How ZeroDown Works

Find out how easy it is to buy the home of your dreams

How it works

We look at your full financial picture to figure out how much house you can afford.
Find the home you want working with a top agent to guide you in your search (if you have your own agent already, great -- we’re excited to work with them).
For just a $10,000 program fee, we make a cash offer on your chosen home, which makes your offer stand out from the crowd.
Congratulations! We close the deal and hand you the keys.
Make the same payment each month to ZeroDown. Every payment you make, around 37% of the rent is converted to purchase-credits that accrue over time and can be used to buy your home in as little as 1 year.

Have a question or want to learn more?

Frequently Asked Questions
You've asked. We've answered
About Zerodown

What is ZeroDown?

ZeroDown is creating a new pathway to home ownership in areas of the country where it's very expensive or even cost-prohibitive to buy a home. We've started with the toughest place of all — the San Francisco Bay Area.

Most people rent because there's no other choice. But it's a dead end. Every month, you pay just to stay in place. And every year, the rent increases, and you pay more for the same. Meanwhile, home ownership drifts away as saving gets harder and home prices keep going up. We've been there. We founded ZeroDown to give people something different.

A ZeroDown Home is the happy middle ground between renting and owning. We buy the home you want. You move in, pay us a monthly amount that stays the same, and build Purchase Credits in your home each month.

What are Purchase Credits?

With each monthly payment, you'll earn Purchase Credits, which add up to a percentage of your ZeroDown Home's price. It's like cash back on your rent. Every month, your rent will feel smaller

Plant your roots, and watch it grow

Earn 15% of the Home's price

by the end of year 5

But you can buy your ZeroDown Home from us even sooner than 5 years from now. Anytime after 1 year, you can opt to buy it, using your Purchase Credits. Now that you've earned some of the home price, a mortgage with a low or no down payment becomes much easier.

Want to keep your options open? After 1 year, if you decide you'd rather not buy your ZeroDown home and move out instead, we give you half your accrued Purchase Credits in cash, based on the original purchase price of the home, no questions asked. For example, if we bought a $1 million home for you and you decide to leave right after your 3 year anniversary, the cash amount would be $45,000, subject to applicable taxes.

Is ZeroDown a loan?

No, ZeroDown is not a lender and you are not getting a mortgage. We buy the home and you make monthly payments, building towards ownership with each payment. Anytime after 1 year, you can buy the home from us the traditional way, but the down payment requirement should be much easier since the purchase price of the home will be partially covered by the Purchase Credits you've built up.

How do I build towards ownership with ZeroDown?

You build towards ownership with the Purchase Credits you earn while living in your ZeroDown Home. Your monthly payment will feel much smaller than it is, because each month you'll also be building Purchase Credits that can be cashed out or applied to the purchase of your ZeroDown Home.

In which areas of the country does ZeroDown operate?

ZeroDown currently operates in the San Francisco Bay Area and Greater Seattle Area.

ZeroDown is currently available for the San Francisco Bay Area in Alameda County, Contra Costa County, Marin County, Santa Clara County, San Francisco County and San Mateo County.

ZeroDown is currently available for the Greater Seattle Area in Island County, King County, Lewis County, Kitsap County, Mason County, Pierce County, Skagit County, Snohomish County and Thurston County.

Not in your area? Tell us where you want ZeroDown to come next by requesting us.

How does ZeroDown make money?

ZeroDown makes money by splitting buy side commissions with our partner agents, as well as from its one-time program fee.

Your approval process

How do I qualify for ZeroDown?

To apply, first sign up and qualify by linking your bank account(s) and providing proof of assets and income. This allows us to confirm your income and get a picture of your finances. We then work with you to determine your buying power.

Does qualifying for ZeroDown affect my credit score?

No. The qualification process only requires a soft credit check, which won’t ding your score.

Do I need a down payment to qualify?

Absolutely not. We didn’t choose the name “ZeroDown” for nothing!

What information do I need to provide to ZeroDown?

When you get qualified, we ask you for a few pieces of basic information and to link us to your bank and credit card account(s), which gives us an understanding of your finances. If we happen to need any other information, we'll reach out to you.

How long does the qualification process take?

Once you complete your qualification application, we will be in touch with you within 48 hours.

What can I afford in the Bay Area?
Choosing your home

Can I choose any home available or do I have to choose a home from ZeroDown’s inventory?

You are free to find your home however you'd like. Shop online using our home search engine, or any other search engine, or work with one of our top-rated ZeroDown partner agents who intimately know the area that you wish to live.

Who pays the closing costs?

ZeroDown takes care of the closing costs associated with the purchase of the ZeroDown Home.

Can I use my own agent?

We think you'll have a great experience working with one of our partner agents, because we've already identified some of the best in the Bay Area who have long track records and a deep knowledge of various neighborhoods. That said, we’re happy to work with your agent if you'd prefer that.

Your ZeroDown monthly payments

What are my upfront costs and when are they charged?

Whenever you'd like us to make an offer to buy the home you want, we're due a one-time program fee, which is $10,000. Once our offer is accepted, we take care of all the other closing related costs of buying your home.

If the offer is not accepted, we refund the program fee.

How is my monthly payment calculated?

Your monthly payment is based on the value of the home you select and will not change for 5 years. This is the only monthly payment you'll ever make to ZeroDown for the home until you buy it. No hidden costs and no hidden fees, ever.

What is the breakdown of my monthly payment?

The monthly payment is the monthly rent for the property, and we've designed ZeroDown to give you great value for what you pay us. You'll get:

  • Purchase Credits every month, which will make your monthly payment feel much smaller, because they can be partially cashed out if you leave your ZeroDown Home, or applied to the purchase of your ZeroDown Home
  • A house you could not otherwise live in
  • A super-powered buying process: all cash offers, a deeper home search engine that you can tune to quality of life factors, and keys to your ZeroDown Home in as little as 7 days from the offer
  • A dead simple financial process: no closing costs, no debt, no financing uncertainty, no hidden fees and one monthly payment
  • A concierge service that makes the experience of running your home one-click easy
  • A rewards program that gives you discounts and cash back for purchases made with us after you're in your ZeroDown Home

Do I need to pay property taxes or buy home insurance?

No. ZeroDown handles property taxes and home insurance. You do need to obtain renter's insurance though.

Do I need to pay the monthly HOA dues?

Yes. That said, we'll deduct it from your account along with your monthly payment and take care of making regular payments to the homeowners association on your behalf.

Who is responsible for home maintenance costs?

ZeroDown is the middle ground between renting and owning, so you'll run the show while you're in your ZeroDown Home and be responsible for maintenance. Repairs to the roof or HVAC are the exceptions covered by ZeroDown. Our concierge service is also available to help you find and book maintenance providers, making care-taking as convenient as traditional renting.

Buying your ZeroDown home

How do I buy my home from ZeroDown?

Anytime between 1 year and the end of your 5 year term, you can buy the home from us the traditional way, but the down payment requirement should be much easier since the purchase price of the home will be partially covered by the Purchase Credits you've built up. In 1 year you'll have earned 3% of your ZeroDown Home with your Purchase Credits, and 15% in 5 years.

The total price of your ZeroDown Home at the time you purchase it will be based on an independent appraisal, subject to a 3.3% annual increase from the original purchase price. For example, if we bought your ZeroDown Home for $1,000,000, then in 5 years, the purchase price will be the greater of $1,176,255 (3.3% annual increase) or the appraised value. You'll have earned 15% of that via your Purchase Credits, so if the price is $1,176,255, the idea is that you could then buy the house with a mortgage loan that covers 85% or less of that purchase price (it could be 80% for example if you also could pay in 5% to supplement the 15% Purchase Credits).

Click here to see a more detailed view of how ZeroDown works

Who owns the title to the home?

ZeroDown owns the title to the home until you buy it from us. At the time we buy your ZeroDown Home, you enter into two agreements with us:

  • A lease agreement, which covers the 1 year minimum commitment and 5 year term, your and our maintenance obligations, and some extra privileges you will have, such as the right to make improvements and renovations. The rest of the lease is on an industry standard form that's publicly available at places such as the SF Apartment Association and California Apartment Association websites
  • An option to purchase agreement, which covers the accumulation of Purchase Credits you earn and the right to buy your ZeroDown Home from us, using those Purchase Credits

Can I make improvements to my home?

Absolutely. This is part of the deal for giving you something in between renting and owning. You can generally make improvements or modifications to your home that won't do things that hurt both of us, such as impacting its structural integrity, reducing its value or damaging its landscaping. We just ask that you notify us and give us copies of plans and specifications.

Can I sublet or sublease my home?

No, your ZeroDown Home must be your primary residence, and you cannot sublet or sublease a portion or your entire home. However, you may do "hosted" short-term rentals (e.g. hosted Airbnb) in your home, to the extent permitted by, and subject to, local laws, rules, regulations and restrictions, and the rules, policies and procedures of any applicable rental platform. Please talk to your ZeroDown Concierge to learn more about the process. In any event, your ZeroDown Home must remain your primary residence at all times.

Who pays closing costs when I decide to purchase the home?

That’s the great thing about partnering with ZeroDown—no closing costs for you! You’ll only be responsible for costs associated with your own mortgage—simple, transparent and no surprises!

What can I afford in the Bay Area?