. Generally, you can borrow up to 80% of your home’s value minus your remaining home debts, meaning you’re not eligible for an HEA until you have at least 20% equity in your home.
  • Debt-to-income (DTI) ratio: Calculate what percentage of your monthly gross income goes toward your debt payments. If you’re approved, some companies require you to use a portion of your HEA funds to pay down your debt if your DTI ratio is above 45%. Some products, such as Point’s Home Equity Investment, come with no DTI restrictions.

2. Explore your options

Now that you have a baseline to work from, it’s time to shop around. First, consider whether an HEA is the best option for your needs, taking into account your qualifications and your future plans for your home. Consider the pros and cons of HEAs when making this decision. Other HEA alternatives include:

If you decide an HEA is your best option, it’s wise to consider your options from among the full range of shared equity agreement companies. Things to compare include:

  • Fees
  • Term lengths
  • Share percentages
  • Early buyout options
  • Assumability by heirs
  • Adjustments made to home value
  • Caps and limits on repayment amount

In addition, consider whether repayment is based on your home’s total value or only a portion of the appreciation

3. Submit an initial offer request

The first step to getting an HEA is to complete an initial offer request online. This only takes a few minutes and doesn’t impact your credit score with most companies. 

You’ll get a quick estimate of how much funding you may be eligible for, along with the option to submit a full HEA application. It’s a good idea to complete an initial offer request with a few HEA providers so you can compare your options. 

4. Gather your documents and submit a full application

Choose the best HEA offer and continue with a full application. Generally, this requires you to submit a few more pieces of information, along with copies of certain documents. 

Getting approved for a home equity agreement generally requires fewer documents than when you first applied for your mortgage. Most HEA providers require the same things: your government-issued ID, a recent mortgage statement, and the declaration page for your homeowner’s insurance.

5. Get an appraisal

A representative from the company should reach out to touch base and explain the rest of the process. Typically, the HEA company will order an appraisal in order to get an accurate measure of your home’s current value, which impacts how much money you’ll be able to access. Depending on the company, this appraisal may require someone to come to your home or could be done remotely. 

6. Final underwriting

After the HEA provider has an accurate estimate of your home’s value and verifies your other details, they’ll draw up a final offer for you to sign. Read this carefully, and if you still approve, go ahead and sign it. In some cases, you may be required to sign this in the presence of a notary. 

Once the agreement is signed and returned to your HEA partner, it’s official: you both agree to the terms of the contract, and you’re now approved for the HEA. 

7. Receive funds

Most HEA providers disburse your funds via electronic methods, such as a wire transfer or ACH deposit. This usually occurs within a few days of signing the agreement. Remember, any origination fees or closing costs may be taken out of your HEA funds if you didn’t pay for them upfront, so the actual amount you receive may be slightly less.

Once the funds are in your bank account, you can use them for whatever you want, with few or no restrictions depending on the terms of your contract. 

Final thoughts

Keep a copy of your HEA contract within easy reach in case you have any questions about your agreement. This is true for any financial tool, but it’s especially important when it comes to a product like an HEA that is tied to your home. Having a lien on your home from your HEA may come with certain contractual responsibilities, such as keeping up with property taxes and submitting requests when you want to refinance your first mortgage.

It’s important to keep in mind that you’ll need to make a large balloon payment eventually, so you should start taking steps now to ensure you’re able to do so when the time comes. That way, you won’t have any surprises, and you can enjoy many years or even decades of payment-free bliss. If you’re looking for a 30-year term and maximum flexibility in your home equity solution, a Home Equity Investment (HEI) from Point could be a good option for you.

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