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Home Equity Home Equity Investments

Unison Review: Access Home Equity Without Debt

3.8 /5
LendEDU Rating
Home Equity Investment
  • Receive up to $500,000 in cash
  • No payments for up to 30 years
  • Get an estimate in five minutes without impacting your credit
  • Available in more states than any of its competitors
  • Charges a 3.9% transaction fee
  • You must buyout its share with one lump-sum payment

Founded in 2004, Unison is a trailblazer in the home equity industry. It offers homeowners a unique opportunity to access their home’s equity without taking on debt. 

With Unison home equity sharing agreements, homeowners can tap into their equity for up to 30 years with no monthly payments or interest charges. Unison aligns with homeowners’ interests, sharing in gains if the home’s value increases and in losses if the value decreases.

Unison’s ideal customers are homeowners who plan to stay in their home for at least five years and who live in single-family homes, townhouses, or condominiums.

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What are Unison’s terms?

When evaluating potential borrowers, factors including loan-to-value ratio (LTV), home value, and credit score influence the amount of cash you can secure. 

  • Loan amounts: $30,000 to $500,000
  • Term length: 30 years
  • Repayment options: At the end of the term, you must either buy out Unison or sell or refinance the home to repay the amount you borrowed
  • Unique features: No monthly or interest payments; Unison shares in depreciation if your home loses value

What are Unison’s eligibility requirements?

PropertiesSingle-family homes, townhouses, condominiums
States30 states (listed below)
Max. LTV70%
Max. DTINot disclosed
Min. credit score620
Min. incomeNot disclosed

Unison is available in 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, the District of Columbia, and Wisconsin.

How do you repay Unison?

When you enter an equity sharing agreement with Unison, you’re exchanging a portion of your home’s equity for cash with no payments for up to 30 years. It’s an alignment of interests where you and Unison share in the gains or losses of your home’s value.

Now let’s delve into the specifics of how this repayment works.

After 30 years with Unison’s equity sharing agreement, you have two options: 

  1. Sell your home, at which point Unison will take its share of the proceeds. 
  2. Buy Unison out.

If you choose to buy out your agreement, an independent appraisal will determine the fair market value, and you’ll pay Unison the agreed-upon percentage of your home’s appraised value.

What is the restriction period?

While you can buyout Unison’s share at any time, there’s a restriction period for the first five years where the following are true:

  • Unison won’t share in the losses if you sell: If your home’s value decreases, Unison won’t share in that decrease. The ending agreed value won’t fall below the original appraised property value, and you must cover the initial payment plus any amounts related to the 5% risk adjustment.
  • Remodeling adjustment: Unison won’t share in the value added from remodeling projects during the restriction period. You become eligible for a remodeling adjustment only after the third anniversary of your Unison agreement.

How is the final payment calculated?

At the start of your agreement with Unison, it values your home through an independent appraisal, after which it applies a 5% risk adjustment—i.e., it reduces the value of your home by 5%. The resulting value is called the original agreed value.

Unison explains that the 5% adjustment helps account for any uncertainty in the appraisal process. If your home’s appraised value is $500,000, the original agreed value will be $475,000. 

Depending on how much equity you had in your home when you signed the agreement with Unison, you could borrow up to 15% of the $475,000 ($71,250).

Imagine you borrowed 10% ($47,500) of your home value from Unison. If your home’s value increases from $500,000 to $550,000, and Unison had a 10% share, you’d pay $52,500.

What is the remodeling adjustment?

You’re eligible for the remodeling adjustment after five years. This benefit allows you to keep the increase in home value that results from any home improvements you make.

Does Unison charge fees?

When you enter into a home equity sharing agreement with Unison, be prepared to pay several fees. These costs are transparent and include:

  • Transaction fee: Unison deducts a 3.9% transaction fee from your agreement at closing.
  • Third-party costs: You are responsible for specific third-party costs such as:
    • Appraisal fees: These can range from $450 to $1,250, depending on your area.
    • Settlement costs: These include title, state taxes, and recording fees, and they might range from $700 to $1,750. Unison will provide the exact costs to you prior to closing, so there are no surprises.
  • Cost of home inspection: Customers are also responsible for the cost of their home inspection. The inspection fees can range from $650 to $1,050. If you have a recent home inspection that meets standard criteria, you can discuss using it with Unison to save on this expense.

Does Unison have any control over my home or its condition?

As an investor, Unison shares in the future value of the home, but it doesn’t take ownership or control over the property, and it has no occupancy rights. You control the property and retain the benefits of homeownership.

Do certain home projects require permission from Unison?

Most home projects don’t require specific permission from Unison. However, if you plan to make significant changes that could substantially affect the value of your home, it may be wise to consult with Unison to understand how those changes might affect your agreement.

Can you renovate the home with funds from Unison or personal funds?

You can use the funds from Unison, or your personal funds, to renovate your home. Unison’s investment is tied to the home’s value, so renovations that increase the value of the home could affect the amount you owe at the end of the term.

Are you required to keep the home in any specific condition?

While your agreement with Unison is active, you must keep your property in decent shape, allowing for normal wear and tear. If you don’t, and the property’s value decreases because of lack of maintenance, Unison reserves the right to apply a deferred maintenance adjustment to determine the final settlement.

The adjustment places the responsibility for the loss in value on you, not Unison, because the loss is due to your failure to take care of the property. The amount of this adjustment is determined through appraisals, inspections, or repair estimates from independent third parties.

Are there any inspections during the term?

Unison doesn’t conduct inspections during the term of the agreement. However, you are responsible for any costs related to home inspection as part of the closing process.

Pros and cons of Unison home equity sharing agreements

Before making any financial decisions, we recommend considering all the pros and cons.


  • No monthly payment or interest

    Unison’s agreement provides access to your home’s equity without any monthly payments or interest, easing the financial burden on homeowners.

  • Shares in depreciation

    If your home loses value and you sell after the five-year restriction period, Unison shares in the depreciation, reducing your financial risk.


  • Restrictions on renting

    You can’t rent out your home during the term. 

  • Third-party fees

    These can include appraisal and settlement costs, adding to the overall expenses.

  • 5% risk adjustment

    This adjustment reduces your home’s value which could cause you to pay more than had you used the actual appraised value.

  • Buyout challenges

    Buying back your equity in full at the end of the 30-year term could require a significant amount at once.

  • Five-year restriction period

    Selling within the first five years means you’ll owe Unison its full original investment amount even if your home value depreciated in that time.

Alternatives to Unison

If Unison’s home equity sharing agreement doesn’t suit your needs based on the cons we listed above, other options may be available:

Unison concernAlternatives
Appreciation lossHome equity loan or line of credit (HELOC)
Renting restrictionsUnlock (competitor)
Third-party feesNo-fee personal loans
Limited availabilityHome equity loan or HELOC
Risk adjustmentHome equity loan or HELOC
Single paymentUnlock (competitor)
Credit requirementHometap and Unlock (competitor)
Restriction periodUnlock (competitor)

Unison offers a unique and innovative way to access home equity without the constraints of monthly payments or interest. However, the complexities of the agreement, including potential loss of appreciation and various restrictions, may make it less suitable for certain homeowners.

Unison customer reviews

Reviews from reputable sources such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Trustpilot, and Google, can offer a balanced view of Unison’s services.

SourceOverall rating# of reviews
BBB1.62 out of 526
Trustpilot4.0 out of 5199

Reviews collected on April 25, 2024.

Common themes from BBB reviews include being declined by Unison, disagreements with appraisals, and slow communication. In the last year, Unison has closed 13 complaints with the BBB.

Trustpilot rates Unison’s program as “Great” with a score of 4.0 out of 5. Many customers commend the quick and easy process of applying and getting approved. 

Does Unison have a customer service team?

Unison’s customer service team can assist homeowners with inquiries or issues they may face. Here are the ways to contact Unison:

  • Email: [email protected] 
  • Phone: 1-855-930-5770
  • Mailing Addresses:
    • 650 California St. Suite 1800, San Francisco, CA 94108
    • 1299 Farnam St. Suite 940, Omaha, NE 68102

Hours aren’t published online, but the various channels of communication make it easy for current and prospective customers to reach out to Unison and get the help they need.

How to apply for a Unison home equity sharing agreement

Applying for a Unison home equity sharing agreement is a straightforward process. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Prequalify and get an estimate: Type in your address, and provide your name and email to get an estimate of how much home equity you can unlock. Unison will guide you through the process without any financial obligation or impact on your credit score.
Unison estimate calculator

Source: Unison

Unison receive your estimate form

Source: Unison

  1. Apply online: If you’re satisfied with the estimate, click “Access your equity” to fill out the application. Unison assesses your credit history, income, and property criteria.
  2. Appraise your home: Unison will set up an appraisal to determine your home’s value. Remember, Unison requires the home to be your primary residence and has other eligibility factors.
  3. Unlock your equity: Decide how much cash you want to access, and Unison will work to release the funds as fast as possible.

What if I’m denied a home equity sharing agreement from Unison?

Being denied by Unison can be frustrating, but it’s essential to understand the possible reasons for denial and explore alternatives that may be a better fit for your situation.

Reasons for denial may include the following:

  • Credit score issues: If your FICO score is below 620, Unison may deny the application.
  • LTV or DTI ratios: Unison has specific guidelines regarding LTV and DTI ratios, varying with your credit score. (It doesn’t disclose them on its website.) 
  • Incompatible loans or title holding: Certain types of loans or holding titles (e.g., as tenants-in-common) may lead to denial.
  • Property type or condition: Unison requires the property to be your primary residence and meet specific criteria.

Resources to consider

If Unison’s equity sharing agreement isn’t right for you, consider these resources:

  • List of home equity companies: A comprehensive list of providers to help you explore options for tapping your home equity, including taking out a home equity loan or HELOC, or exploring other home equity sharing agreement providers.
  • Unison vs. Unlock comparison: Detailed comparison between Unison and Unlock, highlighting their unique features.
  • Unison competitors and alternatives: An in-depth analysis of different equity sharing agreements, including Unison’s competitors.
  • Unison vs. Point: An insightful comparison between Unison and another home equity sharing agreement company, Point, helping you make an informed decision.

How do other home equity products compare to Unison?

Unison’s home equity sharing agreement is a unique product that stands apart from traditional home equity options, such as a HELOC, home equity loan, and reverse mortgage. Here’s a snapshot of how it compares:

  • Unison vs. HELOC and home equity loan: Unlike a HELOC or home equity loan where you borrow against your home’s value and make monthly payments with interest, Unison invests in your home and shares in the future change in value. You won’t make monthly payments, and Unison only profits if your home’s value increases. However, you could lose out on significant appreciation over the 30 years before you need to repay Unison.
  • Unison vs. reverse mortgage: A reverse mortgage allows seniors to convert part of their home equity into cash without selling the home. Unlike Unison, it requires meeting specific age criteria and can have complex terms. Unison’s model might provide a more straightforward way to access equity without monthly payments or age restrictions, offering flexibility without incurring debt.

Unison FAQ

Can I buy out the agreement with Unison early?

Yes, you can buy out the agreement with Unison early. Unison determines the fair market value of your property through an independent third-party appraisal. If you buy Unison out during the restriction period (first five years) it won’t share in any decrease in your home’s value.

What can I use cash from a Unison home equity sharing agreement for?

With the funds from Unison’s home equity sharing agreements, you have the flexibility to use the money however you see fit.

How long does it take to receive funds from Unison?

The time it takes to get funds from Unison will vary based on the appraisal and settlement process.

What are the tax implications of using Unison?

We recommend discussing the tax implications of using Unison’s equity sharing agreement with a tax professional. Unison is an investor and not a co-owner of your home, so the specific tax treatment may vary based on your situation.

What if I don’t have the funds to settle my investment at the end of my Unison term?

If you don’t have the funds to settle the investment at the end of the 30-year term, you may need to sell your home or consider a cash-out mortgage refinance.

If I renovate my house, will it affect my Unison investment?

Renovations to your house may affect your Unison investment. You’ll be eligible to apply for a remodeling adjustment after three years.

What happens if I die during my agreement with Unison?

Should you pass away while the Unison agreement is in effect, and no other surviving parties are on the agreement, your heirs or estate will have a 180-day grace period to fulfill the terms of the Unison agreement.

The home won’t transfer to any heirs not included in the agreement, so it’s vital to communicate with your heirs about your choice to participate in the Unison agreement.

How we rated Unison’s home equity sharing agreement

We designed LendEDU’s editorial rating system to help consumers identify companies that offer the best financial products. Our team spends hours researching these companies each year to ensure our ratings are fresh and accurate.

Our most recent evaluation compared Unison to several lenders across a number of factors, including cash offers, repayment terms, customer reviews, and fees. We weighted, scored, and combined these factors to produce a final editorial rating. This rating is expressed on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest possible score. We round all ratings to the nearest tenth decimal place.

Home equity productOur rating
Unison investment3.8 out of 5