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Tapping your equity: Understanding shared equity agreements

Everyone should have the financial flexibility to afford what they want and need. The good news is, as a homeowner, you can leverage equity to meet those goals. In this post, we'll explore what home equity-sharing agreements are, how they work, and the benefits they offer.

Lindsay VanSomeren
July 12, 2023
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Everyone should have the freedom and financial flexibility to afford what they want and need —such as enjoying a stress-free retirement or helping with their grandchild's wedding. However, paying for those things in cash often seems difficult or impossible — especially if you can’t qualify for traditional loans.

The good news is, as a homeowner, you can leverage equity to meet your needs. While many equity products create monthly payments or add to the debt load, others help homeowners break the debt cycle — like a home equity sharing agreement. An alternative to traditional home financing, they offer many advantages, such as easier qualification requirements and a more flexible payment structure. In this post, we'll explore what home equity-sharing agreements are, how they work, and the potential benefits they offer.

What is a home equity sharing agreement?

A shared equity financing agreement is an alternative way for homeowners to obtain funds for large purchases. Some companies also offer home equity sharing agreements to help provide funds for a house down payment, which can help people afford a home in high-cost-of-living areas where they might otherwise be priced out.

Instead of paying interest like with a regular loan, home equity sharing agreements are repaid a bit differently. You’ll need to repay back the initial amount you borrowed, plus a portion of your home’s appreciated value, at the end of a specified term length. This is why it works more like a partnership than a loan — you may have to pay a lot or a little, depending on which way home values go over the years.

How does a home equity sharing agreement work?

A home equity sharing agreement works similarly to a traditional mortgage or a home equity loan, with a few key differences. Both options require you to offer up a slice of your home equity in exchange for a lump sum of money, but the way you qualify for your funds differs greatly.

If you opt for traditional home equity financing, you’ll generally need good credit and income to qualify. If you’re approved, you’ll generally need to make regular payments right from the start. After you’ve paid off the loan, you’ll own all of the equity in your home again. If you sell your home, you’ll get all of the proceeds.

A shared equity agreement, on the other hand, doesn’t require any ongoing payments and is much easier for most people to qualify for. You’ll typically repay a home equity sharing agreement after 10–30 years with a single lump sum payment, or earlier if you choose. Many people choose to repay the shared equity agreement out of the proceeds from selling their home, or with a cash-out refinance loan or other traditional financing option.

Advantages of home equity sharing agreements

More and more people are choosing home equity sharing agreements because they have an edge over traditional financing options in many cases. Take a look and see whether you might be able to benefit from any of these advantages of shared equity agreements:

  • Longer and more flexible repayment terms
  • Easier qualifications
  • No monthly payments
  • No early payment penalties — buy back your equity at any time
  • Can be assumed by heirs
  • Homeowners share in gains or losses with partner company

Types of shared equity finance agreements

Most home equity sharing agreements fall into two camps: shared equity mortgages designed to help more people buy a home, and home equity investments that provide a flexible source of funds for current homeowners.

Shared equity mortgages

A shared equity mortgage helps would-be homeowners afford the hefty down payment needed to get approved for a mortgage. In exchange for providing funds, the partner company often owns a portion of the home, similar to how married couples may both be listed as owners of a home.

Shared equity mortgages are more commonly offered through local governments and nonprofit organizations to help promote homeownership among people who otherwise might not be able to afford a house.

The money that you borrow is generally repaid at a later date in one lump sum when you sell or refinance your home, plus a portion of your home’s appreciation.

Home Equity Investment (HEI)

A home equity investment differs in that the partner company doesn’t usually become a part owner of the home like with a shared equity mortgage. Instead, the partner company is usually listed as a lienholder, similar to how your mortgage lender may be listed as a lienholder for your home.

Home equity investments are repaid similarly to shared equity mortgages: as a lump sum, plus a portion of your home’s appreciation. For example, let’s say that you borrowed $100,000 in exchange for 25% of your home’s future appreciation in 30 years. If your home’s value rose by $50,000, you’d then owe a total of $112,500 — the initial $100,000, plus 25% of the $50,000 appreciation ($12,500).

In other cases, a company might provide funds in exchange for a smaller slice of your home’s entire value later on. For example, if a company offered you $100,000 in exchange for a smaller 5% cut of your whole home’s value later on, you would instead owe $125,000 if you sell it for $500,000. That’s the initial amount you borrowed ($100,000), plus 5% of your home’s $500,000 sales price ($25,000).

What can you use home equity sharing agreement funds for?

If you’ll be using a shared equity mortgage, you can use the funds to help you make a down payment. This is especially useful in high-cost-of-living areas, where it can be tough for anyone to save up the 20% down payment needed to avoid paying extra for private mortgage insurance (PMI).

Home equity investments, on the other hand, are a much more flexible source of funds. You can use them for just about anything you want, similar to the way people sometimes use personal loans. Homeowners commonly use HEIs to pay for things like:

home-equity-sharing

Is a home equity share agreement right for me?

It’s important to consider all of your options if you need to borrow money — traditional and alternative financing included. Traditional financing options may be a good choice if you have excellent credit and a high income to make regular payments. Not everyone has that, though, and that’s where home equity sharing agreements can come in.

Consider looking into an HEI with a company like Point if you have a lot of equity in your home but you aren’t in a position to qualify for traditional financing. Partnering with Point can also be a good option if you prefer to defer payment until a later date, while you enjoy living in your home today.

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