Energy-efficient mortgages (EEMs). Suppose your home's R-value is the envy of your block. An EEM from Fannie Mae or elsewhere could boost your debt-to-income ratio by up to 2 percent. Utility bills are lower in energy-efficient homes, so the homeowner can afford a bigger loan. EEMs have been used for new construction; lenders are now pushing them for existing homes. An EEM requires a determination that your house meets Fannie Mae's stringent energy-efficiency standards.
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.
Cash is usually preferable to accumulating more debt. However, with the average major kitchen remodel costing $54,909 and a bathroom remodel averaging $16,128, it could take decades before you've saved enough to do your projects and actually enjoy the results. For small projects, however, if you're able to save enough in cash, this is probably the best way to go.
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.
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.