The REX Agreement: Capitalizing On America’s Real Estate Pessimism

Unsure about whether your home may see much appreciation over the next five years, and looking for some liquidity on your home equity? Then a REX agreement might be the solution for you.

What is a REX agreement? What it boils down to is an exchange of cash today for a share in the future appreciation (or depreciation) of your home. Let’s look at an example:

Say your home is worth $1 million today. You decide to take a payout from REX of $100k in exchange for a 40% stake in the future change in value of the home. Without getting into the more complicated parts about how REX structures their agreement to share in the appreciation or depreciation and get their original funds back, let’s consider three different options for sales price of the home after five years.
Sales PriceGain/LossHomeowner ShareREX ShareHomeowner GrossREX payoutHomeowner Net

If the homeowner sells for a larger amount, REX will keep a portion of the upside. If the homeowner sells for a break-even price, then the homeowner has been able to use the original $100k payout without any costs other than origination fees for the REX agreement. If the homeowner sells for less than the original appraised value, then REX will actually lose a portion of the original $100k payout it gave to the homeowner. In other words, REX only gets paid (other than a return of their payout) if the homeowner makes money.
While these scenarios may sound enticing as an alternative to using a loan, there are some other key factors to know about the REX agreement:
  • Appraisal value – REX’s appraisals will likely come in lower than the bloated appraisals we’ve come to expect in the past. REX requires 6 comps, twice the number of most residential appraisals, and is much more particular about ensuring those comps are actually good comparables for the property.

  • Owner occupation – Thinking of using a REX agreement to take some cash out of your home to go buy a new house? That’s a no go. Part of the agreement states that you will continue to occupy it as your primary residence.

  • Closing costs – Although REX started with few closing costs, typically paid by REX, they will begin charging a 3% origination fee within the next few weeks.

  • Home values – For the deal to work for REX, your home probably needs to be worth $350,000 or more. The average home price that REX has been funding is about $750,000, which is one of the reasons it has only ventured into 6 of the higher-priced states (California, Washington, Oregon, Illinois, Florida and Massachusetts). There are other states that REX anticipates coming online before the end of the summer, including Colorado, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey.

  • Five year timeframe – The REX agreement includes penalties for selling your home before five years have passed. The penalties are steep during the first year (25%), declining by 5% each year after that. After five years there is no penalty, but REX still shares in any gains in the home’s original appraised value.

  • Amount of equity – You’ll need to have at least 25% equity in your property, based on the REX appraisal, in order to qualify. REX will provide a cash payout of up to 13% of the value of the property, which would put the total value of liens on your property at a maximum of 88% (75% in loans and 13% in REX’s payout).

  • Inflation – With a timeframe of a minimum five years without penalties, inflation could likely add value to the home (even if the true inflation adjusted value of the home doesn’t change). In that scenario REX would be entitled to share in their portion of that gain.

On another interesting note, the big money behind REX & Co. is AIG. They are not only a major shareholder, but also the institution providing the bulk of the financing for the actual REX agreements. That ought to say something about what the “smart money” thinks about where the market is headed.

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