Keep Your Home As Your Primary Residence
While we won’t be checking in on you, we do require that the home on your Unison contract is your primary address (i.e. no rental properties). That means you should live/sleep in your home for a total of 180 days or more in every 365‐day period and never be absent for 60 or more consecutive days.
If you know you’re going to be away for a period that exceeds this, it’s important that you contact us in advance.
Keep Your Payments Current
Be sure all payments related to your home are made on time. This includes but isn’t limited to mortgage payments, property taxes, and insurance.
Keep Unison Informed Of Major Changes
As partners in your home, we need to be in the know about important changes. You’ll need to promptly notify us in the event that you:
- Decide to sell or transfer your home.
- Receive an offer to purchase your home.
- Have a lien placed on your home.
- File for bankruptcy or have an involuntary bankruptcy proceeding led against you.
- If a fire (or some other hazard) damages/destroys your home.
- If you receive a notice of condemnation concerning your home.
- If a non‐signatory to the Unison HomeOwner Agreement becomes an owner or a principal resident of your home.
- If other events occur that could significantly impact your home’s value, like a remodel.
When in doubt, please err on the side of letting us know.
Maintain Proper Insurance
Just like most mortgage lenders, Unison requires you maintain hazard insurance equal to the value of your home. If your home’s value increases, you’ll need to increase your coverage accordingly. In addition, your insurance policy must cover fire risk and other hazards that homeowners typically have in your area (flood insurance in areas that tend to flood, earthquake coverage in San Francisco, etc.). Your Program Specialist will inform you of any requirements prior to signing. Again, this is similar to what mortgage lenders usually require, so you would be doing this whether or not you were in a Unison HomeOwner Agreement.
Keep Your Home In Good Repair
It may seem obvious, but poorly maintained homes aren’t worth as much as homes that are properly cared for. Since a decreased home value affects us too, we require you to keep your home in good condition. Any serious defects and/or issues on the property should be fixed prior to sale. In instances where clients fail to maintain their property (or if a pre-existing defect is not addressed), a Deferred Maintenance Adjustment may be applied when the Agreement ends.
Stay Below The Max
Authorized Debt Limit
While working with Unison, it’s perfectly possible you’ll decide you want a supplementary loan from another provider. That’s usually not a problem as long as you don’t exceed the. This is a pretty standard requirement and isn’t at all unique to Unison. Either way, you should always notify us to get formal approval.
There are, however, some cases where we may not approve new debt, including certain types of loans, such as reverse mortgages, shared appreciation loans, or any loan with a negative amortization feature that could result in all loans exceeding the Maximum Authorized Debt limit. These types of loans can affect our profit and yours, which is why we don’t allow them. Additionally, we’re sometimes unable to approve new debt on a home whose value has declined over the course of our agreement. In cases where we make exceptions, we usually require clients pay us a fee for the administrative process required to calculate our risks and adjust our terms with you. This is a protective measure for both of us.
Finally, it’s possible some mortgage lenders may decline to provide new loans to you (or, they may provide a smaller loan than requested). This isn’t the norm, but it’s something to keep in mind.
The Maximum Authorized Debt limit does not apply to personal borrowing/financing that is unrelated to your home. For example, credit cards, car loans, unsecured loans, or secured loans where your home is not the collateral. In personal borrowing cases like these, you do not need to notify or get approval from Unison.
Addressing Changes That Affect Title and/or Ownership Of Your Home
As you work with Unison, things in your life may change, and that may in turn affect your home. We can help you manage some of these changes, including:
- Placing your home in a family trust
- Adding someone (such as a spouse) to the title of your home
- Removing someone from the title of your home
Depending on the type of change and the amount of work required to accommodate it, we may charge a small fee. The current fee schedule, as well as the process and requirements for handling these changes can be provided by your Program Specialist.
What about unexpected circumstances?
Nobody likes to think about unexpected problems and complications, but it’s important to know what your options are if a difficult situation occurs. We understand that in some circumstances, otherwise responsible homeowners find themselves unable to keep up with mortgage payments or home repairs due to events beyond their control (e.g. job loss, serious illness). Whatever the situation, Unison is committed to working with you and assisting in any way we can.
What if I get behind on my mortgage?
If you find yourself behind on your mortgage and the lender starts the foreclosure process, Unison may be able to help by offering you something called an Orderly Sale. This process is designed to prevent your home from going into foreclosure. Besides preventing foreclosure, this is good because 1) it helps protect your credit and 2) it usually results in a better sale price since foreclosures often sell below market value. This feature is unique to Unison and an excellent protection for homeowners.
What if I get behind on my property taxes?
Another unique Unison feature is something we call a Protective Advance. A Protective Advance is money that Unison spends on your behalf if the value of your home is at risk due to non-payment of a bill(s). If, for example, you don’t pay your property taxes, Unison can (after notifying you) use a Protective Advance to pay the bill for you.
In situations like this, you are responsible for repaying Unison. In addition, we also charge interest on the balance of any Protective Advance until it’s repaid in full (note: this is the only time we charge interest). In situations like this, you are responsible for repaying Unison.
Unison is committed to working with you to get through unforeseen circumstances.
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