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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.
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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.
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.

Home loans using home equity as collateral are the most common and offer the biggest loan amounts, according to Greg McBride, senior financial analyst for Bankrate.com. However, “Lenders are looking for homeowners to retain a 15% equity stake after the loan,” McBride said, so you’ll need a fairly large amount of equity in your home just to qualify.


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On the flip side, however, interest rates tend to be higher on personal and unsecured loans than they are on home equity or home equity line of credit (HELOC) loans. For example, a $50,000 unsecured personal loan at Wells Fargo has a 7.244% to 9.247% APR, depending on the term of your loan (36 months to 60 months)—which is a great deal more than the 4.06% APR you can get on a home equity loan, according to the latest average posted on Bankrate.
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.
HELOCs come with a draw period and repayment period. During the draw period, which often lasts about 10 years, you can spend the money in your credit line. Your monthly payments would cover mostly the interest and a little bit of the principal on any outstanding balance. During the repayment period, which typically lasts around 15 years, your monthly payments would probably be higher because they’d include more principal.
Because terms and rates differ greatly between these niche loan products, it's also harder to understand just what you're signing up for. Steer clear of shady offers, especially payday loans. You should compare the terms, APR (annual percentage rate), and other costs of each loan to see which one makes the most sense. The Mortgage Professor offers many calculators for that tricky task.
Your home improvement ideas are as unique as you are and our range of financing options can help you realize those ideas in the way that makes the most sense for you. Narrow down your options using the information below and remember our financing representatives are available to answer any questions. Be sure to consider the costs associated with each option, including interest rate, when choosing a product.
Doing a cash-out refinance means it will take you longer to pay off your home, but it also gives you access to the lowest possible borrowing rates to pay for home improvements. Lenders typically require homeowners to retain some equity after the cash-out refinance, commonly 20%, so you’ll need to have plenty of equity if you want to pursue this option. You’ll also need to be employed, have a good credit score and meet all the usual requirements to get a mortgage. (For more, see When (And When Not) to Refinance Your Mortgage)

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.
In this scenario, you're replacing your current mortgage with a new one and at the same time taking cash out for your home improvements. This can help you take advantage of today's lower mortgage rates and fund big projects at the same time. Because of the long (30 years, usually) payout plan, you also get lots of time to pay back the loan, and your monthly payments will be lower than if you got a home equity loan or line of credit.
A home improvement loan calculator can help you budget your project and determine potential loan payments. If you are thinking of updating your home, you may be interested to know that there are home improvement loan calculators online to help a homeowner determine what the payments will roughly be for a particular amount taken out. With a home improvement loan calculator, a potential homeowner who is interested in updating their home will be able to see how much home improvement loan rates will be based on the interest. These home improvement loan calculators are very easy to use. They will help to figure out an approximate cost based on the home improvement loan rates that are offered by the lender. Simply enter the loan amount, the time frame, interest rate, and the first due date, click submit and the online calculator will do the rest of the work for you. These calculators make it quite nice to compare how much you can save when you accelerate your payments and pay the loan down faster than the original schedule. Using this calculator is a smart option for homeowners who wish to see what options they really have, and to see what they can truly afford.
Finally, compare those fees carefully. When you meet with a lender, up-front costs will start with a credit report running $50 to $80 and possibly an appraisal, which should cost less than $300. Some lenders use your property-tax valuation, others won't. Often, you can reduce lending fees in a competitive market. And if you're asked for a nonrefundable application fee, beware; reputable lenders try to keep up-front fees low.
If you have very good to excellent credit, you can probably get approved for a new credit card that will charge you no interest on new purchases for nine to 18 months. Cards that have such an offer as of Dec. 5, 2016, include Chase Slate (0% APR for 15 months, no annual fee) and Capital One QuicksilverOne (0% APR for 9 months, $39 annual fee). Many other offers are available from both credit unions and banks. 
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.
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**Subject to credit approval. No down payment. Fixed APR of 7.99% for 90 months. Payment Example: Based on each $1,000 financed, 6 months of interest only payments in the amount of $6.66 followed by 84 amortized payments in the amount of $15.58. Payment Example: Based on $3,000 purchase, 6 months of interest only payments in the amount of $19.98 followed by 84 amortized payments in the amount of $46.74. See loan agreement or ask Associate for details. Not valid in Puerto Rico, USVI, and Guam. LICENSES: NMLS #1416362; CT SLC-1416362; NJ MT #1501607 C22
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.
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.

A credit card can be a better option for borrowing smaller amounts of money for your home improvements with lower interest rates than a personal loan. Credit cards can offer 0% interest rates for a set period of time on your larger purchases, which might include a new kitchen or bathroom suite. A credit card works best if you can pay it off quickly.
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.
Your home improvement ideas are as unique as you are and our range of financing options can help you realize those ideas in the way that makes the most sense for you. Narrow down your options using the information below and remember our financing representatives are available to answer any questions. Be sure to consider the costs associated with each option, including interest rate, when choosing a product.
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