By Lauren Rosales-Shepard, Content Writer
At Unison, we’ve long considered ourselves privileged to empower homeowners to achieve financial freedom and wellbeing by helping them tap into their home equity. We are now beyond thrilled to announce that we have had the recent honor of sharing our passion about helping homeowners on a global stage! Innovate Finance commissioned BBC StoryWorks to produce their “Wired Differently” series, which features Unison as one of the fintech companies who are doing groundbreaking work to help make finances more manageable and accessible for people across the world.
The series debuted on April 17, 2023 at the 2023 Innovative Finance Global Summit, during which short films highlighting each fintech premiered, and representatives from the companies fielded questions on a panel. Our own VP of Marketing, Helene Ton Anderson, represented Unison on the panel and reported that there was keen interest in when Unison might be available to homeowners outside of the United States!
We pioneered the equity sharing agreement as a single solution to two problems: on the one hand, homeowners who had built up equity in their homes couldn’t unlock it without taking on debt; additionally, investors struggled to obtain efficient, diversified access to the lucrative residential real estate asset class. In an equity sharing agreement, the homeowner is offered up to 17.5% of their home’s current value in cash, in exchange for a percentage of the house’s future change in value. There are no monthly payments, and no interest, which means that homeowners can build a solid financial foundation without piling on debt. Instead, they have the option of buying out their agreement either when they sell the home, or in 30 years. This arrangement opens up a slew of possibilities for homeowners: they can renovate their home, start a small business, rid themselves of debt, diversify their financial portfolios, or prepare responsibly for retirement.
The effects of enabling homeowners to reach and maintain financial wellness aren’t merely limited to those individual households–they bleed out into the wider community and economy. On the most basic level, less consumer debt means more purchasing power, and that increased purchasing power is favorable for growth on a much larger scale. But granting homeowners access to their equity without the exposure inherent in loan products also combats issues like the senior housing shortage by offering seniors a way to pay for needed renovations to age-in-place or otherwise subsidize their retirements.
For example, the short film about Unison spotlights Easan Katir, a homeowner who discovered Unison’s equity sharing agreements when he was researching ways to start financially preparing for retirement. He describes how he knew his family’s home had appreciated, but the traditional option didn’t appeal to him because they all demanded monthly payments and interest. With the funds released from the Unison Agreement, Katir declares, “We aren’t obsessing about money.” Instead, his family feels secure in the firmness of their financial foundation for the future.
In the same video, Theodor Haugen, Vice President of Customer Experience, celebrates Unison’s ability to witness homeowners accomplishing things “they just weren’t able to do before.” He further emphasizes, “We’re not talking about wealth locked up at the top here; we’re working with normal people, normal Americans.” As the retirement age rises and an inability to prepare for it increases, the average American is in need of more options. Unison is positioned to help.
BBC Storyworks was asked by Innovate Finance to produce the short films for each of the companies; watch the full video about Unison below: