Unison Review

We’ve taken a deep dive into Unison, the company that allows homeowners to access future equity in their homes.  Read further to learn if they are the right lender for your renovation project of ADU.

Most people have a tough time financing their accessory dwelling unit (ADU) using traditional means.  The most common ways to use home equity to improve your property, or build an ADU are through HELOCs, and cash-out refinances, however they usually aren’t the right loan for something as costly as an ADU.  Additionally, the cooling housing market and rising interest rates don’t make it any easier to qualify.

If you feel like financing your ADU is going to be impossible through traditional means, there’s a little-known loan that could work for you; the home equity investment.  There are plenty of firms out there that offer home equity investments, such as Unison, Unlock, Hometap, Point, and Splitero, however, this review is focused on Unison.

If you want to learn more about the top lenders in the space, check out our article on the best home investment lenders.

Why Use a Home Equity Investment Instead of Traditional Financing For Your ADU?

When people learn about home equity investments, oftentimes, they’ll ask themselves, “Why not just use traditional financing?”  Well, as we mentioned before, traditional financing isn’t as user-friendly when you’re trying to build an ADU.  Here are some of the main benefits of using a home equity investment:

No Monthly Payments or Interest

Traditional financing comes with monthly payments, and often exorbitant amounts of interest paid to your lender.  Since a home equity investment lender shares in the appreciation of your home, they don’t charge you any interest.  Additionally, the lender is paid at the time of sale/refinance/buyout, so there aren’t any monthly payments either.

Easy to Qualify

Traditional financing is tough to qualify for, especially if you don’t have a traditional W-2 job.  Since home equity investments are typically held by the company making the loan (unlike mortgages/traditional financing), the lending requirements aren’t nearly as strict as traditional financing.  This means home equity investments are relatively easy to qualify for, especially if you have less than stellar credit, or have a non-W-2 source of income.

Access More Equity

As we mentioned before, even if you do qualify for traditional financing, you probably won’t be able to access the amount of equity you need to build an ADU.  This is because, in order to get the best rates, you’ll need stellar credit, as well as a monthly income that is much higher than your current mortgage payment and other debt obligations.

With a home equity investment, the loan is not made based on you and your credit profile, it’s based on your home and its future potential value.  This takes you almost completely out of the picture when the lender is underwriting the loan, making it easy for you to access more equity than traditional financing means.

Unison Home Equity Investment Highlights

When you’re comparing home equity investment lenders, there are a few key metrics that you should pay attention to.  We’ve assembled some of Unison’s most pertinent details in a table below:

Loan Amount $30,000-$500,000
Origination/Transaction Fee 3%
Unison’s Share of Home Appreciation 20%-70%
Minimum Credit Score 620
Maximum LTV 75%
States Available AZ, CA, CO, DE, FL, IL, IN, KA, KY, MA, MI, MN, MO, NE, NV, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, UT, VA, WA, WI, DC

Use our Home Equity Investment Calculator to see the financing options across 5 of the top lenders.

Unison Pros & Cons

Although home equity investments sound great, they won’t be the right choice for everyone.  In order to help you understand the benefits and drawbacks of a Unison home equity investment, we’ve put together some pros and cons below:

Pros

  • High maximum investment limit of $500,000
  • Unison has a rather low risk adjustment of just 2.5%
  • Available in 28 States and the District of Columbia
  • Unison does not share in appreciation from home improvements

Cons

  • Minimum investment size of $30,000 may be too high for those just looking to pay off some consumer debt
  • You can sell your home at any time, however, you are not allowed to buy out (pay Unison back early without selling) within 5 years.
  • Unison will not share in any loss of value during the first 5 years of the contract
  • Unison will only lend up to 17.5% of your home’s value, meaning some folks may not have access to the proper amount of funding through Unison.
  • Unison typically only invests in owner-occupied properties

Real-Life Scenarios

Coming soon

How to Qualify for a Unison Home Equity Investment

Unison is not as forthcoming with their qualification requirements as other lenders are.  They require a minimum credit score of at least 620.  However, a 620 credit score will not enable you to access the most equity possible.  

Unison offers loans on a sliding scale, with more stringent LTV and DTI requirements for borrowers with lower credit scores, and less stringent requirements for borrowers with excellent scores.

Summary: Is Unison Worth It?

In order to decide whether Unison is right for you or not, you should consider the following:

Unison allows you to add an ADU (or other renovation) to your property, without sharing in the added value it provides.  Although this may sound fair, not all home equity investment lenders share in this practice.

Traditional financing can be a pain to qualify for, whereas, home equity investment lenders like Unison typically make the application and approval process fairly quick and painless.  If you have a non-traditional career, or simply don’t want to deal with the hassle of traditional financing, you can save a ton of time and headache with lenders like Unison.

Lastly, it’s important to remember that Unison uses a 2.5% risk adjustment on their investments. Risk adjustments oftentimes result in you paying a bit more for a home equity investment loan over the long term.  While their adjustment rate is fairly low, there are lenders out there that don’t use risk adjustments at all, like Unlock!

If you’d like to further explore the possibilities when it comes to home equity investments, be sure to check out our handy home equity investment calculator.  It makes running the numbers for a home equity investment quick and easy!

Highlights

Investment Range

$30,000 - $500,000

Share Model

Appreciation Share

Loan-to-value

75

Min Credit Score

620

Capped APR

15 - 20%

States available

Arizona
California
Colorado
Delaware
Florida
Illinois
Indiana
Kansas
Kentucky
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Missouri
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

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