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[Editor’s Note: Financing the construction of an ADU can be challenging, as our many posts related to finance have established. One summary of the more conventional options can be found in a post from 2014. The present post comes courtesy of a business offering a new financing option, recently described in the NY Times. As with all financing arrangements, it is advisable to game out future scenarios and exercise due diligence. –Martin]
Unison’s innovative home co-investing product is a new solution for homeowners looking to build an ADU. By eliminating the monthly payments and fixed payback period traditionally associated with financing, Unison offers financial flexibility and peace of mind to anyone undertaking an ADU construction.
What is home co-investing?
Unison helps unlock your home’s equity in exchange for a portion of your home’s change in value when you sell. No extra debt, no interest, and no monthly payments. Plus, Unison shares in the upside and the down. Finally, any value added via remodeling (like adding an ADU) is yours to keep.
How can Unison help with your ADU project?
How much can Unison invest?
With the Unison HomeOwner program, Unison can provide up to 17.5% of the value of your home by unlocking your home equity. Of course, the exact amount depends on your unique situation. Please contact Unison to find out exactly how much home equity you can access.
What happens to your equity gained from adding an ADU?
If you make improvements to your home that increase its value, like adding an ADU, you can apply for what is called a Remodeling Adjustment, which allocates 100 percent of the value attributable to your home improvement project to you, so that Unison doesn’t share in that value.
Questions? Email ADU@unison.com to talk to Unison’s ADU team and see how Unison can work for your project.
Ready to go? Learn more and apply on Unison’s website.
Claire used Unison to build a living space for her mom – without emptying her savings
“I live in a trendy neighborhood near Portland. The housing market here is a bit insane, and has been for years, but with some patience and my former background in the mortgage industry, I was able to purchase the home I wanted. It’s a single-story home in generally good shape, but needs repairs here and there.
ADUs are popular around here. Adding an ADU to my home and increasing its value while providing space for family, either in short-term or long-term options, was something I kept in the back of mind as being a potentially win-win situation for myself and my family.
I realized I could use Unison to finance construction of an ADU—giving my mother the ability to live with us while maintaining her independence—without adding a large monthly payment or using savings. Unison was perfect for me. I’ve protected my savings, kept my monthly payments manageable, and even had better negotiating power with contractors due to cash on hand. And on top of all that, the value created by this addition is mine to keep – Unison doesn’t share in any of the gains from adding square footage.
My experience with Unison was incredible. Anthony, the salesperson I worked with, was transparent, honest, and patient—a big contrast to the big banks I initially reached out to! Things moved quickly, too; I had my money in less than 30 days.
Unison’s process was very attentive and efficient, unlike the big banks that were ignoring me. I had a single, in-depth phone conversation with the Unison sales rep and was convinced that I wanted to move forward. The team was very transparent and worked with me to find the best solution for my situation.”
Jack was able to finish his ADU project and will increase his monthly income
“I’m a native Oaklander with permanent head-spin from housing prices here, but in 2018 I found myself the happy recipient of an unexpected inheritance. I knew right away it would go towards housing and getting me out of the rental trap.
Along with my life savings, the inheritance was enough for strong down payment on a typical home in the area, plus another 90k.
Instead of just plunking it all down on a house and then moving in, I searched for a property amenable to adding an ADU. My plan was to rent out the main house to tenants who could cover the mortgage and add in an ADU for myself underneath them over time.
I found my gem in June of 2018: a 2-bedroom craftsman with an impressive finished basement. The floor would have to be lowered to get the required (and desired) ceiling height, which would in turn necessitate foundation work, but, this was the place. I bid, I got it, I rented it to some folks who really really didn’t mind construction noise, and promptly started digging and shoring and wiring and plumbing. Within six months I was, predictably, nearly out of money.
I figured I needed about 85K more to finish. I thought about taking out a HELOC on the property—my LTV left me plenty of room, and the income from my tenants made my DTI look good too. But of course, I had to consider Unison, a company whose product I had admired enough to join as an employee.
Unison was a clear winner for me. I was getting income from my tenants, but it was all going towards the carrying costs of the home—I wasn’t pocketing anything from the rental, and I didn’t want to sacrifice any of my disposable income to monthly debt payments.
My final concern was over the equity-bump to my home. With folks in my neighborhood paying $600 per square foot, I expect a substantial boost to my home equity from my 600 square foot ADU. Unison has a “remodeling adjustment” to deal with this type of situation, and make sure I get full credit for the value of the unit I’m building. In other words, Unison is effectively paying for my project, but they’re not going to share in the resulting value-bump to my house. Given that one of my roles at Unison is assessing and processing these very adjustments, I know the process to be fair. This feature is what led me to pull the trigger.
At this point my project is speeding towards completion, and I’m enjoying zero monthly payments. In exchange, Unison has a claim to 25% of my home’s appreciation. I keep the other 75%. This is intuitive to me—if Unison wins, it’s only because I’m winning alongside them. My only complaint is that they ask for a lot of documentation in underwriting. They’re clearly experiencing some growing pains. Overall however this was a novel solution that unlocked my ADU project, and I’m excited to be a part of bringing it to more folks seeking a debt-free ADU financing solution!”