Company aims to help homebuyers overcome the down payment hurdle

(CBS News) - More and more people across the country are planning to buy new homes.

In Charlotte, there always seems to be a new development popping up. But rising prices and interest rates can make it more challenging.

There's one company that is helping buyers with their down payments in exchange for a piece of the property's value down the road.

Brian Hardy knew he had found the perfect home for his family the first time he saw it. A promotion prompted a move to southern California from San Francisco. Both areas are experiencing skyrocketing real estate prices.

"The promotion came with a bump in pay but not a sack of money to go put on a down payment," Hardy said.

So, he turned to an investment company called Unison for help with the hefty down payment. Their program gave him more buying power.

"It's additional cash in the transaction that can be used to better qualify for a loan, have a stronger offer, get a fourth bedroom instead of a three-bedroom," said Lara Brizuela of Unison Homeownership Investors.

Here's how it works. The buyer typically comes up with a 10 percent down payment. Unison matches with another 10 percent. That 20 percent down payment helps reduce the monthly mortgage and avoids extra insurance costs known as PMI.

When the homeowner sells, Unison gets 35 percent of any increase in property value. If prices fall, Unison pays the same 35 percent stake in the value decrease.

"That could be two years from now, 30 years from now. It's at a time that they choose," Brizuela said.

Unison's homeownership investment program is for owner-occupied residences, not property flippers.

"There was pluses and minuses and when I added it all up, it was a fit for us," Hardy said.

The extra help allowed Hardy to buy his California dream home, complete with a pool.

Unison says buyers must go through a detailed training to understand how the program works before they can take part.  Their program is currently available in 22 states including North Carolina. Right now, it is not available in South Carolina.