By Jia Taylor, Content Marketing Lead
The success of your homeownership journey largely depends on the company you keep. Having the right people by your side can help make your homeownership experience less stressful and more enjoyable.
Whether it’s to secure new financing, organize your home remodeling projects, analyze comparable home sales in your area, or understand your contractual obligations under your Unison agreement, Unison’s Home Partnership Team works alongside Unison’s homeowners to help them navigate their homeownership journey, while making informed decisions and avoiding any pitfalls along the way.
Unison’s talented team of experienced professionals is writing the playbook for home equity sharing management, developing industry-first technology and asset management strategies for unlocking the largest global asset class for investors and homeowners. We caught up with some of the team members - Theo Haugen, Director of the Home Partnership Team and Brandan Carlson, Senior Manager on the Home Partnership Team, to get an exclusive peek inside the Home Partnership’s game plan.
Theo Haugen, Director of the Home Partnership Team
Why is it called the Home Partnership Team?
Unlike typical asset management, we’re not working with other professional firms and businesses or doing leases, we’re working with individual homeowners. When we’re invested with them, we really want to partner with them. We’re not managing what they do, but rather we're giving them access to better resources, better knowledge, better options so as they’re going through their homeownership journey they can make better decisions about their home, because that’s good for them and also good for us.
What should people know about the Home Partnership Team?
We’re a resource. Your relationship with us can last up to 30 years. During that time, if you’re ever unsure about something in your Unison agreement, something’s happened with your home, or there’s been an unexpected financial event and now you’re not sure how you’re going to pay your mortgage, just pick up the phone and call us or send us an email. Most of the time, we can direct you to resources to help you understand if you are making the most informed choices. That’s huge because home ownership can be hard to understand. We have a whole team of real estate and financial professionals at your disposal. Reach out to us when in doubt because we’re a resource for more than what you would expect.
What are some questions you get from homeowners?
There are a lot of questions about home-related finances. What can I do if I can’t pay my mortgage? Can I refinance? Which lenders will help me refinance? Is this a competitive rate? We can help point out if their lender is charging outsized fees compared with what we typically see. We can direct them to other lenders who have worked with Unison customers and offered better rates. On the financial trouble side, COVID’s been difficult. We’ve seen homeowners who’ve gone into forbearance with their lender and then their lender says they will need to pay back everything they owe right when the forbearance period ends. What the homeowner doesn't know is that there may be other options for coming out of forbearance. We can help them work with their lender to make sure they are presented with all the options that are available.
How long do you typically work with a homeowner?
We’re going to work with the homeowner for as long as it takes to navigate the issue, whether that’s a week, six months, or two years. The Unison agreement term is 30 years so we’re going to be here to help from the time you become a customer until your agreement is over.
Why is the Home Partnership Team important?
Life is hard and home ownership can be hard. Unexpected financial events can occur and deplete your resources, putting your home at risk. The Home Partnership Team can help. While we can’t always give you tailored specific advice, we can at least point you in the right direction to help you understand what your options are. Homeownership can be challenging and we want to help people succeed.
Brandan Carlson, Senior Manager on the Home Partnership Team
You started at Unison 5 years ago. What’s your experience been like?
I’ve been on an exciting and eventful ride here. I’ve made a ton of great professional connections, built a lot of good personal relationships, and I love the company and our mission, vision and values that we’ve put forth over the years and that we've committed to staying true to. I’m really excited about how big of an opportunity we have in front of us and how well we’ve previously executed on that, and so I know that the goals that we’ve set for ourselves in 2022 and beyond are absolutely reachable because we’ve executed on some of those already.
What’s the biggest shift you’ve seen since you’ve started working with the Home Partnership Team?
The biggest shift in mentality has just been brought about by sheer volume.
When I first started, we had probably a couple of hundred customers with Unison agreements. So every challenge that came up felt like it was happening for the first time. Now we have close to 10,000 homeowner partners. We’ve seen it all before and we're experienced in helping homeowners with these issues. We’re also thinking of the big picture and have shifted our mindset to being proactive. Can we build automation to solve these problems in advance so they never come up? That’s what we’re thinking about now.
How does the Home Partnership Team advocate for homeowners?
Our importance is magnified because our product is not well understood by the rest of the industry surrounding it. So we really have to advocate on the homeowner's behalf. For example, when the homeowner sells their house, we help educate the loan officer, title agent, or escrow officer involved because the way that home equity sharing works is different from how debt works. Everyone else assumes that anything you do with your house is debt because that’s how traditionally it’s always been, but that’s not true anymore. You can get different types of financing for your home and one day home equity sharing will be something that everyone is familiar with. For now, we do a lot of educating to ensure transactions go smoothly and advocate for our customers.
Describe the homeownership experience for Unison’s homeowners.
By the time you’ve reached the Home Partnership Team, you’ve received your funds from Unison and have used it for whatever purpose you intended it to be used for - consolidate debt, put kids through school, make repairs to your home. Unison's home equity sharing agreement has helped you to reach your financial goals, with no monthly payments or interest, and now the Home Partnership Team is your homeownership resource for up to 30 years...but we know unexpected stuff comes up like financial hardships or title changes -- or even routine things like refinancing your mortgage or working on a home remodel -- and the Home Partnership Team is here to help. Our mantra is that owning a home with Unison is better.