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 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.

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.

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 and are happy to have you give us a call to see if your home or property qualifies.

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

Learn more – Unison HomeOwner

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 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.

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.

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.

Settlement Requirement Upon Death

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.