IDEA & OPPORTUNITY > Person to Person loans for home buyers

A new online marketplace with the descriptive name Home Equity Share matches home buyers with investors. To be exact: it brings together buyers who can afford monthly payments but not a 20% down payment, and investors who want to get into real estate but don't want to become landlords or make monthly payments.

Potential home buyers post a profile listing their preferences, including the area they want to buy in, and the price range they're looking for. They're automatically matched with compatible investors, come to an agreement and sign a preliminary commitment. This allows the buyer to become pre-approved for a loan, and to start looking for a property. Once buyer and investor agree on a property, the investor provides the down payment, the buyer arranges a mortgage for his home and moves in. At the end of a specified agreement term-usually three to seven years-the buyer can purchase the investor's interest in the property, or they can sell the house and share its appreciation in value.

Home Equity Share provides the matching service and contracts at no cost to buyers and investors, but requires that they use a real estate agent who is registered with the company. Agents pay a referral fee of 20% of the commission earned on transactions referred by Home Equity Share. (Since the service is still in its soft-launch phase, it won't be accepting new agents until early fall 2007.) We featured a similar business idea last year: Shared Spaces, a British network that also matches co-buyers. The major difference is that Shared Spaces is mainly targeted at buyers who'll be inhabiting a property together-roommates who are buying instead of renting to get a first foot on the real estate ladder.

Unlike P2P lending services we've written about in the past, such as Zopa and Prosper, Home Equity Share is targeting a very specific niche: real estate down payments. It matches the parties and provides them with contracts, but doesn't facilitate the exchange of money. Other niche P2P lending matchmakers to follow?



Spotted by: Susanna Haynie
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