Here's what you need to know

Unison empowers homeowners to access their home’s equity without incurring debt. Curious? Find our most frequently asked questions below.
Learn the basics
In which U.S. states is Unison currently available?

Unison equity sharing agreements are currently available in these states:

  • 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
  • District of Columbia / Washington D.C.
  • Wisconsin

We’re constantly working to bring Unison to more people. If we’re not yet available in your state, we encourage you to check back here often for updates or follow us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

Information about Unison

Unison is a San Francisco and Omaha-based company founded in 2004; since then, we’ve been pioneering a smarter, better way to own homes. For the first time, homeowners have access to funding that is not tied to monthly payments or interest charges. With Unison equity sharing agreements, we unlock the equity in your home, allowing you to use the money however you see fit–with no payments to us for up to 30 years. Making this possible is a team of financial and real estate professionals who are committed to re-inventing homeownership to give Americans more opportunity and flexibility when it comes to owning a home. We’ve helped over 10,000 homeowners optimize homeownership.

What is Unison’s business model?

Unison has pioneered a smarter, better way to own your home with the equity sharing agreement. Until now, the main way to access your equity was to add on more debt. We provide homeowners an alternative by converting a portion of their existing home equity to cash without monthly payments. By sharing in the gains only if the home goes up in value, we strive to align with the interests of our homeowners and win together.

What is an equity sharing agreement, and how does it work?

Traditionally, accessing your equity meant taking out a loan that required monthly payments and added debt. Unison offers another way to do this by investing alongside you, providing you with a cash payment today in exchange for an option to share in your home’s future change in value. If the house goes up in value, we both win. If it goes down in value, Unison shares in the loss.

At the outset of your agreement with Unison, we’ll determine a starting value for your home by getting an independent appraisal, and then applying a 5.0% Risk Adjustment. Then we unlock your equity, giving you money which you are free to use however you want for up to 30 years.

How much funding is available with Unison?

The most we can invest in a single home is $500,000, but most of our equity sharing agreements are less than that.

Via an equity sharing agreement, we can provide up to 15% of the value of your home by tapping into your existing home equity. Unison’s minimum investment size is $30,000.

Of course, the amount we can invest depends on your unique situation. Please start an application to find out exactly how much we can provide you.

How is Unison's profit or loss calculated upon sale?

When you sell your home, you'll need to pay us the original amount that we shared with you, plus or minus our percentage of your home's change in value. Unison's percentage depends on how much we invested in your home at the outset.

If you choose to buy us out instead, we'll use an independent third-party appraisal to determine the fair market value of your property at the time. If you buy us out, Unison does not share in any decrease in your home's value.

What happens at the end of the agreement?

You can use the funds provided by Unison for up to 30 years. After 30 years, you will need to either sell your home or buy us out.

If you’re interested in buying Unison out of the agreement, please review the “Can I buy out Unisons’s investment in my home?” section of this FAQ for more information.

In some cases, after 30 years it might be possible to refinance your home and use the proceeds to buy out Unison's investment. However, there is no guarantee that this option will be available.

If I partner with Unison, who owns the home?

You own the home! You control the property and receive the benefits of home ownership, such as occupancy rights and income tax deductions. Unison is not an owner and has no rights of occupancy. Rather, we share a portion of the future change in value of the home, as an investor. We secure our investment without becoming in any way co-owners of your home.

How do I know if I can trust Unison?

Founded in 2004, we are A+ rated with the Better Business Bureau, have been featured in USA Today, Forbes, and other publications.

We have now helped over 10,000 people from 29 different states to liberate their equity and use it however they see fit.

Moreover, we pride ourselves on our education process, which ensures that all our clients understand how a Unison equity sharing agreement works. Transparency and clear communication are amongst our core values.

Where does Unison’s funding come from? Who are your investors?

We seek “patient capital” content to invest in your home for up to 30 years with no monthly payments. Our funding primarily comes from institutional investors, including pension funds and university endowments.

In what situations would Unison not be the right option?

A Unison equity sharing agreement is a unique home financing product that presents a great solution for some people, but it is not the right fit for everyone. First and foremost, Unison is designed for long-term use—a Unison agreement is not right for you unless you plan to stay in your home for at least five years. Many of the agreement’s best features, including Unison’s commitment to share in any loss of home value alongside you, only kick in after five years. For more information, please see the FAQ entry on the Unison “Restriction Period.”

Unison equity sharing agreements are typically for homeowners who live in the home. Additionally, though a Unison agreement is not a loan, it is also not compatible with certain kinds of loans. Reverse mortgages, interest-only loans, shared appreciation loans, or any loan with a negative amortization feature won’t work alongside Unison.

How the title to your home is held can also affect your eligibility. Typically, Unison can only offer equity sharing agreements to homeowners who hold their homes as individuals and joint tenants, not tenants-in-common or other forms of holding.

Finally, Unison customers may experience constraints when attempting to refinance their mortgage once they have entered an equity sharing agreement with Unison. We recommend that customers who are interested in refinancing their home loan do so before choosing to work with Unison—please see the FAQ entry on refinancing for more information.

Bottom line: Unison is unique, and so are you. If you're interested in learning whether you and your home qualify, please feel free to apply.

Specific scenarios
What happens if I don't properly maintain my property and its condition deteriorates?

During the term of your agreement with Unison, you are required to maintain your property in good condition, subject to normal wear-and-tear.

If you do not, when the agreement ends the value of your property will most likely be less than it would have been if it had been properly maintained, and this would not be fair to Unison. When this is the case, a Deferred Maintenance Adjustment may apply when performing the settlement calculations.

Since the loss in value would be due to your failure to maintain the property, the Deferred Maintenance Adjustment allocates all of the loss in value due to improper maintenance to you, so that Unison does not share in it.

One or more appraisals, inspections or repair estimates obtained from independent third-party providers are used to determine the amount of the Deferred Maintenance Adjustment.

Unison is committed to a fair process to determine the amount of the Deferred Maintenance Adjustment. In a rare instance in which we are unable to agree in good faith on the amount, the issue will be determined through arbitration.

More detail about the Deferred Maintenance Adjustment can be found in the Unison HomeOwner Program Guide.

Can I buy out Unison's investment in my home?

Our goal is to give you as much flexibility as possible. Equity sharing agreements that originated after February 13, 2023 are eligible to Special Terminate at any time, but Unison will not share in any decrease in value. In that situation, at a minimum, you'll have to pay back the Initial Payment (together with any amounts attributed to the Risk Adjustment) even if your home appraises for less than it was worth at the start of the agreement. We’ll use an independent third-party appraisal to determine the market value of your property at that time. Then you’ll pay us the same amount you would have paid if you had simply sold your home for its appraised value.

All agreements that originated prior to this date must adhere to the Special Termination restriction period outlined in their individual agreements. If you are a current Unison homeowner with questions about your specific Special Termination guidelines, please reach out to our Home Partnership Team by calling 800-330-5800.

The biggest difference between selling your home and buying us out is that Unison will not share in any loss in your home's value when you buy us out.

What if I make home improvements?

We believe that if you make improvements to your home (beyond regular maintenance) that boost its value, you should get all the benefits. That’s why we use a tool called a Remodeling Adjustment.

To qualify for a Remodeling Adjustment, you need to work with licensed contractors and fully document the project. We then use an independent appraiser to determine how the work changed the value of your home, making sure you receive full benefits. Keep in mind that some renovations add more value than others and some don’t add any new value at all. Whenever you are thinking about a project it is always a good first step to reach out to our team. It’s important to note that the Remodeling Adjustment doesn’t apply if you end the agreement in the first three years.

What is the "restriction period"? Can I sell my home at any time?

Since your home is yours, you are always free to sell it at any time during your agreement with us. However, Unison equity sharing agreements have a restriction period during which some features will not be available.

1. Sharing in the losses if you sell: In the case you wish to move in the first five years, the transaction would proceed as usual except if the home’s value has gone down. During the restriction period, Unison does not share in a decrease of value - meaning the Ending Agreed Value for your property will be at least equal to the Original Appraised Property Value, even if your property value has decreased since the start of your agreement. Thus, at a minimum, you’ll have to pay the Initial Payment (together with any amounts attributed to the Risk Adjustment)

2. Remodeling Adjustment: Unison will not share in the value you add via remodeling projects. However, you are eligible for a remodeling adjustment only after the third anniversary of your Unison agreement.

What happens when I decide to sell my home?

You can sell your home at any time. (After all, it’s your home!) Whenever you choose to sell, you'll need to notify Unison and send us copies of certain documents related to the sale -- such as appraisals, inspections, title reports, etc. When your sale of the home closes, you will pay Unison the amount you owe us from the escrow.

Since Unison's funding is not intended to be short-term financing, we cannot share any loss in the value of the home if you sell it within the restriction period.

What happens if there is a foreclosure?

Because we want the best for our shared investment, we see foreclosure as a last resort.

Should this become your situation, we ask that you contact us immediately so that we can connect you to relevant resources and strategize together on the best course of action for you and your home.

What happens if I get behind on my mortgage payments? What happens if I default?

Unison technically has the right to foreclose on your property to protect its investment, but we would much rather see you stay in your home. That's why we will always give you a chance to fix any default. As an investor in your property, we share your desire to protect the equity in the home. In certain circumstances, if you are facing foreclosure by your lender, we might work with you to sell your home in an orderly "non-distressed" fashion which would maximize the sale price, protect the equity in the home, and preserve your credit.

Who decides when our partnership ends? Can you force me to sell my house?

You always remain the sole owner of your property and can decide to sell your home at any time. After 30 years, you will need to either buy out Unison’s investment or sell the home.

If you ever find yourself unable to make your mortgage payments, Unison may work with you to find a resolution that is best for everyone, which could include the sale of your home.

Advanced topics
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 equity sharing 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.

Please also note that the appraisal may return a value in which Unison is unable to invest. In those cases a Unison equity sharing agreement may not be available for you.

Note: after an AMC provides appraised value for your home, Unison applies a 5.0% Risk Adjustment to account for appraisal uncertainty, and to deliver your funds more quickly.

Costs of Appraisals
In addition to our standard 3.9% transaction fee, customers who obtain an equity sharing agreement 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 standard criteria, let us know and Unison will consider using that one instead.

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 5.0% Risk Adjustment. The resulting value is called the Original Agreed Value. This 5.0% adjustment to your home’s appraised value helps account for the uncertainty inherent in the appraisal process. It also allows Unison to deliver your funds faster and without the added costs of multiple appraisals.

Original Agreed Value = Appraised Value - 5.0%

For example, if your home has an appraised value of $500,000, your Original Agreed Value will equal $475,000.

Is it possible I could end up owing Unison back less money at the end than I received at the beginning?

Yes. Unison is not a loan; we are invested in your home alongside you, so 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 the agreement, and your ending amount due to Unison, would be $0. It’s this feature along with the absence of any monthly payments that distinguishes an equity sharing agreement from a loan.

What is the Owner Occupancy Requirement?

Unison's equity sharing agreements are 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 or rentals, and are happy to have you give us a call to see if your home or property qualifies. Properties held in certain trusts and LLCs may not be eligible.

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

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 equity sharing agreement should not have to pay taxes on the cash we provide. Please contact us if you have further questions.

If I choose a Unison equity sharing agreement, 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 equity sharing agreement.

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 agreement itself does not count towards the limit – remember, our program is not debt!

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.
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 equity sharing agreement. 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.

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 particular context, as every situation is unique.

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 equity sharing agreement, Unison will deduct a 3.9% transaction fee from your agreement 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, home inspection fees typically range from $650 to $1,050 and settlement costs range from $700 to $1,750, depending on your area. Your exact costs will be provided to you prior to closing.

In addition to our standard 3.90% transaction fee, customers who obtain an equity sharing agreement from Unison are responsible for the cost of their home inspection. (There is no home inspection fee for customers who choose not to work with Unison). If you happen to have a recent home inspection that meets standard criteria, let us know and Unison will consider using that one instead.

If you choose not to work with Unison, you will not be responsible for any fees. Additionally, Unison pays any cost of credit reporting, 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.

How does Unison store and protect my information?

We take the security and safety of our customers’ personal and confidential information very seriously. We want to do what we can to help you guard against any disclosure of personal or financial information that could lead to the unauthorized use of your account or to identity theft. Consistent with industry standards, we have implemented security policies to protect and safeguard the personal information under our control from unauthorized access, improper use or disclosure, unauthorized modification, unlawful destruction or accidental loss. You can find more information about privacy and security at Unison 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 equity sharing agreement 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.

How does Unison assess my property?

To evaluate your property, Unison will order an appraisal report and a home inspection report as well.

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.

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 only 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 do I need in order to qualify for a Unison equity sharing agreement?

Generally speaking, applicants need a mid-FICO score of at least 620. Depending on credit score, loan-to-value (LTV) and debt-to-income (DTI) guidelines vary. Applicants with excellent credit can have a maximum LTV of 70%. The allowable LTV and DTI goes down as credit score goes down.

In order for us to evaluate your specific situation, we would need you to submit an application.

What is the Equity Appreciation Limit and how does that affect my payment to Unison during the Restriction Period?

To balance the investment return while Unison does not share in a decrease in property value, Unison places a limit on the maximum return on Unison’s equity investment if you end the agreement during the restriction period. This is called the Equity Appreciation Limit. During the first 12 months of the agreement, the limit is a fixed percentage. After the first 12 months of the agreement, the limit is compounded monthly (including partial months) on top of the fixed percentage. The Equity Appreciation Limit does not apply after the restriction period.

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