Figure Review: The Fastest Way to Tap Home Equity?

I received a letter in the mail the other day from a fintech company called “Figure” that claims it can approve me for a home equity line of credit (HELOC) online in five minutes.

Better yet, they can fund the thing in as little as five days, assuming I’m able to use their remote online notary and that five-day period doesn’t include a weekend or holiday.

You can thank their 100% digital application for that, along with their proprietary blockchain solution known as “Provenance,” which is also being used by Caliber Home Loans, an unaffiliated lender.

It all sounds lightning fast, so let’s learn more about Figure to determine if they could be a good solution for those looking to tap their home equity.

Figure Calls It the Fastest HELOC on the Planet

One of Figure’s taglines is “Fastest HELOC on the Planet,” which sounds pretty darn quick.

We know they promise to get you approved and funded fast, which is great if you need cash ASAP for say, pressing home renovations, but speed isn’t everything.

The underlying product also has to provide good value relative to similar offerings in the marketplace. It also has to make sense to take one out in the first place.

Most homeowners are aware of home equity products, with the most common and popular probably the home equity line of credit, or HELOC for short.

The Figure Home Equity Line is kind of a hybrid of two products, the HELOC and the home equity loan, though in some instances it may just act like a home equity loan.

How the Figure Home Equity Line Works

  • Apply online in minutes and get funding in as quickly as 5 days
  • Full loan amount is drawn at closing and deposited in your bank account
  • Cash can be used for anything you wish, home renovations, pay off debt, bills, etc.
  • Interest rate is fixed for the entire term, which can vary from 5-30 years
  • Can make additional draws as you repay the initial draw

As noted, we need to learn more about the product itself before making a verdict. Here’s how this thing works.

After approval, which promises to be fast, you receive the entire amount of your initial draw.

So if you request $50,000 from Figure, they give you the full $50,000 at closing.

They also tack on the loan origination fee, which in the example on their website is 3%. So your left with $51,500 because it’s financed as well.

But this fee can apparently range between 0-4.99%, so you may not have to pay anything.

From there, you get anywhere from 5-30 years to pay back the outstanding balance, depending on the term you choose.

How the Figure Line of Credit Is Unique

Figure compare

It differs from a traditional HELOC in that the rate is fixed, more similar to a closed-end home equity loan.

And you take the entire loan amount out at origination, which again is more like a home equity loan than a HELOC, which usually has a small (or no) minimum opening draw amount.

Another difference is that the Figure Home Equity Line is an open-end product that features a draw period, like a HELOC.

As you repay the initial draw, you can take additional draws up to 20% of your original loan amount, which is the initial draw amount plus the origination fee.

These subsequent draws must be at least $500, but cannot exceed 20% of the total loan amount or the available limit on your line.

If you take subsequent draws, the interest rate at the time of the draw applies to each draw and is fixed as well.

The interest rate is based on the prime rate at the time of the draw, plus a fixed margin, which likely varies based on your loan parameters, such as credit score, occupancy type, LTV, and so on.

These additional draws will not extend your loan term, though they can only be taken 2-5 years from your origination date, depending on the term of your loan.

Some Issues to Consider

One downside to a home equity loan is you may not need all the money right away, yet you’re borrowing it all anyway. With a traditional HELOC, you can draw only what you need over time.

So if you have an immediate need, you pull out X amount of cash at that time, as opposed to paying interest on it even when it’s just sitting there.

The downside to a HELOC is that it has a variable rate tied to prime, so you don’t get the security of a fixed interest rate.

Figure’s rate is fixed, even though it’s tied to prime, though rates can vary if you take additional draws and the prime rate has gone up or down since origination.

The gotcha with Figure is that the origination fee is based on the initial draw, which can be quite large depending on your chosen loan amount.

So you’d really only want to take out what you need today, not what you might need. This differs from HELOCs, which are often opened just as an emergency credit line, and may never be touched.

Ultimately, you probably want to compare Figure’s product to other home equity loans because you may never actually use the additional draw feature.

If you can find a home equity loan with no origination fee and a low, fixed interest rate, it may be more competitive.

Figure Home Equity Line Key Facts

  • Loan amounts from $15,000 to $150,000
  • Available on single-family homes and townhouses
  • Property can be primary residence, second home, or investment property
  • Minimum credit score is 600
  • Maximum LTV is 95%
  • Loan terms of 5, 10, 15, and 30 years
  • Only fee is an origination charge of 0%-4.99% of initial draw
  • No annual fee, prepayment penalty, or early closure fee
  • Discount for using AutoPay to make monthly payments
  • Figure has a 4.8/5 Trustpilot rating

Figure Now Offers Mortgage Refinances Too

Figure has since expanded into mortgage refinances as well, offering conventional financing on single-family homes and townhomes.

The property has to be owner-occupied at the moment, though that may change in the future.

The minimum FICO score accepted is 640, the max LTV is 80%, and the loan amount must be at or below the conforming loan limit for your county.

They only offer a 30-year fixed product currently, but you can take cash out up to $500,000.

Like their home equity product, it’s a 100% digital application that they say can be completed in around 10 minutes thanks to automated income and asset verification.

In terms of cost, they charge a 1% loan origination fee, which is common, though not all mortgage lenders charge such as fee.

Where Is Figure Currently Available?

At the moment, you can use Figure in most states, but there are still a few locations where they’ve yet to break ground.

For Figure home equity lines, the following 38 states (plus Washington D.C.) are live: AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, KS, LA, MA, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SD, TN, VA, WA, WI, WY.

While they promise more states to come, they’re missing Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and West Virginia.

When it comes to mortgage refinances, they’re live in 32 states, including: AK, AL, AZ, CA, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MI, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, OH, PA, SD, TN, WA, WI, WV.

States that are missing include Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia.


Do You Qualify for Treasury Down Payment Assistance?

A home of your own could be within your reach.

It’s spring, and some renters’ thoughts may turn to home buying. Then reality hits: Between paying off student loans, paying rent, and keeping up with other bills, they haven’t saved for a down payment.

Renters cite down payments as one of the biggest roadblocks to homeownership. So, if you’re a low- to moderate-income home shopper in California, Florida, Rhode Island, Tennessee, or Kentucky, you’ll want to pay close attention. These states (and a few others) have Hardest Hit Fund (HHF) money available from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, which helps eligible buyers with down payment assistance (DPA).

Each state DPA program has income, credit score, occupancy, property value, and location requirements. But they share a common goal: revitalizing hard-hit communities.

“Our goal is to stabilize the neighborhoods and housing markets in Tennessee that have not recovered as fast as other areas across the state,” says Ralph M. Perrey, executive director of the Tennessee Housing Development Agency, which offers $15,000 in down payment assistance to draw home buyers to 55 ZIP codes across the state.

Innovative offerings

Housing agencies in 18 states and the District of Columbia have been administering HHF money since 2010. Participating states were chosen either because they struggled with unemployment rates at or above the national average, or they experienced home price declines greater than 20 percent since the housing market downturn.

In the beginning, programs focused on homeowners in some type of mortgage distress. “Now, to help these communities, we’ve developed programs for other issues we face,” says Cecka Rose Green, communications director at Florida Housing Finance Corporation.

Florida, California, Oregon, and Michigan have made HHF available to seniors who can’t pay property charges on their home equity conversion (reverse) mortgages. Illinois is now using HHF to help underwater homeowners refinance to more affordable loans. And several states have launched HHF DPA programs.

Florida’s $188.4-million HHF DPA program has assisted 7,481 first-time borrowers across 11 targeted counties. Borrowers can request up to $15,000 for down payment, closing cost, and prepaid assistance toward a home purchase.

“With the housing market improving, helping people buy homes is strengthening demand in hard-hit areas, stabilizing home prices, and preventing future foreclosures,” says Green.

“These agencies are being creative and resourceful in working with the Treasury to continue to serve their markets,” adds Mark Spates, a Fannie Mae director. Fannie Mae is the leading purchaser of loans underwritten by state housing agencies.

When the money runs out

States have until the end of 2020 to spend HHF money — but how they allocate funds varies from program to program.

The Arizona Department of Housing has a $76-million Pathway to Purchase DPA program, which has helped more than 2,600 buyers in 17 targeted cities.

But on March 29, 2017 — approximately 12 months after launch — Pathway to Purchase ran out of money, and the agency will not refund it. However, buyers can still apply for DPA from the state’s self-funded program, notes Dirk Swift, homeownership programs administrator for the Arizona Department of Housing.

Don’t wait!

California, Florida, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Kentucky, and a few other states still have HHF DPA money for renters hoping to buy — for now.

“We’re not in a situation where we’re about to run out of DPA funds,” advises Green. “But they’re going pretty fast.”

If you plan to purchase in an HHF state or want to learn more, contact your state housing finance agency, or visit the Hardest Hit Fund website to learn about local opportunities.

Looking for more information about mortgages? Check out our Mortgage Learning Center.

Top photo from Zillow listing


Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.


The Three (Tragic) Lives of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin House

Frank Lloyd Wright is undoubtedly one of the most influential architects of all time. The American architect was born and raised in the Driftless Area of Wisconsin, which left a lasting impression on his young mind and inspired many of his most iconic works. 

At the age of 29, in 1896, Wright built a windmill on the Taliesin estate, on land that belonged to his mother’s family. The project, requested by his aunt, was the first in a series of developments that over the years became part of the 600-acre Taliesin estate as we know it today. 

Wright would return to his homeland of Taliesin in 1911, under more controversial circumstances.

In the early 1900s, Wright was married to Catherine Lee Tobin, had six children, and was living in Oak Park, Illinois. He was then tasked to design a house for his friend and neighbor Edwin Cheney, when he fell in love with his friend’s wife, Mamah Borthwick Cheney. In a daring and controversial move, the two lovers ran off to Europe, where their affair flourished, and when they returned to the U.S., they wanted a place to call their own, far from the judgmental eyes of the public.

That’s when Frank Lloyd Wright decided to leave his Chicago family behind, return to his roots and build a house for himself and Mamah in the secluded hills of Taliesin. 

Taliesin I — the “love cottage” with a harrowing story

Taliesin I, as we now call it, was completed in 1911 near Spring Green, Wisconsin, to serve as the home of Wright and Borthwick. The home/studio that Wright created is the quintessential representation of the architect’s Prairie School design. 

Wright described the 12,000-square-foot house as ‘low, wide, and snug,’ and that’s exactly what it is. The house, which was named after the Welsh bard Taliesin — and translates into ‘shining brow’ — was the result of Wright’s attempt to blend man-made structures and materials with nature and the elements. 

taliesin the home of frank lloyd wright
Taliesin I, courtesy of the Utah Department of heritage & Arts

The house had an open-space design, with windows placed so that the sun could come through in every room at every point of the day. All the materials used in the construction were locally sourced, in an effort to seamlessly integrate the house with its surroundings. 

Wright was a big fan of Japanese culture and architecture, and he was inspired to bring a taste of Japan to Taliesin, as well. The architect’s home included an artificial lake stocked with fish and aquatic fowl, a water garden, as well as a ‘tea circle’ in the middle of the spacious, green courtyard. 

The home that Wright built was stunning, and to this day it remains one of his most beautiful creations.

The beauty of Taliesin, however, did not do much to impress those living in nearby communities, who disapproved of Wright’s relationship with Borthwick. At the time the couple lived in Wisconsin, Borthwick had divorced Cheney, but Wright was still married, as Catherine Tobin refused him a divorce. Due to the scandalous aspect of their relationship, locals and media dubbed Taliesin ‘the Love Cottage.’ 

Taliesin, courtesy of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

Nonetheless, the couple lived happily at Taliesin, joined by Mamah Borthwick’s two children and a number of household workers and employees.

Among those employees were Julian Carlton, a handyman and servant, and his wife Gertrude.

In 1914, the 31-year-old worker started acting strangely, becoming more and more paranoid and staring out the windows holding an axe. Given his strange behavior, Wright and Borthwick decided to let the couple go, and they gave Carlton and his wife notice in mid-August.

The events that followed the next day, on August 15, 1914, were so shocking that Taliesin will unfortunately forever be associated with them. 

Taliesin interior, courtesy of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

That August day, while Wright was away on business, Julian Carlton attacked Mamah Borthwick and her two children, ending their lives. He then turned against the other members of the household, after which he set the house on fire.

His killing spree ended the lives of Borthwick, her two children, as well as two other workers and their young boy. Following the attack, Carlton hid in the basement’s fireproof furnace, and swallowed hydrochloric acid in an attempt to end his own life. Somehow, he survived, and he was arrested and taken into custody.

While awaiting his trial and sentencing, he died of starvation, as the acid he swallowed had burned his esophagus to the extent that he could no longer eat. Carlton’s wife was luckily not in the house at the time, as she was waiting for her husband to join her on a train to Chicago.

SEE ALSO: How the Sharon Tate Murder House on Cielo Drive Shed Its Sordid Past — Movie Tie-in with Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

Taliesin II

Taliesin I was, in large part, destroyed, and Frank Lloyd Wright was left heartbroken, losing the love of his life and the beloved home that they shared. He was so devastated that he couldn’t even bring himself to hold a vigil or a formal funeral for Borthwick, instead burying her in an unmarked grave in a nearby graveyard. 

However, Wright soon got back on his feet and decided to rebuild Taliesin. By the end of 1914, he had built Taliesin II, and had found companionship in Miriam Noel, who sent him a condolence letter after that summer’s massacre. 

Taliesin, Saturday August 17, 2013. / © Mark Hertzberg via Wright in Wisconsin

Wright, however, only settled in at Taliesin II in 1922, after he finished work on the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. He was finally granted a divorce by Catherine Tobin, and married Miriam Noel in 1923. The marriage, however, was doomed to not last, as Noel’s erratic behavior, later diagnosed as schizophrenia, led to a tense relationship between her and Wright. 

Noel eventually left Wright and moved out of Taliesin II in 1924. One year later, in an eerie turn of events, Taliesin II burned to the ground due to faulty wiring, and Wright was back to square one. However, like a phoenix, Taliesin would rise from the ashes once again.

Taliesin III

the tragic story of taliesin frank lloyd wright house
courtesy of Taliesin Preservation

Even after two fires tried to destroy his work, Frank Lloyd Wright was not ready to give up on Taliesin, and he rebuilt it once again, as Taliesin III.

Each time the architect had to revamp Taliesin, the house grew bigger. In its third and final form, Taliesin featured 37,000 square feet, and all the buildings on the estate combined totaled no less than 75,000 square feet on 600 acres of land. 

courtesy of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

The third reconstruction of Taliesin did, however, create a pretty big dent in Wright’s pockets, and he was severely in debt at the time work on Taliesin III was finished.

In 1927, the Bank of Wisconsin foreclosed on the property, and the architect moved to La Jolla, California, forced to leave his beloved hill-top home behind.

His fans and students, however, devised a plan to have the revered architect reunited with Taliesin. Darwin Martin, a former client of Wright’s, formed a company dubbed Frank Lloyd Wright Inc., to issue stock on the architect’s future earnings. Various other clients and students purchased stock, and ended up successfully bidding on Taliesin for $40,000, giving it back to Wright. 

Thankfully, the innovative design and historic importance of Taliesin were recognized by Wright’s clients and admirers, and the efforts to preserve and keep the estate alive paid off.

In January 1976, Taliesin was named a National Historic Landmark District by the National Park Service. More than three decades later, Taliesin was one of the buildings included in The 20th Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring a selection of eight buildings designed by the architect across the U.S. 

[embedded content]

Today, Taliesin is a historical and architectural gem, and Frank Lloyd Wright fans can visit the estate on professionals, guided tours. If you’re an architecture fan, a student or design aficionado and you’re ever traveling near Spring Green, Wisconsin, you don’t want to miss out on the chance to visit Taliesin. 

Feature image courtesy of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

More architectural wonders

The House that Zaha Hadid Built: The Story of the Only Residence Ever Designed by “The Queen of the Curve”
This Perfectly Preserved Mid-Century Home in Palo Alto Was Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright Student Aaron Green
Ernest Hemingway’s Iconic House in Key West Stands Tall and Mighty After 168 Hurricane Seasons
Exquisite Birge Clark-Designed Mansion on the Market in Palo Alto


Earnest Review | Student Loan Refinancing

Reader Interactions

full disclaimer and complete list of partners.