HELOCs give borrowers the benefit of an extended draw period for using the line of credit. The common draw period is 10 years. During the draw period, you can use as much or as little as your line of credit as you want, similar to a credit card. Your monthly payments are typically interest only. For homeowners planning a variety of home improvement projects with different costs and time frames, a HELOC might work best.
To possibly have the quickest impact on your home's resale value, replace overgrown bushes with low, uncluttered plantings. In the backyard, add a simple patio made of pavers, a fire pit or a fountain fashioned out of rocks or pottery. Choose evergreen, perennial plants as the primary elements in your garden. These are low maintenance, and in the winter your home will show better with full bushes instead of twigs. On the other hand, if you live in a warm climate, build an outdoor living space with gravel, pavers, umbrellas and plush patio furniture.
Another good tip is to keep your home improvements simple and neutral whenever possible. While you may be an avid gardener, potential homebuyers may not be, so they won't be enticed by a house with a yard that requires a lot of upkeep. Additionally, if you repaint rooms, choose warm, earth tones. This neutral palette will help homebuyers envision themselves and their furniture in the space. Bright reds, exotic yellows and Caribbean blues may distract potential buyers.
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Before applying, be sure to check your credit history for inaccuracies, and if you find any, dispute them. You’ll want to make sure your credit is in tip top shape so you can get the best rate from lenders. If your credit score is subprime, consider a bad credit loan instead. It’s also important to get a few estimates prior to applying for a loan so you have an idea of how much money you need to get the job done.
Home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) are popular ways to pay for home improvements because they have long repayment periods, which means the monthly payments are low. They also have low interest rates, as they’re secured by your home, and the interest is tax deductible if you itemize. But there is a small risk of losing your home when you take out this type of loan, because if you default, the lender can foreclose. Also, you take 20 to 30 years to repay your home equity loan or HELOC; it can actually cost you more in interest than a shorter-term loan with a higher interest rate, such as a traditional home improvement loan or a personal loan.
You may be able to arrange an interest-free loan through your contractor as well. However, if you're unable to pay off an interest-free loan before the term expires, you’ll probably owe interest backdated to the day you signed the agreement. In this arrangement, make sure you don’t lose the right to withhold payments if the contractor's work isn't done to your satisfaction, if that was a term of your contract.
If you’re planning to refinance, a remodeling loan may make it more difficult. When you refinance, the lender holding your home improvement loan must agree to "resubordinate" the loan, or “agree to sign off and say they’ll stay second in line,” McBride said. While this is often a formality, he said, if you are in default on your home improvement loan, “the lender may use it as leverage.”
If you have planned a renovation with a mock budget and know what the end total looks like, a good first step is to evaluate whether it's feasible to fund with cash. Creating this budget will not only help you pinpoint your expenses, but if you end up going with a loan, it will be an integral step in showing lenders that you’re prepared for the renovations.
Many people turn to home improvement loans even though saving up and paying cash for home improvements is often the least expensive option. After all, when you pay cash, you don’t have to pay interest. However, sometimes home improvements come in the form of emergency repairs, and paying interest on a loan is less costly than saving up to pay cash while your roof leaks for months and causes mold, rot and damaged ceilings that will cost even more to repair later.
HELOCs have two phases. During the draw period, you use the line of credit all you want, and your minimum payment may cover just the interest due. But eventually (usually after 10 years), the HELOC draw period ends, and your loan enters the repayment phase. At this point, you can no longer draw funds and the loan becomes fully amortized for its remaining years.
*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.