Home improvement projects—whether you hire a pro or DIY—do cost a pretty penny, so most of us have to take out some sort of loan to pay for them. You've probably received "you've been approved for a personal loan!" letters in the mail or have been told you can refinance your mortgage and take money out for whatever you want. As with other major financial decisions, however, it's really worth the time to understand your different choices so you don't screw yourself in the long run. Let's take a look.

After the kitchen, you may want to think about remodeling your existing bathroom. If your house is older, you may be sporting pink, blue or avocado tile or outdated fixtures. Even if your home is newer, styles can change. Invest in neutral-colored tile and give the room some personality with a fresh coat of paint, wall hangings and a new shower curtain. Update lighting fixtures and install a low-flow toilet to save on the water bill. You may even want to add a new vanity and matching mirror.


In a cash-out refinance, you get a new loan to replace your mortgage, but instead of borrowing the same amount you currently owe, you borrow more. Let’s say your home is worth $240,000 and you owe $120,000 on your mortgage. If you did a cash-out refinance, you could get a new loan for $192,000. After paying off your $120,000 mortgage, you would have $72,000 to put toward home improvements (or any other purpose, such as sending your child to college).
Loan shopping often starts with mainstream mortgages from banks, credit unions, and brokers. Like all mortgages, they use your home as collateral and the interest on them is deductible. Unlike some, however, these loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or Veterans Administration (VA), or bought from your lender by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two corporations set up by Congress for that purpose. Referred to as A loans from A lenders, they have the lowest interest. The catch: You need A credit to get them. Because you probably have a mortgage on your home, any home improvement mortgage really is a second mortgage. That might sound ominous, but a second mortgage probably costs less than refinancing if the rate on your existing one is low. Find out by averaging the rates for the first and second mortgages. If the result is lower than current rates, a second mortgage is cheaper. When should you refinance? If your home has appreciated considerably and you can refinance with a lower-interest, 15-year loan. Or, if the rate available on a refinance is less than the average of your first mortgage and a second one. If you're not refinancing, consider these loan types:
If you tend to have trouble getting out of debt, keeping your finances organized or meeting deadlines, this isn’t a good option for you. Borrowers who are disciplined, detail oriented and spend within their means could find this to be the least expensive option. However, it may not be possible to borrow as much with a credit card as you could with a home equity loan or cash out refinance, depending on how much equity you have and how good your credit is.
If you're ready to do some demolition and renovation, begin the process to apply for a home equity loan by answering a few questions. With a home equity loan, you have the ability to choose your repayment term and no annual fees. Plus, our home improvement loan rates are low, fixed interest rates, designed to make monthly payments more manageable. Contact a Citizens Bank Home Loan Originator for more information on home equity loans and rates today.
Still, there are several other factors to consider. The first is that Marcus caps home improvement loans at $40,000, so if you need more to fund an extensive project, Marcus may not be the right lender for you. It can also take Marcus five business days to fund your loan, which means you’re in for a longer wait than you will be with lenders like Earnest.
To make sure you are getting the best deal, comparison shop with several lenders, including your mortgage servicer. Requesting a pre-approval or applying for several remodeling loans won’t damage your credit—McBride says the credit bureaus lump similar applications into one inquiry – but it will help you to find the lowest interest rate and the best terms.

State and Local Loan Programs. In addition to loan programs run by the federal government, there are thousands of programs operated by the 50 states, as well as counties and municipalities. For example, the state of Connecticut currently lists 11 programs that assist homeowners with everything from financing the purchase of a home in need of repair to helping improve the energy efficiency of their houses.

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.

At LightStream, we care about the environment and, more importantly, we try to do something about it. For one, we have created a virtually paperless consumer loan experience at LightStream. By eliminating paper almost entirely from the LightStream loan process, we not only save our natural resources but we save on expenses as well, better enabling us to offer you highly competitive interest rates.


Disclaimer: Fixed rates from 5.99% APR to 17.67% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 5.74% APR to 14.70% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of October 15, 2019 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 5.74% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 2.05% plus 3.08% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.
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