A new business led by a trio of Indian Americans promises to deliver a less stressful and time-consuming method to closing on a new home.
Co-founded by Abhijeet Dwivedi, Laks Srini and Hari Viswanathan, ZeroDown aims to give people the “ultimate flexibility around owning” a home, according to Dwivedi.
“Buying a home shouldn’t dictate your lifestyle,” Dwivedi told India-West in an email. “It should fit into your lifestyle.”
The idea of ZeroDown came in 2017 when Dwivedi, a graduate of the BHU Institute of Technology (bachelor’s in engineering) and the University of Pennsylvania (master’s in computer science), and his wife were in the market to buy a home in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The couple was constantly running into roadblocks, he notes, adding, “Everyone knows this market is crazy, and it’s only getting harder and harder to find a home.”
So, the former chief strategy officer at Zenefits teamed up with Srini and Viswanathan to work towards creating ZeroDown, which they officially launched June 11, following a beta program. During the beta phase, the founders selected a group of customers who were able to purchase a home through the platform.
“Our vision is to give people the power to purchase a home and freedom and flexibility around owning it,” Dwivedi told India-West. “Buying a home has become more of a life milestone than a financial obligation – we want homeowners to think of their home as a flexible asset instead of a fixed cost.”
With ZeroDown, which to date has raised $30 million in funding from investors including Sam Altman and Goodwater Capital, users can pick any home for sale, move in, and get five years to close. Additionally, they can apply for qualification to know their buying power; automatically build down payment every month; and use the down payment built to buy within five years.
The platform, according to Dwivedi, is best for people who are thinking about buying a home, but don’t have a down payment.
“For example, you may be actively paying off student loans and have fewer savings despite a high paying job,” the co-founder noted.
It may also be for those looking for flexibility. ZeroDown lets you move out without the hassle of selling the home, it says.
Or, the platform may be best for someone looking for more time, more assistance and more empowerment to prevail in this tough market, Dwivedi said.
And it may also be best, Dwivedi added, for those who don't want to lock-in a sizeable portion of their net-worth in a home and would like to diversify their investments.
Though it’s unclear how many people are using the service, Dwivedi noted that growth has been almost entirely word of mouth, “demonstrating the need for an alternative to traditional homebuying here in the Bay Area.”
ZeroDown, which now only operates in the Bay Area, also guarantees from downside and unlimited upside with regard to the value of the home a user moves in to the five-year mark.
The company website notes that “you are completely protected from any volatility in home prices by locking in the price at which you can cash out your purchase-credits. If home prices fell in value, you would still be able to cash out your earned purchase-credits at the original purchase price, unlike with a traditional mortgage, where your loan might be under water.”
Additionally, it says, “You are completely protected from any volatility in home prices by locking in the price at which you can buy your home from us. If the home prices have had runaway appreciation and is now worth a whole lot more than you locked in price, you will still be able to buy the home from us at the predetermined purchase price which would be at a discount to market rate.”