Diversity Success Stories in Fintech

Speaking with the company’s president and COO, Sarah Dekin, uncovers more about how this unique approach is changing the game for homeowners across the US.

“Our data-driven, proprietary model uses machine learning to analyse hundreds of factors beyond FICO scores and debt-to-income ratios to provide a more accurate assessment of applicants’ financial standing,” Dekin explains.

“This makes investments possible for more homeowners across the country — including small business owners, self-employed individuals, and others that may have been shut out by the more restrictive qualification criteria of conventional financing options.”

This article originally appeared on The Fintech Times. Read the full article here.

Hometap Wins 2023 Excellence in Customer Service Award

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS—April 12, 2023— Hometap today announced it has been named a winner in the 2023 Excellence in Customer Service Award presented by Business Intelligence Group.

Hometap is expanding the home equity financing space, providing an alternative solution for homeowners looking to access the equity in their homes. Unlike a lender, Hometap makes investments in homes in exchange for a percentage of the future value of the property, providing homeowners debt-free cash today with no interest or monthly payments. Hometap pairs each homeowner with a dedicated Investment Manager who provides a single point of contact and guides them through the process from beginning to end, answering any questions they have along the way.

“We’re thrilled to win the Excellence in Customer Service Award for the second year in a row,” said Hometap CEO Jeffrey Glass. “Our personalized, best-in-class service is a cornerstone of our company. It is an incredible honor for our team to be recognized for their dedicated, ongoing efforts to ensure an exceptional homeowner experience.”

“Customer service professionals and suppliers have had to make significant changes to adopt to our evolving world,” said Maria Jimenez, chief nominations officer of the Business Intelligence Group. “It is our honor to recognize Hometap as they are leading by example and making real progress on improving the daily lives of so many.”

The Excellence in Customer Service Awards celebrate those who are winning by supporting their own customers and those who are developing the tools to help others find success. Awards were given out to consultants, outsource partners and technology providers for superior performances in the past 12 months.

About Hometap

Hometap is on a mission to make homeownership less stressful and more accessible. Our home equity investment product provides homeowners with a fast, simple, and straightforward way to access the equity in their home without taking out a loan or having to sell. By investing alongside homeowners, Hometap offers debt-free cash in exchange for a share of their home’s future value — all without any monthly payments or interest over the life of the investment. Through a combination of financial innovation and best-in-class customer service, Hometap enables people to get more from homeownership so they can get more from life. Learn more at hometap.com.

About Business Intelligence Group 

The Business Intelligence Group was founded with the mission of recognizing true talent and superior performance in the business world. Unlike other industry award programs, these programs are judged by business executives having experience and knowledge. The organization’s proprietary and unique scoring system selectively measures performance across multiple business domains and then rewards those companies whose achievements stand above those of their peers.

Matthew Conroy
(203) 610-1421

Maria Jimenez
Chief Nominations Officer
Business Intelligence Group
+1 (909) 529-2737

How the Inflation Reduction Act is Helping Homeowners Go Solar

Electric vehicle charging off battery

On August 16, 2022, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 into law. This act includes both new and revised tax incentives, like a solar tax credit, for clean energy projects, which have been growing significantly in popularity in recent years.

Here are the most important things to know about the act — and how you might be able to leverage it to lower your tax bill.

The Basics of Solar Tax and Clean Energy Incentives

A tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in your federal income taxes. In order to be eligible for the solar tax credit, you have to meet some basic criteria:

  • Your system must be installed and deemed operational by a city inspector in any tax year from 2022–2032.
  • Your project must fall under the umbrella of solar, geothermal, or fuel cell energy.

The solar credit amount under Section 25D, previously known as the Residential Clean Energy Credit, is dependent on the year in which the system installation was completed. It has increased from 26% to 30% for installations completed after December 31, 2021, and this credit will continue until December 31, 2032. In 2033, the credit will drop back down to 26%, then to 22% in 2034, and is set to be eliminated beginning in 2035.

If you’ve purchased and moved into a new home with a solar system and own the system outright, you’re eligible for the inflation tax credit the year you moved into the house. However, if you’re leasing the system or purchasing it through a power purchase system (PPA), the company that owns the system is eligible for the ITC instead.

To claim the credit, you’ll need to file IRS Form 5695 along with your tax return. On Part I, you’ll calculate the credit, and input the result on your 1040.

Why Homeowners Are Going Solar Now More Than Ever

In the second quarter of 2022, residential solar set its fifth consecutive quarterly growth record. Why are more homeowners than ever investing in solar? Industry experts point to a few reasons.

“There are two primary concerns driving growth: increasing electricity cost and decreasing grid reliability,” explains Matt Bramson, Elevation Executive Vice President of Marketing and Sales.

Bramson went on to explain that unless multiple batteries and associated load-handling equipment is installed, a battery cannot backup an entire home or even an HVAC system for long in a power outage. Additionally, the rate that utilities pay homeowners to buy back excess solar power is often so low that homeowners are finding it makes more financial sense to store that power in a battery during the day and consume it at night versus selling it back to the utility.

The rise in Electric Vehicles (EV) also plays a major factor in the purchase of batteries to allow for vehicles to charge overnight.

There’s one more often-overlooked factor driving solar purchases for homeowners: eliminating wasted energy.

“We like to remind homeowners that the cheapest and cleanest energy of all is that which you never consume,” said Bramson. “Most homes waste 10-20% of the energy they consume as a result of inadequate insulation, leaky HVAC ducts, and drafty doors and windows. Another 8-12% is wasted through suboptimal resident and appliance behavior — leaving lights and fans on, running wasteful appliances like small space heaters, and maintaining older appliances that lack energy efficiency. Solar providers like Elevation offer services that help eliminate home and resident energy inefficiency.”

Frequently Asked Questions About the Inflation Reduction Act

Do I qualify for the Inflation Reduction Act?

There are a couple of requirements you must meet in order to qualify for the Inflation Reduction Act. First, you must own the solar or battery system by purchasing it using cash, a solar loan, or a home equity investment, as you cannot use a lease or PPA financing to claim the tax credit. You’re also required to have an income tax liability, as this incentive was introduced to reduce it.

How long does a solar panel system take to install?

Most systems can be installed in a day or two, but you should factor in some extra time for the entire process, as you first need to be approved for financing and utilities, get the proper permits, etc.

How does the solar tax credit work?

In addition to meeting the stated criteria to qualify for the credit, you’ll need to file IRS Form 5695 along with your tax return to claim it. You’ll calculate the credit on Part 1 of the form, and input the result on your 1040.

In terms of financing, there are a handful of different ways to fund solar purchases — including designated solar loans that are widely available. However, they vary quite a bit in terms of fees, APRs, and timelines, so you’ll want to explore your different options. Home equity loans are also a popular choice, but since you’re taking out another loan on top of your mortgage, you’ll want to make sure you can handle additional monthly payments.

You can also access your home equity with a home equity line of credit (HELOC), which gives you flexibility in terms of amount and frequency of access. However, due to variable interest rates, monthly payments may fluctuate and be unpredictable, and your lender can freeze your HELOC at any time if your credit score drops too drastically.

Finally, a home equity investment (HEI) can give you access to your equity in cash relatively quickly in exchange for a share of your home’s future value. What separates a home equity investment from a loan or line of credit is that it isn’t a loan, and there’s no interest and no monthly payment. You can use the money for virtually anything you’d like. At the end of the effective period (or anytime before then), you buy out the investment with savings, a refinance, or the sale of your home.

With recent record highs in home equity and the revised tax credit, it might be the perfect time to make solar investments in your home.

Do you know how much equity is in your home today? Our free Home Equity Dashboard can help!

We do our best to make sure that the information in this post is as accurate as possible as of the date it is published, but things change quickly sometimes. Hometap does not endorse or monitor any linked websites. Individual situations differ, so consult your own finance, tax or legal professional to determine what makes sense for you.

Self-employed Virginia Couple Uses Home Equity to Consolidate Debt

How Paul and Sue Used Their Home Equity to Consolidate Debt and Boost a Business

Virginia homeowners Paul and Sue were looking for a smart way to consolidate their debt, which was distributed among various credit cards and personal loans. Since the couple is self-employed — Paul as a business owner, and Sue as a real estate agent — and don’t have traditional sources of income, they weren’t having much luck as they explored conventional loans and financing options due to the often restrictive application and approval criteria.

“Sometimes, the traditional outlets out there for home lending aren’t so friendly to customers like us,” explained Paul.

Living in the greater Washington D.C. area, Paul and Sue knew that they were sitting on a significant amount of cash in their home that could potentially help them get closer to financial freedom, but hadn’t discovered many great ways to access it thus far. That is, until they found Hometap one day while searching online.

A home equity investment seemed like it could be the perfect fit for them, especially once they learned that Hometap uses a unique model that is designed to provide an accurate financial picture of each homeowner and offer them the funding they need.

“We knew we had a lot of equity,” recalled Paul. “What set [Hometap] apart was really that there was no…red tape there; they have their own formula and calculation for how they help people that have equity in their homes.”

As a former mortgage professional himself, Paul has seen it all, so his standards for service were high — and he was especially impressed with the simplicity and transparency of the Hometap Investment process.

“I thought it was excellent. I’ve been doing this for a while; the process was very easy…” he remarked.

He also highly values communication, so this was a key factor that set Hometap apart from other options for him. “That was the best part,” said Paul.

He appreciated the element of personalization Hometap provides by pairing a dedicated Investment Manager with each homeowner to answer questions and provide support, as well as the focus on keeping homeowners informed throughout the entire experience.

“Really, there was also just one person that we dealt with the whole time. The communication was outstanding from our Investment Manager…every step of the way, [they] kept us in the loop.”

With the cash Paul and Sue were able to access through their Investment, they were on their way to reaching their financial goals and handling their debt in a matter of weeks.

“We were able to get the help that we needed to consolidate debt,” said Paul. “And we really appreciate the help that Hometap gave our family.”

The benefits didn’t stop there, though. Since there aren’t any restrictions on how the money from a Hometap Investment is used, the couple even had some extra funds that they can put toward another goal. “I own my own business, so having some money left over in this economy is going to help to jumpstart that,” said Paul.

And as financial and real estate markets become increasingly unpredictable and costs continue to rise, Paul and Sue appreciate that Hometap Investments are debt-free, so they don’t have to worry about any monthly payments or interest, either. “I think having no payments in this economy and the ability to use your equity…it’s the best option out there to help families,” said Paul. “It’s a pretty cool tool and product to have. I’d say ‘go for it.’”

Find out in less than two minutes if your home qualifies for a Hometap Investment.

*Disclaimers: This homeowner was compensated for providing Hometap with an interview about his Investment experience.

We do our best to make sure that the information in this post is as accurate as possible as of the date it is published, but things change quickly sometimes. Hometap does not endorse or monitor any linked websites. Individual situations differ, so consult your own finance, tax or legal professional to determine what makes sense for you.

Hometap’s Eugene Wong Named HousingWire 2023 Finance Leader

DALLAS, Texas — March 31, 2023 — HousingWire announced the winners of the 2023 HW Finance Leaders awards, recognizing the top finance executives in housing who are driving financial performance, expanding margins, improving liquidity and helping their businesses access the capital markets. This year, 30 honorees were recognized.

“The best CFOs and finance leaders really shine through in times of change and challenge,” said Clayton Collins, CEO of HW Media. “The ability to navigate complex financial landscapes, analyze data with precision, access capital at the right times and make strategic decisions is essential for success. These leaders have demonstrated a deep understanding of the market
and an unwavering commitment to excellence that is enabling their organizations to thrive regardless of the challenges ahead.”

This year’s HW Finance Leaders were selected by HousingWire’s selection committee based on their professional achievements within their organizations, contributions to the overall housing economy, client impact and personal success.

“The HousingWire Finance Leaders award is a testament to the hard work, dedication and expertise of these exceptional financial leaders. Their contributions are helping to transform the housing industry and create value for their organizations and customers alike,” HousingWire Editor in Chief Sarah Wheeler said. “This recognition is a true reflection of each honoree’s
talent, dedication and impact on our industry.”

The 2023 Finance Leaders list:
Pavan Agarwal
Gil Arbitsman
Jim Balas
Kelly Brink
Vincent Ciardullo
Mike Clear
Bryan Dipo
David Eakes
Alejandro Franco
Marco Fregenal
Brenda Hedeen
David Hisey
Andrew Hubacker
Mark Kearns
Amber Kramer
Mike Leone
Carmine “CJ” Napolitano
Stephen Nicolo
Sean O’Neil
Mary Rapoport
Michelle Ressler
Tom Rettinger
Sean Sievers
Vinay Singh
Kevin Thompson
Mike Wells
Don Wenner
Mike Witt
Eugene Wong
Chrissy Zotzman

See full company profiles on www.housingwire.com.

About HW Media
HW Media is the leading digital community for mortgage, real estate and fintech professionals to engage, learn and access the information they need to support decision-making and business growth. Aligned with our mission to Move Markets Forward, we publish daily news and content through each of our core publishing brands including HousingWire, RealTrends and Reverse Mortgage Daily. HW Media is based in Dallas, TX with team members across the country.

About HousingWire
HousingWire is the most influential source of news and information for the U.S. mortgage and housing markets. Built on a foundation of independent and original journalism, HousingWire reaches more than 125,000 newsletter subscribers daily and 1 million unique visitors each month and has more than 5,000 members and event attendees. Visit www.housingwire.com or
www.solutions.housingwire.com to learn more.

Lesley Collins
Program Manager // HW Media

2023 HousingWire Finance Leader: Eugene Wong

Wong embodies Hometap’s values of being a good owner by executing with intention, rolling up his sleeves and creating solutions for the company. Wong’s deep experience in the banking and financial services industries, combined with his business acumen and his passion for mission-driven performance and results that make a tangible difference in the lives of others, have positioned him as a force to be reckoned with in the finance world.

This article originally appeared on HousingWire. Read the full article here.

California’s Population is Shortchanged on Financial Literacy

In California, nearly 59% of residents are still recovering from the financial setback of the pandemic in the wake of its economically devastating disruption, according to Hometap.  Today, you may properly relate to the toll taking place in 2023 as the Fed fights to correct the current surge in consumer inflation flowing from the pandemic-driven stimulus bridge, etc.

While mortgage delinquencies in California reached a historical low between 2021 and 2022, they have reversed and are now climbing, up from November 2021:

  • 0.7% in Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim; and
  • 0.4% in San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, according to Core Logic.

This article originally appeared on firsttuesday Journal. Read the full article here.

Hometap Achieves Best Company Outlook 2023

Comparably’s annual Best Company Outlook list recognizes companies with the brightest futures, according to anonymous employee feedback submitted to Comparably.com over the past year. Rankings are derived from sentiment ratings provided by current employees about how confident they feel about the future success of their company, how excited they are about going to work each day, and how likely they are to recommend working there to a friend (referred to as an eNPS or employee Net Promoter Score). All ratings were provided from February 2022 through February 2023. Read Methodology

Hometap is honored to be included on this list.

This article originally appeared on Comparably. Read the full article here.

5 Characteristics to Consider to Choose the Right Neighborhood

aerial view of suburban neighborhood

When it comes to determining the best place for your family to live, there are a number of considerations (and opinions) to balance — but ultimately, it all depends on your personal priorities, values, and budget. Your decision should be one based on both head and heart: while you want to make your whole family as happy as possible, you also want to make sure you’re making a solid investment.

If you hail from the area you’re looking to buy a home in, you’re already at an advantage, since you’re more familiar with neighborhoods and might even have a clear idea of the streets where you want to house hunt. However, if you’re moving to a totally new-to-you city, it might be a bit more daunting. No matter what your circumstances, though, there are several factors to look at before you commit to a place.

1. Safety

Safety is one of the biggest and most important factors to consider in a potential neighborhood, especially if you have children. Fortunately, there are many websites that aggregate crime statistics in a given area so you can easily compare them before even visiting in person, including NeighborhoodScout, SafeWise, and SpotCrime.

When exploring potential streets, make note of the potentially less obvious — but still important — features, including the amount and placement of street lights and sidewalks. Conversely, you should keep an eye out for vacant or abandoned buildings or any other sights that feel unsettling or concerning as you look around. It’s also a good idea to drive around a potential neighborhood at night to get a feel for it at different times of the day.

One more consideration is whether your home is on a main road or on a side street or cul-de-sac, especially if you’re hoping to purchase a home with secluded backyard space for your children to play.

2. Schools

If you plan to or have children, school quality and proximity is another major factor that can make or break your choice of location.

It’s easy to see online, at a glance, how districts are performing and how large they are on Niche and GreatSchools, but it is often worth your while to connect with parents within the district(s) you’re researching to get their firsthand thoughts as well. And if athletics are of interest to your kids, take a look at the size and variety of the sports programs and how the teams typically perform.

3. Convenience

Think about your day-to-day routine and the types of conveniences you value. How close are grocery stores, hospitals, doctor’s offices, pharmacies, parks, and shopping centers? Are you near enough to highways if you need to quickly and easily access other cities, or see friends and family?

Most importantly, if you drive to work or take public transportation, time and map out your potential daily commute. Choosing an area that results in an hours-long drive or multiple train transfers won’t just cut time out of your day that you could spend with your family — and zap your energy — but it could cost you in gas and train tickets as well.

4. Price

Though safety, schools, and proximity to conveniences are the most important aspects when researching areas, you can begin shopping by price once you narrow down a neighborhood based on these criteria. It helps to get an idea of current median home values in the area, as well as property taxes, so you can more accurately and quickly assess what’s within the normal range and what properties might be overpriced as you shop around. Realty websites including Redfin, Zillow, and National Association of Realtors can help estimate home prices, as well as regional realty publications.

5. Any Other Important Features (to You)

Once you’ve addressed all of your must-have characteristics, think about miscellaneous preferences you or any of your family members might have. For example, do you have preferences on town water and septic versus private, an older versus a newer home, or planned future development in the neighborhood that could increase noise and/or traffic?

With some time, effort, and research, you can make an informed decision that everyone is happy with and land in the right neighborhood for your family.

Knowing your current home value can help you determine your budget for the next one. Do you know what your current home is worth? Our Home Equity Dashboard can help!

We do our best to make sure that the information in this post is as accurate as possible as of the date it is published, but things change quickly sometimes. Hometap does not endorse or monitor any linked websites. Individual situations differ, so consult your own finance, tax or legal professional to determine what makes sense for you.

Home Equity is the Bright Gem of the Housing Market

Unlock and an increasing number of other companies like it (such as UnisonPoint, HomePace, and Hometap) are part of an emerging business segment in the home-equity space that serves borrowers who may not want or qualify for a traditional home-equity product like a HELOC. Instead, they offer homeowners a product called a shared-equity contract or agreement in which homeowners are provided cash upfront in return for a share of the equity in their homes.

At the end of the contract period (10 years in the case of Unlock) the homeowner must settle the terms of the contract either through a direct payment, refinancing or the sale of the home.

This article originally appeared on HousingWire. Read the full article here.