Equity sharing, a fledgling concept that never managed to gain traction as a loss mitigation strategy during the housing crisis, is being reincarnated as an alternative to home equity loans and other second-lien mortgage products.

Real estate finance company EquityKey began offering homeowners cash in exchange for a share of the future price appreciation of their homes earlier this year. The founders of the San Diego-based company say they're acquiring "appreciation rights" from homeowners seeking to tap into their homes' future equity. Unlike a traditional mortgage where a borrower makes monthly payments and is charged interest, a homeowner in a shared appreciation agreement doesn't owe any money until the house is sold, with investors earning a return based on how much the property appreciated.

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