Petaluma’s Ygrene gets ‘substantial investment’ to move beyond financing tied to home property taxes

Petaluma’s Ygrene gets ‘substantial investment’ to move beyond financing tied to home property taxes

Update, July 20, 9:37 a.m.: Ygrene just announced that the previously reported “substantial investment” is coming from two of the Sonoma County-based company’s original investors, Lightyear Capital and Virgo Investment Group.

The amount wasn’t disclosed, and a spokesman for the privately owned company had told the Business Journal on Tuesday that it wouldn’t be.

The new capital would help Ygrene expand residential and commercial financing nationwide, Ygrene said in the Wednesday news release.

Ygrene is approved as a commercial property assessed clean energy, or C-PACE, capital provider in 31 local government programs in 29 states and Washington, D.C., the company said.

As part of Ygrene’s move beyond residential PACE financing, the company said it recently expanded its residential options by partnering with third parties to offer unsecured home-improvement loans nationwide.

One of those partners, as noted on Ygrene’s website, is Even Financial. It describes itself as a New York-based financial technology company founded in 2014 that handles over 9 million consumer financing applications monthly.

Additionally, Ygrene said it is its Florida residential financing business, which is on course for a second consecutive year of higher volume.

On the cusp of announcing an infusion of capital and a shift in expansion plans for its alternative ways to pay for energy-related property upgrades, Ygrene has made an unspecified number of job cuts, including at its Petaluma headquarters.

“To concentrate on new areas of growth for the company required some restructuring,” company spokesperson Morgan Hook told the Business Journal on Tuesday evening when asked about reports from local employees of layoffs. Hook declined to say how many jobs are affected.

That restructuring is coming on the heels of an undisclosed “substantial investment” Ygrene plans to announce more details Wednesday morning that are part of this “largely positive” “new strategic vision” for the company going forward, Hook said.

That is set to include an expanded portfolio of residential project financing, including the launch nationwide of home-improvement loans in addition to the company’s mainstay method since its founding — financing tied to property-tax senior liens.

“At Ygrene, we are dedicated to making it possible for property owners to upgrade and protect their most valuable asset – their home or business. We’re thrilled about the opportunity to provide new and innovative products and services to better serve their needs,” said Jim Reinhart, president and CEO, in a statement.

Ygrene administers these property-assessed clean energy (PACE) programs for local governments in California, Florida and Missouri, the only three states with active residential PACE programs. Ygrene operates the commercial program (C-PACE) for Fulton County, Georgia.

Residential PACE programs have come under regulatory scrutiny in recent years after claims from some homeowners that it wasn’t made clear that not making payments for projects could result in a foreclosing on the home. That has led to reforms by California and other states.

Ygrene plans to expand further into C-PACE programs, Hook said. Because such financing is secured by commercial property investors, it hasn’t drawn much attention from regulators.

Jeff Quackenbush covers wine, construction and real estate. Before coming to the Business Journal in 1999, he wrote for Bay City News Service in San Francisco. Reach him at [email protected] or 707-521-4256.