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This Unison review details how you can access your home’s equity without getting a loan. We discuss how the Unison HomeOwner plan works, the pros and cons of the program, and whether or not it’s a good fit for you.
Do you want to access your home equity? How’d you like to do it without taking out another loan?
Unison HomeOwner can help you do it. Through a process they call “co-investing,” this program allows you to tap into your home’s equity without acquiring another monthly payment.
Sound interesting? Let’s take a look.
What Is Unison?
Based in the San Francisco area, Unison is a real estate company that has been investing in owner-occupied real estate since 2004. Funding for their investments comes mainly from institutional investors like pension funds and university endowments.
The Unison HomeOwner program offers to help homeowners access their home equity without acquiring new debt. Unlike traditional home equity loans or HELOCs, working with Unison means you won’t have a monthly bill to pay. You’ll also avoid those pesky interest payments. Funding through Unison is currently available in 28 states and the District of Columbia.
Unison HomeOwner allows you to access up to 17.5% of your home’s value. You’ll receive up to $500,000 as a cash payment immediately. Use that money to fund home remodeling projects, pay off debt, or do anything else you’d like. You’re free to use the money for up to 30 years or until you sell the house, whichever comes first.
In exchange, Unison claims a percentage of the increase in your home’s value when you sell. The percentage of Unison’s claim is based on the size of the co-investment they make relative to your home’s current value. The larger the investment, the larger percentage they’ll claim on the growth. From what I can gather, Unison’s claim is typically about 4 times the percentage of your home value you fund. (More on that in a bit.) You also pay a 3% transaction fee upon funding.
Essentially, Unison is making an equity investment in your home. By providing your home equity funding, they invest in your home with you. If the value of the home goes up, they share in the increase. Should your home lose value, they make less money as well…although their return will never be less than the amount they funded.
Unison HomeOwner Availability
The Unison HomeOwner program provides current homeowners an opportunity to tap into their home equity in exchange for a share of the home’s increase in value upon its sale. As of December 2021, the program is available to residents of 28 states and the District of Columbia, including:
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- District of Columbia / Washington D.C.
Unison HomeOwner: Inside the Numbers
As I’ve already mentioned, Unison provides access to your home’s equity in exchange for a share in your home’s change in value upon its sale. According to their homepage, you can fund up to 17.5% of your home’s value through this program. Additionally, you are not allowed to dip below an 80% loan to value ratio, which is fairly standard practice for accessing your home equity.
Now for the hard numbers. From what I’ve found, Unison’s share is equal to 4 times the amount you fund, based on the percentage of equity you pull from the house. So, if you tap 10% of your homes equity, Unison claims a 40% stake on the increase of your home’s value from that point forward.
For example, if your home is worth $400,000 and you fund $40,000 (10% of your home value), Unison would claim 40% on the growth (or decline) of your home’s value at the time of sale.
That probably seems like a huge number, and it is.
With that said, there are some exceptions. If you use the money to fund a remodeling project, for instance, you can file what they call a “Remodeling Adjustment.” This allows you to retain 100% of the increase in value that is directly attributed to the remodel. This helps make the program more palatable, but that is still a huge chunk of money.
While you don’t have to make interest payments, trading a share of your home’s equity going forward could potentially cost you more than interest payments would have. It is extremely important that you run all of the numbers and carefully consider all of your options before moving forward with any type of home equity funding.
Advantages of Unison HomeOwner
Why choose Unison HomeOwner to access your home’s current equity? Here are a few of the most important benefits of going with Unison.
#1) It’s Not a Loan
Unlike home equity loans or HELOCs from a bank, funding through Unison does not come in the form of a loan. That means there are no monthly payments and you won’t pay interest. For somebody who despises debt, that seems like a pretty good thing.
On the other hand, you are exchanging a percentage of your home’s future value for securing the funds. Be sure that this makes financial sense before proceeding.
#2) You Have Flexible Options
One of the best things about Unison HomeOwner is that you can use the money for anything you want. That means you can use your home’s equity to remodel your house, pay off credit card debt, pay for college, or anything else you can dream up.
With that said, I always caution against using funding methods to supplement overspending. Don’t do it. As with any funding source, it’s super important that you don’t use this money to dig yourself an even bigger hole.
#3) Provides a Unique Way to Access Equity
Unison HomeOwner is unique in that it allows you to access your home equity without taking on more debt. As somebody who loathes debt, this certainly speaks to me. Of course, you’ll also be giving up a large chunk of equity moving forward, so there is that.
Unison HomeOwner Review: Other Benefits
- Buyout is Available – After three years, you have the option of buying out Unison’s claim to your equity. This is definitely something to consider if conditions are right.
- 30-Year Limit – With Unison HomeOwner, you have access to the funds provided for a whopping thirty years or until you sell the house, whichever comes sooner.
- You Own Your House – Although Unison retains a claim on the percentage of your home value’s growth, they are essentially a silent partner. The house is yours to do with as you please, provided you don’t let it fall into disrepair.
Disadvantages of Unison HomeOwner
Although Unison does provide a unique way to tap into your home equity, there are certainly some major issues to consider.
First and foremost, in exchange for the funding, you are giving up a substantial amount of equity in the growth of your home’s value. Now, if you want to bet against your home rising in value, that’s one thing. However, the growth in value could easily outpace the amount you would have paid in interest through a traditional HELOC or home equity loan. If that’s the case, you’re almost certainly losing money.
Additionally, you’ll need to pay a 3% transaction fee upon receiving the funding. That’s not unusual, but it could cost you quite a bit, depending on the amount you fund. You may also be required to pay for third-party fees as well.
Finally, you’ll need to keep good records of any remodeling projects you choose to do. By filing a Remodeling Adjustment, you can save a significant portion of your home’s appreciated value if the project directly adds to an increase in value of your home. You should also keep in mind that “value” is considered the fair market value as determined by an appraisal and is not based on the amount of money you spent.
Alternatives to Unison HomeOwner
Before making any financing decision, it’s always important to explore all of your options. While certain products are a great fit for some, they may not be the right move for you. Carefully consider the numbers before pulling the trigger.
Although Unison HomeOwner is unique in its approach, a more traditional approach could be more beneficial for your situation. Here are a few options to consider:
Home Equity Loan – This is a type of loan in which you receive a lump sum that is borrowed against the fair market value of your home. To repay the loan, you are required to make monthly payments, including interest fees, over a certain period of time.
Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) – This is an open line of “secured” credit which uses your home’s equity as collateral. Like with a credit card, you’ll have a credit limit. You’ll also be required to make monthly payments, including interest, on any balance you carry.
Cash-Out Refinance – With a cash-out refinance, you are refinancing a mortgage that you currently have into a larger loan. You then receive the difference between the two loans in cash. You’ll owe more on your home, but you’ll leave with cash in hand.
Who Might Consider Unison HomeOwner?
- Those needing money now who aren’t concerned about long-term gain. – If you need access to your home’s equity now and have no concern for long-term gains, Unison HomeOwner may be a good fit.
- Those betting their home value will decrease. – If you need cash and think your property value will decrease, this may be a good option. Of course, Unison has to believe that your home value will rise. You’ll also need to keep your home in good condition or Unison can claim more money based on a “Deferred Maintenance Adjustment.”
Unison HomeOwner Review: Final Thoughts
To be perfectly honest, I believe that tapping into your home’s equity – in any form – is rarely a good move. Why in the world would you want to pay back that money more than once? That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.
With that said, I know people are still going to do it. Unison HomeOwner provides another avenue.
If you need access to your home’s equity, need it quickly, and don’t care about forfeiting a percentage of your long-term gains, this could be for you. Likewise, Unison HomeOwner is a good option if you want to bet against a future increase in your home’s value.
Whatever you do, don’t pull the equity out of your home to supplement your overspending habits. You’ll simply find yourself further behind than you were before.
If you’ve run the numbers and feel like it works out in your favor, you can get prequalified with Unison HomeOwner here.
Thanks so much for reading my Unison HomeOwner review! Good luck and be sure to do your due diligence.
What do you think of Unison HomeBuyer? Let us know in the comments below!