Key takeaways: 

  • Providers of Home Equity Agreements (HEAs), also known as Home Equity Investments (HEIs), are all different, and offer different features and benefits to customers. 
  • Entering a home equity agreement is a serious financial decision, so it is important to weigh your options carefully when choosing an HEA provider.  
  • Select a company you’d feel confident about as an investment partner for years to come. 

Pulling equity from your home through a Home Equity Agreement (HEA) – also known as a Home Equity Investment (HEI) – is becoming more and more popular, with several new companies emerging to serve the growing demand. If you’re thinking about an HEA to access your home equity, what should you consider in your decision? In this article, we’ll look at the key factors. 

An HEA, or HEI, is a way to access your home equity without taking out a loan. Qualification is much easier than with loan options, income requirements are flexible, and there are no associated monthly payments and no interest rates to worry about. With an HEA, you’ll receive cash up front in exchange for a portion of the future value of your home. While each HEA provider is different, these factors provide a good baseline for your research and evaluation. 

Location 

Not all HEA providers operate in all states, so check and make sure the company you’re considering provides HEAs in your state. With most providers, you can easily check on their websites. 

Type of property 

Some HEA providers work only with primary residences. Others, like Unlock, are willing to work with investment and rental properties.  

Amount of funding available 

Every provider will be different, so find out how much of your home equity you could access through their HEA. At the websites of most providers, you can enter your property’s address and receive a no-cost, no-obligation estimate of whether you’d qualify, and for how much, without impact on your credit. 

At Unlock, the maximum amount of cash available is generally $500,000. As with other HEA providers, the specific amount will depend on several pieces of information: 

  • Your home’s current value. As a rule of thumb, the more your home is worth, the more cash is available. 
  • Your current housing debt. This includes all mortgages and credit lines secured by your home. In general, the less housing debt you have, the more cash is available. 
  • Your credit profile. A good credit track record may qualify you for more cash. 
  • Use of your property. You usually can receive more cash if the property is your primary residence. 

Agreement terms 

When you settle with your HEA provider, you’ll pay them back the original amount you received upfront plus a percentage of the change in value your home has experienced during the time you’ve held the HEA. If the home has appreciated, the amount will be commensurate; if the home has depreciated, the payment to the HEA provider decreases. When selecting an HEA provider, be sure you understand exactly what percentage of your home’s future value you will owe. In some cases, the percentage may change over the years of the term. Ask the HEA provider plenty of questions and be sure you are comfortable with the answers before proceeding.  

Terms 

First, know your term length. HEA terms run between 10 and 30 years, depending on the provider. That means you have a specified number of years to buy out your equity from the HEA provider. Some homeowners who have no plans to sell their home soon may prefer the longer term; others prefer a 10-year term. 

Understand how the HEA company you are considering will handle any home improvements you make during the term, too. Some HEA providers, including Unlock, offer an improvement adjustment so that you keep any value you create with improvements you make. 

HEA repayment options 

Once the HEA is in place, you won’t have any payments to make until you sell your home, or the term of your agreement ends. An advantage of some providers, like Unlock, is that you can also buy back your equity at any time during the term. You can even buy out Unlock in partial payments whenever you want over the term.  

Funding timeline and process 

Each HEA provider has its own process and its own timeline. Make sure that any provider with whom you are talking can outline their process specifically and realistically. 

At Unlock, for example, the overall process from application submission to funding is typically 30 to 60 days. However, this timeframe is subject to the time it takes to obtain an appraisal and inspection of your home in your state. Unlock, as other HEA providers, contracts with professionals in local areas around the country for these services and is subject to their timelines. 

The actual HEA application is generally online. However, knowing there is a member of the HEA provider’s staff available for questions and to help can be a real asset. Check with the provider you are considering to see what their process involves. 

After you have completed the online application and uploaded required documents, the HEA provider will verify the information and give you an estimate – often called an “investment estimate” – with terms and costs. Go through this estimate in detail. Some HEA providers, including Unlock, schedule calls so that you can walk through the estimate with a company representative. The bottom line is that you should experience no surprises along the way. 

Fees 

While there are no monthly payments with an HEA, you will probably encounter some initial setup fees, appraisal fees and other costs. Be sure to review with the HEA provider and get a clear idea of what costs you will incur. 

Company communications 

The decision to enter into an HEA is a serious financial one. Look for a company that is upfront and direct, listens to your concerns, and answers questions completely and honestly. You’ll want to work with a provider that will walk you through your investment estimate – containing all terms and costs – in detail. Some HEA providers, including Unlock, schedule calls so that you can walk through the estimate with a company representative, and take the time you need to ask any questions. 

Learn what communications will exist once you have your HEA in place, too. Some companies offer online dashboards to customers so they can see just how much they will need to repay at any point in their term. HEA providers can also be excellent sources of information and helpful tips on taking care of your home and moving your personal finances forward.  

Company reputation 

You may receive a referral to an HEA from a trusted friend or colleague. You can also check out articles from established news media publications and search trusted review sites to read about customer experiences with the company. A word of caution, though: Be careful of sites that appear to be credible review sites but are not. Scan for phrases such as “sponsored content” or “ad,” or other disclaimers that indicate that the “reviews” or long articles are actually paid ads.  

Choose wisely 

A home equity agreement, or home equity investment, can be an excellent no-loan option to access your home equity. It’s especially helpful for homeowners who may have fluctuating income, who are retired or whose credit scores do not always reflect their level of financial responsibility. But, as with any financial decision, it pays to take time and weigh your options carefully when it comes to choosing an HEA provider. Select a company you believe operates with integrity, that deals with customers in a straightforward manner, and that you’d feel confident about as an investment partner for years to come. 

Find out how much you might qualify for through Unlock’s HEA today. 

The blog articles published by Unlock Technologies are available for informational purposes only and not considered legal or financial advice on any subject matter. The blogs should not be used as a substitute for legal or financial advice from a licensed attorney or financial professional. Links in our blog posts to third-party websites are provided as a convenience and are for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement of any products, services or opinions of the corporation, organization or individual. Unlock Technologies bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content of external sites or that of subsequent links.