What’s more, sometimes making a necessary change to a house to keep it livable makes more sense than moving, even if you have to borrow. And some people just won’t want to wait to make upgrades; they’ll prefer to borrow now for that nice kitchen and pay off the project over time. Whatever the reason, if you’re going to borrow money for home improvements, you should know what your options are and which ones might be best for your situation.
Interest rates. The less interest you pay, the more loan you can afford. An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) is one way to lower that rate, at least temporarily. Because lenders aren't locked into a fixed rate for 30 years, ARMs start off with much lower rates. But the rates can change every 6, 12, or 24 months thereafter. Most have yearly caps on increases and a ceiling on how high the rate climbs. But if rates climb quickly, so will your payments.
A home equity loan lets you borrow a lump sum all at once, while a HELOC lets you draw on a line of credit as needed for a certain number of years, called the draw period. During the draw period, you only have to repay interest on the loan, which makes monthly payments quite small but can result in payment shock later when the draw period ends and the borrower has to start repaying principal too. In addition, a HELOC has a variable interest rate, while a home equity loan has a fixed interest rate. A HELOC’s initial rate may be lower than a home equity loan’s, but over time it can become higher if market conditions push interest rates up. (For more, see Choosing a Home Equity Loan or Line of Credit.)
Disclaimer: Views expressed may not necessarily reflect those of Citizens Bank. The information contained herein is for informational purposes only as a service to the public, and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel, nor does it constitute advertising or a solicitation. You should do your own research and/or contact your own legal or tax advisor for assistance with questions you may have on the information contained herein.
"SunTrust Advisors" may be officers and/or associated persons of the following affiliates of Truist Financial Corporation: SunTrust Bank now Truist Bank, our commercial bank, which provides banking, trust and asset management services; SunTrust Investment Services, Inc., a registered broker-dealer, which is a member of FINRALink opens a new window and SIPCLink opens a new window, and a licensed insurance agency, and which provides securities, annuities and life insurance products; SunTrust Advisory Services, Inc., a SEC registered investment adviser which provides Investment Advisory services.
Services provided by the following affiliates of Truist Financial Corporation: Banking products and services, including loans and deposit accounts, are provided by SunTrust Bank and Branch Banking and Trust Company, both now Truist Bank, Member FDIC. Trust and investment management services are provided by SunTrust Bank and Branch Banking and Trust Company, both now Truist Bank, and SunTrust Delaware Trust Company. Securities, brokerage accounts and /or insurance (including annuities) are offered by SunTrust Investment Services, Inc. and BB&T Securities, LLC, P.J. Robb Variable Corp., and Precept Advisory Group, LLC, which are SEC registered broker-dealers, members FINRALink opens a new window, SIPCLink opens a new window, and a licensed insurance agency where applicable. Investment advisory services are offered by SunTrust Advisory Services, Inc., GFO Advisory Services, LLC, BB&T Securities, LLC, Sterling Capital Management, LLC, and BB&T Institutional Investment Advisors, Inc., each SEC registered investment advisers. BB&T Sterling Advisors, BB&T Investments and BB&T Scott & Stringfellow, are divisions of BB&T Securities, LLC. Mutual fund products are advised by Sterling Capital Management, LLC. Mortgage products and services are offered through SunTrust Mortgage, a tradename for SunTrust Bank now Truist Bank.
There is a catch, however. Unlike other lenders like SoFi or Marcus, LightStream does not offer pre-qualification. This can be problematic if you want to see what your interest rate will be, but don’t want the hard pull to show up on your credit history. That aside, if you have an established credit history, it’s hard to pass up the competitive and flexible terms LightStream offers.
*Credit scores are based on information collected by credit bureaus and information reported each month by your creditors about the balances you owe and the timing of your payments. A credit score is a compilation of all this information converted into a number that helps a lender to determine the likelihood that you will repay the loan on schedule. The credit score is calculated by the credit bureau, not by the lender. Credit scores are calculated by comparing your credit history with millions of other consumers. 
You could also do a combination of cash and one of the financing options below to reduce the amount you pay in interest. Also note that by "cash" we mean you pay for the project outright rather than get a loan for it that you pay off slowly. That could mean charging the project to your credit card so you get the rewards for it but then paying your credit card in full when it's due, avoiding the interest.

For a home equity line of credit, the best place to start is your own bank or credit union. Both usually offer lower rates to depositors. Check other sources to be sure. If you get a second mortgage, refinance, or opt for an FHA 203(k) mortgage, you're better off talking with a mortgage broker. A broker has more loan sources to choose from. When looking for a broker, check with people you know, and check any references you get. Contractors are another source of financing, but be wary: It's hard enough to choose a contractor and a loan when they're separate. And be suspicious of contractors who emphasize the monthly payment instead of the total cost of the job.


Whether you want to give your kitchen a fresh look, build the deck you’ve wanted, or want to make a few bigger home repairs, one of the decisions you’ll face is how to pay for your home improvement. Sure, you could use your credit cards or maybe take advantage of in-store financing, but one of the most convenient ways to pay for larger projects is with a home improvement loan.
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