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Small business owners are turning to their home equity to fund their expenses, a trend that has increased dramatically during the pandemic.

A provider of home equity lending alternatives, Hometap, said it made more than three times as many dollar investments with its small business owner customer base in the first quarter of this year compared to the three months of 2021, increasing the rollout to approximately $8.5 million from $2.3 million. Since 2018, the Boston-based fintech has helped small business owners with more than $30 million in home equity transactions.

Hometap’s investment product allows customers to tap into the equity in their home in exchange for a percentage of the future value of the property. Unlike small business loans or home equity lines of credit, no interest or required monthly payments are required for 10 years, the company said.

“It goes without saying that the past two years have been incredibly difficult for everyone, and business owners have shown incredible strength and resilience in the face of countless challenges,” said Jonathan MacKinnon. , vice president of product strategy and business development at Hometap, in a press release.

Small business owners likely relied more on their home equity to stay afloat than other consumers in the first year of the coronavirus, when many were forced to close for months, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. While small business owners take out home equity lines of credit, or HELOCs, more frequently and have higher balances compared to the general population to begin with, the bank’s researchers found that the difference was even dug in early 2020.

Average HELOC balances among small business owners rose 3.4% between February and May 2020, even as they fell 0.6% among other borrowers. The average HELOC balance had been declining overall for several years before the pandemic began. The following months also revealed that small business owners lagged other borrowers in paying off their balances by around 4% between May 2020 and March 2021.

The U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy estimates that about 32.5 million businesses with fewer than 500 employees were operating nationwide at the end of 2021, up from 31.7 million a year earlier. Between 1994 and 2018, the five-year survival rate for small businesses was 48.8%, while 33.6% lasted at least 10 years.

Hometap is one of many startups offering consumers the opportunity to tap into the equity in their property to arouse the interest of venture capitalists during the last years. Between December and January only, fintech obtained more than 300 million dollars in financing, while others new businesses also entered space in the previous eight months. Additionally, earlier this year, Unison released what it claimed was the largest securitization home equity bonds.

Growth in alternative home equity lending segment coincides with rapidly rising property values, with nearly $9.9 trillion in drawdown at the end of last year, according to Black Knight data . Other sources have estimated that the value of homes has increased by nearly 20% on an annual basis in the first quarter.

Following its recent capital acquisition, Hometap has expanded its presence, launching operations in South Carolina and Nevada in April, bringing the number of states in which it does business to 18.