Here's what you need to know

Unison allows homeowners to access their home’s equity without debt. You might have questions, here you can find the answers.
Learn the basics
In which U.S. states is Unison currently available?

Unison HomeOwner is currently available in these states:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • District of Columbia / Washington D.C.
  • Wisconsin

We’re constantly working to bring Unison to more people. If we’re not yet available in your state, we encourage you to check back here often for updates or follow us on Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn.

Information about Unison

Unison is a San Francisco-based company founded in 2004, and since then we’ve been pioneering a smarter, better way to own homes. For the first time, homeowners have access to funding that is not tied to monthly payments or interest charges. With Unison HomeOwner, we unlock the equity in your home, allowing you to use the money for other expenses, with no payments to us for up to 30 years. We call it home co-investing. Making this possible is a team of financial and real estate professionals who are committed to re-inventing homeownership to give Americans more opportunity and flexibility when it comes to owning a home. We’ve helped over 7,800 homeowners optimize homeownership.

What is Unison’s business model?

Unison has pioneered a smarter, better way to own your home by co-investing in residential real estate. Until now, the main way to access your equity was to add on more debt. We provide homeowners an alternative by converting a portion of their existing home equity to cash without monthly payments. By sharing in the gains only if the home goes up in value, we strive to align with the interests of our homeowners and win together.

What is co-investing and how does it work?

Traditionally, accessing your equity meant taking out a loan that required monthly payments and added debt. Unison offers another way to do this by investing alongside you, providing you with a cash payment today in exchange for an option to share in your home’s future change in value. If the house goes up in value, we both win. If it goes down in value, Unison shares in the loss.

At the outset of your agreement with Unison, we’ll determine a starting value for your home by getting an independent appraisal, and then applying a 2.5% Risk Adjustment. From there we’ll make our co-investment, giving you money which you are free to use however you want for up to 30 years.

How much funding is available with Unison?

The most we can invest in a single home is $500,000, but most of our co-investments are less than that.

With the Unison HomeOwner program, we can provide up to 17.5% of the value of your home by unlocking your existing home equity. Unison’s minimum investment size is $30,000.

Of course, the amount we can invest depends on your unique situation. Please start an application to find out exactly how much we can provide you.

How is Unison's profit or loss calculated upon sale?

When you sell your home, you'll need to pay us the amount of our original co-investment, plus or minus our share of your home's change in value. Unison's share depends on how much we invested in your home to begin with.

If you choose to buy us out instead after your restriction period passes, we'll use an independent third-party appraisal to determine the fair market value of your property at the time. If you buy us out, Unison does not share in any decrease in your home's value.

To learn more about our agreement, click here.

What happens at the end of the agreement?

You can use the funds provided by Unison for up to 30 years. After 30 years, you will need to either sell your home or buy us out.

To buy us out, you would need to pay the amount of our original co-investment plus or minus our share of your home's change in value. We use an independent third-party appraisal to determine the fair market value of your property at the time.

In some cases, after 30 years it might be possible to refinance your home and use the proceeds to buy out Unison's investment. However, there is no guarantee that this option will be available.

To learn more about our agreement, click here.

If I partner with Unison, who owns the home?

You own the home! You control the property and receive the benefits of home ownership, such as occupancy rights and income tax deductions. Unison is not an owner and has no rights of occupancy. Rather, we share a portion of the future change in value of the home, as an investor. We secure our investment the same way traditional lenders do, without becoming in any way co-owners of your home.

To learn more about our agreement, click here.

How do I know if I can trust Unison?

Founded in 2004, we are A+ rated with the Better Business Bureau, have been featured in USA Today, Forbes, and other publications. And we have now helped people from California to Massachusetts as we are rapidly changing the way our clients finance their homes.

We pride ourselves on our education process which ensures that all our clients understand how a Unison home co-investment works.

Where does Unison’s funding come from? Who are your investors?

We seek “patient capital” content to invest in your home for up to 30 years with no monthly payments. Our funding primarily comes from institutional investors, including pension funds and university endowments.

In what situations would Unison not be the right option?
A Unison co-investment is a unique home financing product that presents a great solution for some people, but it is not the right fit for everyone. First and foremost, Unison is designed for long-term use—a Unison co-investment is not right for you unless you plan to stay in your home for at least five years. Many of the co-investment’s best features, including Unison’s agreement to share in any loss of home value alongside you, only kick in after five years. For more information, please see the FAQ entry on the Unison “Restriction Period.”

Unison HomeOwner is typically for homeowners who live in the home. Additionally, though a Unison co-investment is not a loan, it is also not compatible with certain kinds of loans. Reverse mortgages, interest-only loans, shared appreciation loans, or any loan with a negative amortization feature won’t work alongside Unison.

How title to your home is held can also affect eligibility. Typically, Unison can only offer co-investments to homeowners who hold their homes as individuals and joint tenants, not tenants-in-common or other forms of holding.

Finally, Unison customers may experience constraints when attempting to refinance their mortgage once they have taken a co-investment from Unison. We recommend that customers who are interested in refinancing their home loan do so before choosing to work with Unison—please see the FAQ entry on refinancing for more information.

Like we said, Unison is unique, and so are you. If you're interested in learning if you and your home qualify, please feel free to apply.
What happens if I don't properly maintain my property and its condition deteriorates?

During the term of your agreement with Unison, you are required to maintain your property in good condition, subject to normal wear-and-tear.

If you do not, when the agreement ends the value of your property will most likely be less than it would have been if it had been properly maintained, and this would not be fair to Unison. When this is the case, a Deferred Maintenance Adjustment may apply when performing the settlement calculations.

Since the loss in value would be due to your failure to maintain the property, the Deferred Maintenance Adjustment allocates all of the loss in value due to improper maintenance to you, so that Unison does not share in it.

One or more appraisals, inspections or repair estimates obtained from independent third-party providers are used to determine the amount of the Deferred Maintenance Adjustment.

Unison is committed to a fair process to determine the amount of the Deferred Maintenance Adjustment. In a rare instance in which we are unable to agree in good faith on the amount, the issue will be determined through arbitration.

More detail about the Deferred Maintenance Adjustment can be found in the Unison HomeOwner Program Guide.

To learn more about default situations, click here.

Can I buy out Unison's investment in my home?

Our goal is to give you as much flexibility as possible. Unison allows you to request a Special Termination (buy out) after the first five years. We’ll use an independent third-party appraisal to determine the market value of your property at that time. Then you’ll pay us the same amount you would have paid if you had simply sold your home for its appraised value.

The biggest difference between selling your home and buying us out is that Unison will not share in any loss in your home's value when you buy us out.

Learn more about special terminations here.

What if I make home improvements?

We believe that if you make improvements to your home (beyond regular maintenance) that boost its value, you should get all the benefits. That’s why we use a tool called a Remodeling Adjustment.

To qualify for a Remodeling Adjustment, you need to work with licensed contractors and fully document the project. We then use an independent appraiser to determine how the work changed the value of your home, making sure you receive full benefits. Keep in mind that some renovations add more value than others and some don’t add any new value at all. Whenever you are thinking about a project it is always a good first step to reach out to our team. It’s important to note that the Remodeling Adjustment doesn’t apply if you end the agreement in the first three years.

What is the five-year "restriction period"? Can I sell my home at any time?

Since your home is yours, you are always free to sell it at any time during your agreement with us. However, Unison co-investments have a restriction period during which some features will not be available.

Sharing in the losses if you sell: In the case you wish to move in the first five years, the transaction would proceed as usual except if the home’s value has gone down. If that happens, Unison will not share in the loss and you would owe the full value of the Unison co-investment, regardless of the loss in home value.

Special Termination or "Buying Out" Unison: You cannot buy out the Unison agreement in the first five years.

Remodeling Adjustment: Unison will not share in the value you add via remodeling projects. However, you are eligible for a remodeling adjustment only after the third anniversary of your Unison agreement.

Note: Some agreements are only subject to a three-year restriction period on loss sharing and Special Termination. Check with your Unison representative to see which Restriction Period applies in your case.

What happens when I decide to sell my home?

You can sell your home at any time. Whenever you choose to sell, you'll need to notify Unison and send us copies of certain documents related to the sale -- such as appraisals, inspections, title reports, etc. When your sale of the home closes, you will pay Unison the amount you owe us from the escrow.

Since Unison's funding is not intended to be short-term financing, we cannot share any loss in the value of the home if you sell it within the first three years (in some rare cases the waiting period is five years).

What happens if there is a foreclosure?

Because we want the best for our shared investment, we see foreclosure as a last resort. If you’re ever unable to make payments on your mortgage, we may issue "Protective Advances," which are funds that keep you current and help you avoid default. You would have to pay these advances back when the home is sold.

Unison may also offer you something called an Orderly Sale to prevent your home from going to foreclosure and becoming a "distressed" property. This may help protect your home's value, and your credit as well. Of course, Unison does retain the right to foreclose on your home in situations where you have not met the obligations of our agreement.

What happens if I get behind on my mortgage payments? What happens if I default?

Unison technically has the right to foreclose on your property to protect its investment, similar to a lender. But we would much rather see you stay in your home. That's why we will always give you a chance to fix any default. As an investor in your property, we share your desire to protect the equity in the home. In certain circumstances, if you are facing foreclosure by your lender, we might work with you to sell your home in an orderly "non-distressed" fashion which would maximize the sale price, protect the equity in the home, and preserve your credit.

Who decides when our partnership ends? Can you force me to sell my house?

You always remain the sole owner of your property and can decide to sell your home at any time. After 30 years, you will need to either buy out Unison’s investment or sell the home.

If you ever find yourself unable to make your mortgage payments, Unison may work with you to find a resolution that is best for everyone, which could include the sale of your home.

Advanced Topics
Why does Unison require a home appraisal and is it accurate?

A home appraisal is a report from a qualified professional that estimates the value of a home. When you buy a home, you will usually hire an appraiser to visit the home, review its condition and characteristics, find comparable properties that have recently sold in the area, and provide both you and the seller of the home with a fair estimate of its value.

At Unison, we require home appraisals to provide an accurate valuation for your HomeOwner agreement. To obtain an unbiased valuation, we use Appraisal Management Companies (AMCs).

AMCs are far-and-away the preferred means for obtaining appraisals in real estate transactions. They provide a “firewall” between financial institutions and appraisers, as required by federal guidelines. If you would like additional information about AMCs and their position in the real estate industry, please see this page on the FDIC website.

Please also note that the appraisal may return a value that Unison is unable to invest in. In those cases a Unison co-investment may not be available for you.

Note: after an AMC provides appraised value for your home, Unison applies a 2.5% Risk Adjustment to account for appraisal uncertainty, and to deliver your co-investment more quickly.

Costs of Appraisals
In addition to our standard 3.0% transaction fee, customers who take a co-investment from Unison are responsible for the cost of their home appraisal. (There is no appraisal fee for customers who choose not to work with Unison). If you happen to have a recent appraisal that meets some standard criteria, let us know and Unison will consider using that one instead.

What is the Risk Adjustment and how does Unison determine my home’s starting value?

If both you and Unison accept the value from your appraisal, we will then reduce that value by a 2.5% Risk Adjustment. The resulting value is called the Original Agreed Value.

Original Agreed Value = Appraised Value - 2.5%

For example, if your home has an appraised value of $400,000, your Original Agreed Value will equal $390,000. This 2.5% adjustment to your home’s appraised value helps account for the uncertainty inherent in the appraisal process. It also allows Unison to deliver your home co-investment faster and without the added costs of multiple appraisals.

Is it possible I could end up owing Unison back less money at the end than I received at the beginning?

Yes. Because Unison is a co-investment rather than a loan, we are invested in your home alongside you, and we win and lose together. Though such cases are not common, with significant decline in your home’s value (something neither of us are looking for!) it is possible that the value of our co-investment, and your ending amount due to Unison, would be $0. It’s this feature along with the absence of any monthly payments that distinguishes a co-investment from a loan.

What is the Owner Occupancy Requirement?

Unison's HomeOwner program is typically for homeowners who live in the home.

In order for your home to qualify as an owner-occupied property, you must live in the home for at least 180 days out of every 365-day period and must never be away from your home for 60 consecutive days.

Unison does not generally invest in rental properties because they frequently suffer more wear and tear than owner-occupied homes, and therefore carry additional risk.

What kind of properties are eligible?

Our programs are currently designed to invest in your owner-occupied, primary residence. This can include single-family homes, townhouses, and condominiums. In some cases, we invest in second homes or rentals, and are happy to have you give us a call to see if your home or property qualifies. Properties held in certain trusts and LLCs may not be eligible.

Prior to partnering with us, you can input your address – with no obligation – to see if your property qualifies. Simply click here to get pre-qualified.

How does Unison affect my taxes?

Unison is not a tax advisor and does not provide tax advice. We always recommend that you consult with your tax advisor for personalized advice, and we are certainly happy to speak with him or her directly.

We believe that under current tax law, a homeowner entering into a Unison HomeOwner Agreement should not have to pay taxes on the cash we provide you. Please contact us if you have further questions.

If I choose Unison HomeOwner, can I still refinance in the future?

You can refinance, but there are restrictions. If you have an existing mortgage or if you obtain a new one, your Unison agreement will be a form of subordinate financing. It’s likely that some mortgage lenders will decline to provide new loans to you because you have subordinate financing from Unison. In particular, lenders that make loans conforming to Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac guidelines may decline your application, as these guidelines do not allow subordinate financing that shares in equity or home appreciation. If you are considering refinancing your mortgage in the near future, you may wish to do so before taking out a Unison home co-investment.

Also, it is important to understand that, as part of the agreement, we will set something called the Maximum Authorized Debt Limit. This is a limit to the total amount of debt secured by your house.

This limit is set based on your home value and financial situation at the time of your agreement. It is a fixed amount and does not adjust upwards as your home appreciates in value.

If you need another loan secured by your home while you’re part of our agreement, you must stay under your Maximum Authorized Debt limit. The Unison co-investment itself does not count towards the limit – remember, our program is not debt!

What does Unison need to know in order to determine whether they will invest in my home?

We evaluate credit, income and your property, all of which can be done without any financial obligation to you or impact to your credit.

  • Information about you. We look at your credit history, income, and other factors prior to partnering with you.
  • Information about the home. We also need to evaluate the home prior to partnering with you. Usually, the home needs to be your primary residence and must meet several other criteria for us to invest.
What percentage of the future change in the home’s value will Unison share?

Unison's percentage share in the home's future change in value varies with the amount of your co-investment. With Unison HomeOwner, Unison's share is typically four times the percentage we invested. For example, if we invest 10% of the current value of your home, we will receive 40% of the future change in value of your home.

For a more detailed example, visit our interactive total cost calculator.

Am I allowed to rent my property in the future?

Typically, Unison only invests in owner-occupied property.

Unison’s standard pricing is for owner-occupied properties; However, special pricing may be available for the non-owner occupied property.

Please contact us to discuss your situation.

What if something happens to me during my agreement?

If you pass away during the term of your agreement and you are not survived by anyone else who is on the agreement, then your heirs or estate will be required to settle the Unison agreement, after a 180-day grace period.

Since your home does not automatically pass to heirs who are not signatories to the agreement, it’s important that you discuss your decision to enter into the Unison agreement with your heirs so that they understand the effect it could have on your estate.

What are the costs associated with Unison?

For the Unison HomeOwner program, Unison will deduct a 3.0% transaction fee from your co-investment at closing.

Additionally, you are responsible for third-party costs such as appraisal and settlement costs (including title, state taxes, and recording fees). Appraisal fees generally range from $450 to $1,250 and settlement costs range from $700 to $1,750, depending on your area. Your exact costs will be provided to you prior to closing.

If you choose not to work with Unison, you will not be responsible for any fees. Additionally, Unison pays any cost of credit reporting and for your home inspection report, as applicable.

How does Unison secure its interest in the property?

We place a lien on your property. If you currently have a mortgage, our lien will be in second position.. The document we use for this lien is very similar to what a mortgage lender would use to secure its investment in your home. We also record what’s called a Memorandum of Agreement which gives public notice of our interest in the property.

To learn more about the structure of our agreement, visit here.

Do you have to check my credit? When does that happen?

Yes. However, this does not impact your credit score. As part of our qualification process, we use what's known as a "soft" credit pull to access your credit report. It does not affect your credit score. This usually happens when you submit the application. If you don’t qualify for a Unison co-investment you will receive an “adverse action” letter from us explaining that decision, and that letter may reference information found in your credit report. However, this never means that we have used a “hard” credit pull, and your credit will not be affected.

Also, over the lifetime of our agreement, we will use soft credit pulls to ensure that you are continuing to meet the terms of our agreement. Again, this will not affect your credit score.

What is a Deferred Maintenance Adjustment?

When you partner with Unison, you agree to keep your home in good condition and do routine maintenance as needed. For example, you would be responsible for ensuring that there are no leaks in the roof, that interior and exterior paint is not chipped or cracked, that electrical outlets and heating or cooling systems are in good working order, in addition to all other maintenance.

If you fail to do routine maintenance, that could affect the value of the home whenever you choose to sell it. In that case, Unison would use a Deferred Maintenance Adjustment to determine what the home’s value should have been. Unison’s share would then be calculated based on this adjusted sale price.

To learn more about the mechanics of our agreement, visit here.

What if the house has a Shortfall?

In some rare cases, the proceeds of your home sale might not be enough to pay the sum of the selling costs plus the remaining balance on your mortgage and the amount you owe Unison. Usually, this only happens when your home has lost value and you haven't yet built up very much equity through monthly mortgage payments.

If this happens, you are still responsible for paying the amount you owe Unison.

How does Unison document my property?

To evaluate and document your property, Unison will order an appraisal report and in some cases a home inspection report as well.

Then, after closing your co-investment with Unison, we will send out a small team to capture aerial photos of your property. We take this measure to complete the documentation of your property, as these photos provide higher-quality exterior documentation and superior local context than is available from your appraisal, which could be of particular use in the event of a natural disaster or other significant impact to your home. You are more than welcome to meet the FAA-licensed pilot on site, though your presence is not required.

Your appraisal information and aerial photography will be available inside your personalized online portal you can log into anytime.

Does Unison share in selling costs?

No. When you sell your home, you'll be responsible for those costs, just like you would for any other home sale.

However, you should know that Unison's programs do not add any extra costs at the time you sell your home.

Does Unison benefit from the equity that is built as I pay down my mortgage?

No! The equity you build with your monthly payments belongs to you. We share in the change in the value of the home over time. For example, if the Original Agreed Value of your home is $500,000 and you sell it ten years later for $600,000, we will share a percentage of the $100,000 change in value.

What do I need in order to qualify for Unison HomeOwner?

Generally speaking, applicants need a mid-FICO score of at least 620. Depending on credit score, loan-to-value (LTV) and debt-to-income (DTI) guidelines vary. Applicants with excellent credit can have a maximum LTV of 75%. The allowable LTV and DTI goes down as credit score goes down.

In order for us to evaluate your specific situation, we would need you to submit an application.

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