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Founded in 2004, Unison offers home equity agreements (HEAs) to homeowners who wish to cash in on up to 17.5% of their home equity. In exchange, Unison will have a claim to the future value of your home. While Unison does not charge an interest rate or monthly payment, you will pay a 3% origination fee, appraisal fee and settlement cost.
- No monthly payment or interest charged
- 30-year term
- Not available in all states
- Additional fees
Unison offers an alternative to refinances and HELOCs with home equity sharing. Homeowners can access up to $500,000 of their home’s value without having to make monthly payments or getting charged interest.
Unison does not charge interest, so you don’t have to worry directly about mortgage rates.
Your Unison agreement is good for 30 years, at which point you will need to sell or buy back your portion from Unison. At any time, you are able to sell your home, but if it is within the first five years of the agreement, Unison will not share in any loss in value your home might have. After five years of the agreement, Unison will share the loss of value, and you are able to sell or buy back your portion at any time.
Unison’s application process is completely online and is not as demanding as going through the mortgage process. When you submit the application, the company will perform a soft pull on your credit to see if you qualify. Unison will never do a hard inquiry on your credit; instead, it continues doing soft inquiries throughout your agreement to ensure you meet credit standards.
Once your application is approved, you will receive an independent appraisal. Based on this appraisal, Unison will then apply a 2.5% risk adjustment. This means if your home appraises for $400,000, Unison will adjust it to $390,000 as the original agreed value.
You still own your home, but Unison will place a lien on your property. You will not be able to legally sell it without giving Unison its cut. Additionally, Unison can dictate certain terms; for example, in most cases, you will not be able to turn your home into a rental property while Unison still has the lien.
Carol, a ConsumerAffairs reviewer from Charleston, South Carolina, had this to say about their experience with Unison: "Can’t say enough good things about how responsive, kind, patient and knowledgeable my customer service rep was. … Now, my life, home and credit score have dramatically improved. I’m out of debt, my badly deteriorating home is good as new, and my daughter’s wedding paid for!"
Unison specializes in one product – home equity sharing agreements. Depending on your credit score and how much equity you have available, you can cash in on up to 17.5% of your equity. In exchange, you allow Unison to have a portion of your proceeds on the future value of your home – which could be a win or loss for them depending on market conditions.
Home equity agreements are an alternative to refinancing. Unlike refinancing, entering an HEA does not change your interest rate or your monthly payment. When you refinance your home, you can see your monthly payment go up or down, depending on your new interest rate and how much equity you convert to cash.
Applicants need a FICO score of at least 620. Your credit score will determine your loan-to-value (LTV) requirement. Applicants with excellent credit can have a maximum LTV ratio of 75%.
Unison only invests in owner-occupied homes, meaning you live in your home at least 180 days out of the year and are not gone from your home for more than 60 consecutive days. Unison will not invest in rental properties. It is also recommended that you plan to stay in your home at least five years after the agreement, since Unison will not share in any loss your home value has and will still require the full agreement value.
Signing up for a Unison agreement when you have more house than you can afford will not fix your financial situation.
Costs and fees
Upfront, Unison allows borrowers to access 17.5% of their equity without any monthly fees or interest. However, the process is not without fees. Expect to pay a 3% origination fee, appraisal fee and settlement costs. Appraisal fees generally range from $450 to $1,250, and settlement costs range from $700 to $1,750. If you end up not using Unison, you will not be charged any fees.
When considering if a home equity sharing agreement is the right choice for you, compare it with the closing costs and APR of a cash-out refinance, home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC).
- What is Unison?
Unison is a real estate investment company that allows homeowners to convert up to 17.5% of their equity into cash in exchange for a portion of a home’s future value.
- Is Unison legit?
Unison is a legitimate business founded in 2004 and based in San Francisco, California, and Omaha, Nebraska.
- Where is Unison available?
Unison is available in 29 states and Washington, D.C. Unison is unavailable in Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.
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I live in a million dollar house in an upscale community and was approved four months ago by Unison to tap into my home equity. I was promised the amount, got my home appraised and signed all the papers, in person, and now am told by the company that they've run out of money. "Market conditions" is their excuse. Their "communicators" who you can only reach by email because they refuse to answer their phones, are constantly posting "out of office" notices. The scam has wasted four months and many hours of my time with needless delays and excuses.
The help and individual attention I received from Unison was truly terrific! Can’t say enough good things about how responsive, kind, patient & knowledgeable my customer service rep was. He definitely inspired confidence and trust. Now, my life, home and credit score have dramatically improved. I’m out of debt, my badly deteriorating home is good as new, and my daughter’s wedding paid for! All due to Unison. Again, I couldn’t be happier and will remain ever grateful!
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