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How Startups Are Encouraging Homeownership

Angelica Assim Nov 1, 2019

Even if you earn a decent salary and feel ready to buy your first home, oftentimes bad credit or a lack of hefty savings can mean you're denied a mortgage.

Especially for millennials who entered the job market during the recession and are usually racked with student loans to pay off, it's certainly not easy.

In the face of high price tags and a limited inventory of appropriate starter homes, businesses are popping up to fill the gap. Here, we're talking about two different kinds of startups -- rent-to-buy services and cash mortgage companies -- who are helping their clients achieve homeownership.

Rent-to-Buy Services

Usually, potential homeowners are out of luck if they fail to secure a mortgage. Companies like Divvy Homes and ZeroDown are doing things a little differently and offer a "rent-to-buy" system.

Currently operating in Cleveland, Memphis, and Atlanta, Divvy Homes buys homes in cash on their clients' behalf while the client pays between 1% and 2% down and monthly rent for a three-year term.

Credit and financial checks are required and Divvy Homes choose the price range of your property. Clients' monthly rent with Divvy Homes than normal rent but 20% of those funds are going toward equity in the home.

By the end of the three years, clients will own around 10% of the home, boosting their credit and making it far more likely that they'll qualify for a mortgage. Even if clients change their minds about the property, they still have a 10% stake and walk away with their portion of the sale.

Some experts say that, while this model is better than what led to the recession in the first place, it's not perfect. You might be better off paying less in rent so you can save more and qualify for a mortgage down the track.

Still, building credit with equity on a home does look pretty good to lenders and at the end of the day, Divvy Homes is a startup that is finding solutions. And that's something we can get behind.

Another rent-to-own service taking more expensive markets by storm is ZeroDown, offering home-buying assistance to those struggling to find their footing is some of the most popular cities in the world.

For a $10,000 fee, ZeroDown buys homes on their clients' behalf and rents it to them for up to five years. The catch is that the home must be worth at least a certain dollar amount -- $500,000 in San Francisco where they frequently operate, but the requirement depends on your city's market.

Their system allows clients to earn equity in the home based on monthly credits. Each month that a lease payment is made, the consumer earns 0.25% of the home's value and after two years, they'll have the option to buy.

However, the longer they rent, the more stake they have in the property. For example, after two years, the client will have credits worth 6% of the total value. But if they lease for five years, they'll have 15% equity.

If the client decides not to buy the house, they'll get half the value of their purchase credits back. In some ways, it's a more flexible system than what Divvy Homes offers but the initial fee can feel a lot like a down payment. Plus, if you don't buy, you'll be looking at losing money.

Overall, ZeroDown focuses on the most expensive markets in the U.S. where people are looking to buy homes potentially worth $1 million or more. So, when you put things into perspective, it works for those looking to be homeowners in these lucrative areas.

Cash Mortgage Companies

UpEquity is considered a cash mortgage company along with the Seattle-based startup Flyhomes. We operate similarly but there are a few key differences.

It's well-known that when buying a home, cash offers will give you the upper hand in negotiations. Sellers love them too because they feel confident that the funds will come through. It's a win-win on both ends of the transaction which is where we come in.

At UpEquity, we offer the confidence of cash with the flexibility of a mortgage. In a nutshell, if your mortgage isn't approved by a certain date, we'll step in and provide an all-cash offer to make sure you secure your new home.

You'll need a credit score of at least 700 but it's not about being unable to qualify for a mortgage. It's about removing the uncertainty that always comes with applying for a mortgage, no matter what your financial background. In today's economic climate, it's difficult to feel secure. With UpEquity, we've got your back.

Similarly, FlyHomes helps level the playing field for their clients by making them cash buyers. To work with FlyHomes, buyers put down a non-refundable 5% deposit which goes toward the eventual closing and the company bids on their clients' home with cash.

Once their mortgage comes through, clients pay FlyHomes back for the home.

The common goal of all of these startups to promote a better home-buying experience, especially for first-time homeowners. Ready to start the journey?

Give us a call today to learn more.