THE KALEJUNKIE DISH: OWNING MY OWN HOME

This article is sponsored by Unison, but my thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. 

my home ownership story by kalejunkie

THE KALEJUNKIE DISH: OWNING MY OWN HOME

Like many other Americans, homeownership is something that I’ve wanted since I was a little girl. My dad immigrated to this country from Lebanon in the late 70s. At the time, he didn’t speak a word of English, but he was determined to become successful. He put himself through college, learned English, and worked various odd jobs to make it all happen. He then started his own army-navy-surplus business, worked extremely hard over the years to expand his businesses, until one day, he did the unthinkable – he purchased a home. That home was the home where I grew up, in North Hollywood, California. It wasn’t a big home and it wasn’t lavish; but none of that mattered, because as a family, we were living the American Dream. We owned something that became part of our identity – where happy memories were formed, where family quarrels took place, where we sat together for dinner each night and reminisced about our day. 

As I grew up and started thinking about what I wanted to do in life, the only thing I was certain of is that I wanted to be successful, so that I, too, could purchase a home, either on my own, or with a future partner. So, I went to law school. Looking back, I don’t even know why I chose law school, other than the fact that 1) I didn’t like chemistry or numbers, so no medical or finance profession; 2) I loved learning; 3) law is prestigious, and 4) I’d be able to purchase a home in just a few years after graduating, because let’s be real, those first year big law associates earn the BIG BUCKS, and yes, that was absolutely going to be me. 

What I so blindly failed to take into consideration was the amount of debt I’d have to go into to make this “dream” happen. Over the course of the 3 years, I racked up close to $100,000 in student loans. And although I landed my hot-shot associate job at the prestigious Paul Hastings Janosfky & Walker, LLP, I was miserable. I was working insane hours on cases I wasn’t passionate about, I was knee deep in an eating disorder that spiraled out of control due to the stress, and I was spending every penny I earned to somehow soothe the pain that I was feeling from a career choice gone wrong and food issues that I couldn’t get a grasp on. My dream of owning a home was a distant memory, and seemed completely out of my reach. 

And had it not been for meeting my now-husband Greg, I wouldn’t be a homeowner today. Not only was he the catalyst in helping me overcome my personal struggles with food, he was much more financially savvy than I was, carefully putting money from his pay checks aside into a housing fund, so that one day, he would have the cash for a down payment on a home. 

Fast forward – we got married, and he got a job opportunity in the San Francisco Bay Area. This was our opportunity to move from Los Angeles to San Francisco and begin a new life together. We arrived in San Francisco, utterly in disbelief at the cost of home ownership. Even tiny little Cracker Jack-sized condos were out of our price range. Here we were, two very successful working professionals, wanting to own something, but were stretched thin. By some miracle, and Greg’s savvy saving, we finally purchased our first condo in the Dogpatch. It wasn’t lavish and we had to watch our living expenses, but there was something very special about that place, simply because it was OURS. And had it not been for that purchase, we would have never been able to move into a larger home in the suburbs after I got pregnant with our first son. 

Which got me to thinking about how the majority of people can’t do what we did. I was a very successful attorney, but had no down payment to purchase any type of home, whether in the Bay Area or anywhere else for that matter. Not that there is anything wrong with renting (I did that for years!), it’s just that I desperately yearned for something that felt like my own. 

A few weeks ago, I learned about Unison, a San Francisco-based/founded company that is revolutionizing the home ownership industry. And to be totally honest here, San Francisco-founded companies are just COOL – so many of them doing COOL things that are transforming the world and doing good, the cutting edge of innovation! How I wish I knew about Unison earlier. But because I didn’t, I feel like it’s my public service duty to tell you guys all about what this company is doing. 

Unison calls it “co-investing,” but what they really do is give you cash towards the down payment for your home. It’s not a loan; there’s no debt, no interest and no monthly payments. What they receive in exchange is a share in the appreciation or depreciation of your home. This gives people the flexibility to buy and own the home they really want through cash for down payments that increase people’s buying power in an almost-impossible housing market, ESPECIALLY HERE IN THE CRAZY SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA! As a native SF company, they understand the ins and outs of this market, and truly care about making homeownership a possibility for as many people as possible. 

To learn more about Unison, and what they do, click here. I truly hope this post gave you some insight on my own homeownership journey and helps make your home ownership dreams become a reality!