SAN FRANCISCO — November 18, 2019 — Unison, North America’s leading home co-investment partner, released its 2019 Responsible Investing Report last week, developing a framework to measure its investments made in 2018 against its ESG goals and policy.
The report outlines progress on sustainability goals and develops metrics to measure progress on these goals. Notably, the company reports that homeowners paid off $55M in other debts thanks to investments by Unison in 2018.
“This is why equity financing should have always been available to homeowners, as it has been for other asset classes,” said Thomas Sponholtz, CEO of Unison. “A combination of debt and equity enables homeowners to get back in control of their finances,” he said. The report notes that median FICO scores for Unison’s 2018 HomeOwner customers increased by 18 points on a sustained basis over a 3 to 6 month period.
Due to lack of standardization in ESG reporting for its space, Unison leveraged research to develop metrics it believes are applicable for this industry. For example, one of the most significant factors in determining the environmental impacts of real estate is location, with urban housing reducing the fragmentation and development of greenfield areas. Accordingly, Unison cited the fact that its company made 100% of its investments in urban areas in 2018, discouraging suburban sprawl and its profound effects on environmental sustainability.
In addition, the report shows that 13% of Unison’s 2018 investments utilized a renewable energy source, compared with just 2.7% of US housing on which solar panels have been installed. Per the report, buyers in the US are willing to pay $15,000 more on average for homes with an average-size solar array.
The reporting developed for Unison investors shows the company’s aim to take a leadership role in transparency and responsibility within its industry, while acknowledging current limitations of these initiatives. “In the development of Unison's ESG reporting we recognize the infancy of sustainability as a finance subject matter,” Unison reports. “We look forward to continuing to analyze, assess, and improve upon our sustainability measures over time.”
The report can be found here: Corporate Responsibility Report