What we like:
Our highest-rated equity sharing company
|State eligibility||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, Wisconsin, and Washington, D.C.|
|Minimum credit score||620|
|Investment amount||$30,000 – $500,000|
|Term length||30 years|
Unison is an investment company that offers homeowners money in exchange for a portion of their home’s future change in value. It was founded in 2004 and is currently available in 29 states and Washington D.C.
Unison is just one of the many companies offering home equity sharing agreements. Use the following Unison review to see if it’s the right fit for your needs.
In this review:
- How does Unison work?
- How does Unison determine how much to invest?
- How do the terms of the agreement work?
- Are there any costs?
- Pros and cons
- Customer reviews and ratings
- Eligibility requirements
- How to apply
How does Unison work?
Unison is an equity-sharing company. It invests up to 15% of your home’s current value and then gives you that amount in cash. In exchange, Unison obtains an option to purchase a percentage of your home’s value, so if your house appreciates, Unison stands to earn more. If your house loses value, Unison loses out, just like you.
Your agreement with Unison is settled by either buying them out or selling your house and giving Unison a portion of the proceeds before the 30-year term ends. Refinancing can often be an option as well.
Unison’s product is different from traditional home equity products, which come with interest and often require monthly payments. Many homeowners use equity sharing to pay off high-interest debts or to cover home repairs or other large expenses.
How does Unison determine how much to invest?
The exact amount you’ll receive depends on the appraised value of your house, the balance of your mortgage, and financial factors such as your credit score and income. The company says it evaluates both the homeowner and the property before investing.
Unison will pay anywhere from $30,000 to $500,000. The maximum investment is 17.5% of your home’s value.
How do the terms of the agreement work?
You have up to 30 years to “settle” your Unison home equity agreement. This means either 1) buying them out or 2) selling or refinancing the house to pay off Unison’s share of the value.
Here’s how this would work in each situation:
- Buying Unison out: Pay Unison back the original payment amount plus their share of your home’s change in value. Unison requires an appraisal to determine this number. Unison does not share in any loss in value during special terminations, so the ending value will always at least equal the original appraisal value.
- Selling: In this scenario, you’d sell your house and repay Unison out of the proceeds from the sale. Again, this would be the original investment amount plus their share in your home’s change in value.
- Refinancing: Refinancing might be an option if you have a large equity stake in your home and can qualify for a cash-out refinance. In this situation, you’d refinance into a mortgage loan larger than your current balance, take the difference in cash, and pay Unison with those proceeds.
While you technically have 30 years to settle with Unison, there is a five-year “restriction period” to be aware of. Under this policy, Unison will not share in any loss in value if you sell within the first five years of your agreement.
Are there any costs with a Unison investment?
The biggest cost of Unison is the profits you’ll lose if your home appreciates in value. According to the company’s FAQs, “Unison’s share is typically four times the percentage we invested.” That means if they invest 10% of your home’s value, they’d be due 40% of any appreciated value once you sell.
Home values have risen considerably over the last decade. The typical home sold for $221,100 at the end of 2011, and when 2021 closed out? That number climbed to $408,100—a jump of $187,000. In this hypothetical scenario, the company would have:
- Paid $22,100 for 10% of the home’s value in 2011
- Received $96,900 ($22,100 + $74,800 (40% of $187,000)) if the home sold in 2021
Aside from that profit loss ($74,800 in the above scenario), there are additional costs that come with using Unison as well.
These include the following:
- A 3.9% transaction fee
- Appraisal fee (usually between $650 and $1,050)
- Settlement costs (between $700 and $1,750)
Many of these fees vary by market. You can use a site like Home Advisor to get an idea of what they might cost in your area.
Pros and cons of a Unison home equity shared agreement
As with anything, there are advantages and drawbacks to sharing your home equity with Unison. Here are the ones you’ll want to consider before moving forward:
No monthly payment or interest
Large payment amounts are available
No limits to what you can spend the money on
Unison shares in the depreciation if your home loses value and you sell after the restriction period
You could lose out on a significant amount of appreciation
You generally can’t rent out your home during the term (only owner-occupied homes qualify)
Several third-party fees
Not available in every state
Customer ratings and reviews
Unison isn’t the only home equity sharing company out there, so before you choose to partner with them, it’s important you compare your options—on fees, on payment amounts, on eligibility requirements, and, most importantly, on customer reviews. Here’s how Unison reviews measure up:
|Better Business Bureau||4.4 out of 5|
|Trustpilot||3.9 out of 5|
As of February 24, 2022.
Considering complaints is important as well. For example, the Better Business Bureau has received 45 complaints about Unison over the last three years. On Trustpilot, nearly 20% of customers say their experience was “bad.”
When going through Unison reviews, make sure you’re referencing ones focused on Unison’s home equity sharing product. Unison also offers a homebuying program called Unison HomeBuyer, so you may find Unison HomeBuyer reviews mixed in from time to time.
Unison eligibility requirements
With Unison home equity sharing, there are several requirements, both for your property and you as the homeowner. Here’s a look at what you’ll need to qualify, as well as how this measures up to other popular home equity products.
|Unison||Home Equity Loan||HELOC|
To qualify for Unison, your home will also need to be: owner-occupied; a single-family house, townhome, or condo; and located in one of the 30 markets Unison operates in. These markets include:
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- Washington D.C.
If you need more flexibility or are not located in one of these states, a home equity loan or HELOC may be a better option. These tend to be more widely available and can also be used on investment properties and second homes.
How do I apply with Unison?
If you’re interested in using Unison, the first step should be getting an instant estimate. To do this, you can click here and enter your address in the white rectangle under “The smarter way to tap into your home equity.” You then click “Get an instant estimate.”
You’ll next need to enter your name and contact info. From there, you’ll get a custom estimate based on your home’s current value. It should say, “[Your name], unlock up to $XX of your home equity with no monthly payments, ever.”
You’re then given the option to proceed with the full application process. This involves
- Entering your contact information, birthday, income, and other personal details
- Confirming that your home is your primary residence and agreeing to a “soft” credit pull
- Adding details about your home and address
- Uploading documentation, which includes income verification documents as well as documents that prove you own the home you’re seeking an equity-sharing agreement for
- Agreeing to an appraisal and, in some cases, a required home inspection
- Receiving your offer, which you can then review, accept, and schedule a closing date for
If the offer is to your liking, Unison will work to schedule your closing. However, according to the company, the entire process, including the appraisal, usually takes about a month. How Unison compares to other companies
How Unison compares to other companies
Our evaluation focused on eight categories: eligibility, investment amount, fees, buyout flexibility, buyout cost, the application process, benefits, and customer reviews.
In the table below, we’ll break down how Unison scored in each category. If Unison, didn’t receive the highest score in a given category, we’ve included an alternative company that scored equally or higher to help you compare your options.
|Category||How it Compares||Alternative|