I cover the money side of home-related purchases and improvements: avoiding scams, making sense of warranties and insurance, finding the best financing, and getting the most value for your dollar. For CR, I've also written about digital payments, credit and debit, taxes, supermarkets, financial planners, airlines, retirement and estate planning, shopping for electronics and hearing aids—even how to throw a knockout wedding on a shoestring. I am never bored. Find me on Twitter: @TobieStanger
These FHA-insured loans allow you to simultaneously refinance the first mortgage and combine it with the improvement costs into a new mortgage. They also base the loan on the value of a home after improvements, rather than before. Because your house is worth more, your equity and the amount you can borrow are both greater. And you can hire a contractor or do the work yourself. The downside is that loan limits vary by county and tend to be relatively low. The usual term is 30 years.

Your debt-to-income ratio: You can calculate your DTI by dividing all of your monthly debt payments by your monthly income. Lenders generally consider a DTI of 36 percent or less to be acceptable, but many lenders will consider borrowers with higher ratios, depending on their income. Anything getting close to 50 percent, though, may disqualify you.
Think carefully before you embark on this type of refinance, though: You’ll be using your home as collateral for a bigger loan, and you’ll be financing short-term costs with long-term debt, which adds interest and other fees to the price of the renovations. In most cases, a cash-out refinance is appropriate only if you’re improving your home in ways that will increase its value.
A credit card might be a better choice than a loan, for instance, if you don't need to borrow a lot. Experian's 2019 report on consumer credit card debt found that the average credit card limit is about $23,000, but your card limits may be lower or higher. If you're applying for a new card, your credit limit at first may be capped at $5,000 or $10,000.
There are many ways to pay for home improvements, from traditional home improvement loans to personal loans to home equity lines of credit to government programs to credit cards. Regardless of which type of loan you’re considering and what type of lender you want to work with, shopping around will help you make sure that you’re getting the best rate and terms on your home improvement loan. If you apply with several lenders within a short period, the impact on your credit score will be minimal. (For more, see The 5 Biggest Factors That Affect Your Credit, An Introduction to the FHA 203(k) Loan and Applying for an FHA 203(k) Loan.)
Whether you hire a contractor or take on the work yourself, begin with an accurate estimate of what the project will cost. Lenders will insist on a specific figure before they work with you. If you're hiring a contractor, start with a firm bid, broken down into labor and materials. Then add on 10 percent for surprises. On work you'll do yourself, compile a detailed materials list with quantities, costs, and an accurate total. Include permit fees and equipment rental. Then add a cushion of 20 to 30 percent to be safe. Once you know how much you need to finance your home improvement project, how much will you get? Despite the promises and hype lenders make in their ads and promotional materials, how much you can borrow hinges on your credit rating, the loan-to-value ratio, and your income. These factors also help determine the interest rate, the length of the loan, and whether you'll pay points. Your credit rating. The best rates and terms go to homeowners with an A rating—no late payments in the last 12 months and no maxed-out credit cards. One or two late payments or overdrawn credit cards probably won't knock you out of the game, but you might end up with a higher interest rate and a smaller loan.
"For those borrowers who do not have equity in their homes for a traditional home equity or second mortgage loan, borrowers can usually access some form of unsecured home improvement loan or revolving credit," says Ron Haynie, senior vice president of mortgage finance policy for the Independent Community Bankers of America, which represents the interests of the community banking industry. "Most banks will make an unsecured home improvement loan."
* The actual loan amount, term, and APR amount of loan that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination and state law. Minimum loan amounts vary by state. **Example: A $5,700 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,429.25, repayable in 36 monthly installments, would have an APR of 29.95% and monthly payments of $230.33. Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC.
3 LightStream will offer a rate .10 percentage points lower than the rate offered by a competing lender subject to satisfactory evidence being provided that you were actually approved for a lower rate with another lender for the same loan terms offered by LightStream by no later than 2 p.m. Eastern time one business day prior to loan funding. The Rate Beat program excludes secured or collateralized loan offers from any lender and the competitive offer must be generally available to any customer with a similar credit profile. Terms are subject to change at any time.
Difficulty getting a loan if you have bad credit or you’re self-employed: you might find it difficult to get approval for an unsecured home improvement loan if you have bad credit. This may also apply if you’re self-employed because you may not have the guarantee of fixed income to meet the monthly repayments. If you are approved, you may then find that you aren’t able to borrow as much as you wanted
Familiarize yourself with your credit history. Your credit reports carry the most weight for lenders making a loan decision. In the U.S., you are entitled to one free credit report each year, which can be accessed through https://annualcreditreport.com. Credit reports can also be paid for through the three credit bureaus or through a third party business.

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There are so many good things here it is hard to decide what I like most. A neighbor farm has a keyless lock which I was surprised at. Like ULTralog UL3Bt mostof all. Being out side most of the day in spring, summer and fall, this would be very good. Also would not loose key when working outside. Like most of the rest, but the keyless lock is the best for me.
With a low home improvement loan rate available, now's the perfect time to get started on those remodeling projects you've been putting off. However, while you're renovating your home, be careful not to add things that would price your home out of the range of your neighborhood. For example, if you own a bungalow in a neighborhood where sale prices don't top $125,000, reconsider adding a master suite fit for a mansion. You may not recoup that investment when buyers can get very similar homes on the same street for less. Even in a neighborhood where homes sell for $1 million, adding exotic hardwood floors or marble drives and walkways could still push your home's price higher than the average, making it harder for you to sell someday.
The catch is that to keep the 0% rate, you will likely be required to make minimum monthly payments on time every month, even during the 0% introductory period. You need a clear plan for repaying the full amount you borrow before the introductory period ends, or else you will have to pay interest on the remaining balance, usually at a much higher rate.
A personal loan gives borrowers an unsecured lump sum that can be used for any purpose. People use personal loans to start businesses, pay for vacations, consolidate debt and more. Like a home improvement loan, but unlike a home equity loan, a personal loan doesn’t require collateral and doesn’t put your home or other assets at risk. That being said, a lower interest rate and/or larger loan amount may be available by getting a secured personal loan rather than an unsecured one. Borrowing minimums are low, as are loan fees, and you can get a personal loan even if you don’t have any home equity. These loans are also typically funded quickly. (For more, see 8 Possible Risks of Unsecured Personal Loans and 6 Ways to Get the Best Personal Loan Rate.)
Your credit score: It’s smart to know what are your chances of qualifying before you apply for a loan. Get a free copy of your credit report from each of the major credit-reporting bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. You are entitled to one free report a year from each bureau. The most favorable rates go to borrowers with the best credit scores. Every lender you apply with will check your credit score and credit history.
A personal loan gives borrowers an unsecured lump sum that can be used for any purpose. People use personal loans to start businesses, pay for vacations, consolidate debt and more. Like a home improvement loan, but unlike a home equity loan, a personal loan doesn’t require collateral and doesn’t put your home or other assets at risk. That being said, a lower interest rate and/or larger loan amount may be available by getting a secured personal loan rather than an unsecured one. Borrowing minimums are low, as are loan fees, and you can get a personal loan even if you don’t have any home equity. These loans are also typically funded quickly. (For more, see 8 Possible Risks of Unsecured Personal Loans and 6 Ways to Get the Best Personal Loan Rate.)
A home equity/Line of credit, a closed end 2nd mortgage, an after-value loan or a host of other equity products are the options available for home improvement loans. What are the improvements to be made, the period it will take to complete and the amount of equity available are the important considerations to be made before going for a home improvement loan.
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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.)
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