How Does an Adjustable-Rate Mortgage Work?

An adjustable-rate mortgage (also called an ARM) is a mortgage where the interest rate changes. Monthly payments may go up or down.

Borrowers may be looking to save money with this type of mortgage because there’s usually an introductory period where the interest rate is lower than what they could get with a fixed-rate loan. The monthly payment is lower as a result.

Adjustable-rate mortgages can make sense in certain situations, such as when buyers only plan to own a home for a few years or for those looking to buy a home in a high-interest-rate environment. However, they’re not your only option if you’re looking at getting a mortgage in a high-interest-rate environment.

In this article, we’ll cover

•   What exactly is an adjustable-rate mortgage and how do they work?

•   What are the different types of ARMs you can apply for?

•   Pros and cons of an ARM

•   How the variable rate on an ARM is determined

•   How an ARM compares with a fixed-rate mortgage

•   Examples of when it does and doesn’t make sense to get an ARM

What Is an Adjustable-Rate Mortgage (ARM)?

An adjustable-rate mortgage is a type of mortgage loan where the interest rate can change periodically throughout the life of the loan. This means your monthly payment might increase or decrease over time.

They typically come in shorter terms, such as five, seven, or ten years and adjustment periods (how often the interest rate is evaluated and changed) of six months or one year. They may be useful as a financing tool for short-term situations, but there are some things to consider before taking on a mortgage like this.

How Adjustable-Rate Mortgages Work


The terms of an adjustable-rate mortgage are determined at the outset of the loan. You’ll decide on a type of ARM, apply with the lender of your choice, and start making payments once the loan closes.

What’s different about an ARM from other home mortgage loans is the interest rate will adjust periodically and your monthly payment will change. It’s typical to see an introductory period (a number of years) where your interest rate doesn’t change, however.

Types of Adjustable-Rate Mortgages


If you’ve started to look into financing a home purchase, then you’ve probably seen loans labeled with different numerals. Maybe you’re wondering, what is a 5/1 ARM? When you’re choosing mortgage terms, the different types of ARMs you can get correspond to the different terms (with 5, 7, and 10 year ARMs being the most common) and adjustment periods (typically 1 year or six months). An ARM is labeled with two numbers, first with the number of years in the introductory period, followed by the period when the interest rate will reset. A 5/1 ARM, for example, has a 5-year introductory period followed by one adjustment per year to the interest rate.

Here are some other examples:

•   5/6: A five-year term with an adjustment period of six months.

•   7/1: A seven-year term with an adjustment period of one year.

•   7/6: A seven-year term with an adjustment period of six months.

•   10/1: A ten-year term with an adjustment period of one year.

•   10/6: A ten-year term with an adjustment period of six months.

Recommended: Is a 10-Year Mortgage A Good Option?

Pros and Cons of Adjustable-Rate Mortgages


If you’re considering an ARM, you’re probably weighing the lower payment against future financial positions you’ll need to take. There are some other pros and cons to consider.

Pros

•   Many different term lengths to choose from

•   Low annual percentage rate

•   May start with a lower monthly payment than a fixed-rate mortgage

•   May be slightly easier to qualify for

Cons

•   Interest rate can change

•   You could end up with a higher monthly payment

•   If you’re unable to afford the higher monthly payment, your home could be in danger of foreclosure

Recommended: Cost of Living by State

How the Variable Rate on ARMs Is Determined

To fully understand how does an adjustable-rate mortgage work, it helps to see what’s going on behind the scenes of an ARM and how the rate is determined. You’ll be looking at these four components:

   1. Index

   2. Margin

   3. Interest rate cap structure

   4. Initial interest rate period

Index

The cost of an ARM is tied to a market index, generally the secured overnight financing rate (SOFR). These can increase when the federal funds rate rises.

Margin

The margin is the percentage points added to the cost of the index. It is disclosed when you apply for the loan and can vary from lender to lender, so be sure to shop around!

The interest rate on your ARM is equal to the index plus the margin.

Interest rate cap structure

There are three types of rate caps: initial, periodic and lifetime. For the initial period, the cap is on how much interest you’ll be charged in the first period of your loan. For example, in a 5/1 ARM, you’ll have an interest rate that stays the same for the initial period of 5 years.

When your initial period is over, you’ll have periodic adjustments. These will have a separate cap for how much your interest rate can increase over the defined period (usually six months or a year).

You’ll also have a cap on how much your interest rate can increase over the life of the loan.

Initial interest rate period

The cost of an ARM is also determined by how long the interest remains constant for the initial period. ARMs with longer initial periods generally have higher rates. A 7/1 ARM will have a higher APR than a 5/1 ARM, for example.



💡 Quick Tip: Generally, the lower your debt-to-income ratio, the better loan terms you’ll be offered. One way to improve your ratio is to increase your income (hello, side hustle!). Another way is to consolidate your debt and lower your monthly debt payments.

Adjustable-Rate Mortgage vs. Fixed-Interest Mortgage

When it comes to fixed-rate vs adjustable-rate mortgages, the mortgages are structured very differently. Here’s a quick breakdown of the major differences:

Adjustable-Rate Mortgage

Fixed-Rate Mortgage

Interest rate adjusts Interest rate stays the same
Terms are usually shorter, such as 5 to 7 years Terms are usually longer, such as 15 or 30 years
Loans are often refinanced at a later date Loan can be paid off
May have lower interest rate initially Interest rate does not change
Monthly payment changes Predictable monthly payment
Interest rate you pay is tied to economic conditions Interest rate determined at the origination of the mortgage

The main difference between fixed-rate and adjustable mortgages is in how you pay interest on the loan. With a fixed loan, the interest is paid with regular monthly payments, which are fairly set (except for fluctuations with escrow items). With an adjustable-rate mortgage, the interest you pay can change.

The other major difference between the two types of mortgages is the term length. Fixed mortgages are often financed at 15- or 30-year terms. ARMs are usually held for shorter periods of time.



💡 Quick Tip: A major home purchase may mean a jumbo loan, but it doesn’t have to mean a jumbo down payment. Apply for a jumbo mortgage with SoFi, and you could put as little as 10% down.

Example of When Adjustable-Rate Mortgages Makes Sense


There are a few scenarios where an ARM makes sense.

•   If you’re only planning to keep the home (or keep the mortgage) for a few years.

•   Interest rates are very high.

In each of these situations, borrowers — including first-time homebuyers — don’t plan to hold onto the mortgage long-term. They’re looking to sell the property or refinance at a future date.

However, there are times where an ARM doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Example of When Adjustable-Rate Mortgages Doesn’t Make Sense


An ARM may not make sense when the interest rate for a fixed-rate mortgage is low. This was common just a few years ago, and buyers who have these low-interest, fixed-rate mortgages don’t need to worry about getting another mortgage.

If you’re considering purchasing a home with an ARM, you may also want to look at buying down the interest rate on a fixed-rate mortgage with points, especially if you plan on staying in the home long-term.

Can You Refinance an ARM?


Many borrowers get an ARM with the expectation that they will be able to refinance into a different mortgage at a later date. Refinancing any mortgage, including an ARM, will depend on your ability to qualify for it. If your credit score or income take a serious hit, for example, you may not be able to refinance an ARM to get a more attractive rate. It’s also possible market conditions may change and the property could decline in value to the point that it isn’t a good candidate for a refinance.

Adjustable-Rate Mortgage Tips


To keep your ARM manageable, you may want to consider some of the following tips:

•   Look at the rate cap structure. Make sure you can handle the monthly payment all the way to the cap rate, which is the limit on how much your interest rate will increase.

•   Watch for fees or penalties. If you pay off the ARM early, you may be subject to several thousand dollars in penalties or fees. Be aware of what you could be on the hook for.

•   Shop around for mortgage rates. The interest rate caps and margins will be different from lender to lender. Get a loan estimate to ensure you’re comparing apples to apples.

•   Work with someone you trust. It’s incredibly valuable to work with a lender you trust to give you good advice.

The Takeaway


Many borrowers may be considering an ARM at the moment, but you still need to make sure it’s the right financial tool for you. Adjustable-rate mortgages can increase when interest rates increase and make your monthly mortgage payments unmanageable. However, it is possible that an ARM could be the right solution for buyers who don’t plan on keeping the home long-term, or for those who believe they’ll be able to refinance into a less expensive mortgage in a few years.

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.


SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.

FAQ

Is it ever a good idea to get an adjustable-rate mortgage?

You should get in contact with a lender if you’re wondering about whether or not an adjustable-rate mortgage is right for you. Some borrowers find it makes sense if they’re looking for financing that’s geared toward short-term situations.

What is the main downside of an adjustable-rate mortgage?

Adjustable-rate mortgages have interest rates that can rise periodically, either at 6 months or a year. You could end up with a higher mortgage payment.

What is the major risk of an ARM mortgage?

The major risk of an ARM is when it becomes unaffordable after an adjustment period. If a payment can’t be made, the risk is going down the path to foreclosure. This can happen after the introductory period ends or if an adjustment significantly raises the monthly payment.


Photo credit: iStock/Andrii Yalanskyi

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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How Much Should You Pay For a New Home?

If you’re thinking about buying a property, you may wonder how much you should pay for a new home. After all, that can impact the size (and type) of mortgage you apply for.

The truth is, though, your mortgage is just one piece of the puzzle when deciding how much to spend on a home. To figure out what you can realistically afford, you need to understand all of your potential housing costs, including what may seem like unexpected costs that crop up when you own a property. That way, you can truly prepare for how much money it will take to cover your expenses as a homeowner.

So, are you in the club of those who are wondering, “How much home can I afford?” Then read on for four important tips to help determine whether a home will suit your budget. Given how big an expense homeownership can be, you will likely want to be well armed with information before you start hitting the open houses and making bids.

1. Calculate Potential Housing Costs

If you’re calculating how much you should pay for a new home, it can be an important step to write down all potential costs connected with buying a house and then paying the monthly expenses. This list can include:

•   Down payment

•   Mortgage payment

•   Property taxes

•   Homeowners’ insurance

•   Mortgage insurance, if applicable

•   Closing costs.

Since the mortgage payment is typically a big-ticket budget item, it can be a good move to check out a few different options (say, fixed-rate vs. adjustable-rate; 15-year vs. 30-year terms) from a few lenders and at a couple of different amounts to get a handle on what that cost is likely to be.

Also, you may want to also make a list of:

•   Expected repairs

•   Planned updates/renovations.

Don’t forget about ongoing costs. It may be tempting to leave this out of your initial budget, but it’s unlikely you’ll find a place that won’t require some changes. These estimates could be a factor in your budget and your decision about what to buy. For instance, you’ll want to prepare for such expenses as:

•   Utilities. If you’re moving to a house from a small apartment, you could be paying considerably more in, say, heating and cooling costs.

•   Landscaping or other maintenance of your property beyond the house.

You’ll also likely want to make your new house a home, and there is nothing wrong with that as long as you’ve budgeted for the estimated expense. In other words, include the following in your calculations:

•   Moving costs

•   The cost of new furniture and furnishings (curtains, hardware, the works).

Although these latter expenses aren’t part of your required monthly housing payments, they’re worthwhile to keep in mind.


💡 Quick Tip: Buying a home shouldn’t be aggravating. SoFi’s online mortgage application is quick and simple, with dedicated Mortgage Loan Officers to guide you through the process.

Estimate Your Future Housing Costs

Need help figuring out these costs in more detail? The home affordability calculator below provides additional insight into how much it costs to purchase a home and the expected monthly payment associated with being a homeowner, including insurance costs, property taxes, and closing costs.

2. Determining What Is Paid Up Front

Now that you have an all-encompassing list of what you think a potential property might cost, both for a monthly payment and possible expenses, you can divvy up those costs into two categories: upfront costs and monthly costs.

Upfront costs include things like the down payment on the home and other fees such as closing costs and paying for home inspections. Monthly costs are your recurring mortgage payment, property taxes, and insurance(s), which may be rolled into the mortgage payment or paid separately. There are also other possible expenses you may pay down the line for furniture, repairs, renovations, etc.

This will help you get a handle on how much cash you will need to spend when getting a mortgage and becoming a homeowner. And it will also tell you what it will look like to keep your home up and running, month after month.

As you consider how much you should pay for a new home, know that it may be wise to have a cash buffer as you go into homeownership. In other words, don’t clean yourself out when buying a home. You don’t want to risk overdrafting your bank account, and you need to be prepared for how inflation could cause your expenses to tick up.

Recommended: What to Know About Getting Preapproved for a Home Loan

3. Look at Monthly Costs in Terms of Your Budget

Now that you have an idea of what your monthly housing costs could be, you can begin to fit those into your overall budget.

There are different budgeting methods, but most involve knowing and balancing your take-home pay, the cost of your “needs” and “wants” each month, and how much you are putting towards savings.

As you evaluate your projected homeowner figures, you want to ask yourself:

•   Do the numbers work, leaving you with some room to breathe?

•   Are you able to save for other financial goals, such as retirement?

•   Will you be able to maintain your current quality of life, or will you have to make cuts to accommodate your new housing expenses?

•   What do the numbers look like if you were to buy a somewhat more or less expensive home? (This can help you, especially if you are interested in a house that winds up in a bidding war and potentially selling for over the asking price.)

Overextending yourself in order to purchase a home is not recommended. Living paycheck to paycheck and worrying about money after you buy a property could take some joy out of your new nest.



💡 Quick Tip: You never know when you might need funds for an unexpected repair or other big bill. So apply for a HELOC (a home equity line of credit) brokered by SoFi today: You’ll help ensure the money will be there when you need it, and at lower interest rates than with most credit cards.2

4. Considering Unexpected Costs

Being a homeowner can be wonderful and rewarding, but it can also be expensive and, at times, exhausting. Roofs leak. Hot water heaters fizzle out. Gutters need cleaning.

You may want to set proper expectations regarding not only how much homeownership will cost in terms of the typical expenses, but also in terms of the full universe of maintenance and potential costs. Budget accordingly.

Next, you might want to consider what could happen in the event of a job layoff. Even great employees can lose their jobs, so have a plan in the event that this happens. And how would you keep up with costs in the unfortunate event of illness?

If you have no plan for how to make a mortgage payment in the event that you or your spouse loses work, you might not be quite ready for homeownership. You may want to build up your cash reserve before diving in.

For instance, most financial experts recommend that you save three to six months’ worth of expenses in an emergency fund in case of a job loss, health emergency, or other financially difficult events.

Those funds can be vital to see you through a tough financial moment. And if you do have this amount of money set aside (good job!), don’t be tempted to raid it for, say, your down payment or other costs related to buying a home. It’s a very important bundle of cash to have on reserve.

Recommended: How to Shop Around for a Mortgage Lender

The Takeaway

Buying a house can be a huge rite of passage and a big part of adulting. As you contemplate owning your own home, it’s important to be sure you understand both the upfront and ongoing costs of homeownership and know how they fit into your budget. In addition, understanding the unexpected expenses that may crop up can be a wise move.

A key part of your calculations will be checking your mortgage options and how much that will cost you every month. This can be one of the big recurring costs to budget for.

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.


SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.


*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

²

To obtain a home equity loan, SoFi Bank (NMLS #696891) may assist you obtaining a loan from Spring EQ (NMLS #1464945).

All loan terms, fees, and rates may vary based upon individual financial and personal circumstances and state.

You may discuss with your loan officer whether a SoFi Mortgage or a home equity loan from Spring EQ is appropriate. Please note that the SoFi member discount does not apply to Home Equity Loans or Lines of Credit brokered through SoFi. Terms and conditions will apply. Before you apply for a SoFi Mortgage, please note that not all products are offered in all states, and all loans are subject to eligibility restrictions and limitations, including requirements related to loan applicant’s credit, income, property, and loan amount. Minimum loan amount is $75,000. Lowest rates are reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. Products, rates, benefits, terms, and conditions are subject to change without notice. Learn more at SoFi.com/eligibility-criteria.

SoFi Mortgages originated through SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org). Equal Housing Lender. SoFi Bank, N.A. is currently NOT able to accept applications for refinance loans in NY.

In the event SoFi serves as broker to Spring EQ for your loan, SoFi will be paid a fee.

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What Is a Mortgage? Understanding the Basics

If you’re dreaming of owning your own home, whether that means a cute Colonial or a loft-style condo, you are likely contemplating financing, and that can mean a mortgage. A home loan can give you the funds required to purchase a property, but there can be a learning curve involved, especially if you are a first-time homebuyer. For instance, what term should you select? How do mortgage interest rates work, and is a fixed rate typically best?

In this guide, you’ll get the scoop on how home loans work, what kind of options you have, and how to assess which loan could be right for you.

What is a Mortgage?

A mortgage loan, also known simply as a mortgage, is issued to a borrower who is either buying or refinancing real estate.

The borrower signs a legal agreement that gives the lender the ability to take ownership of the property if the loan holder doesn’t make payments according to the agreed-upon terms.

Once issued a mortgage, the homebuyer will pay monthly principal (that’s the lump sum of the loan) and interest payments for a specific term. The most common term for a fixed-rate mortgage is 30 years, but terms of 20, 15, and even 10 years are available.

A shorter-term translates to a higher monthly payment but lower total interest costs. Put another way, you pay more every month, but the amount of interest over the life of the loan is lower.


💡 Quick Tip: You deserve a more zen mortgage loan. When you buy a home, SoFi offers a guarantee that your loan will close on time. Backed by a $5,000 credit.‡

A Buffet of Mortgage Choices

When homebuyers apply for a loan, they’ll need to choose whether they want a fixed interest rate or an adjustable rate and the length of the loan.

Fixed-Rate Mortgage

The interest rate on the home loan doesn’t change, so the monthly principal and interest payment remains the same for the life of the loan. Whether mortgage rates increase or decrease, the loan holder is locked in for their monthly payment.

Adjustable-Rate Mortgage (ARM)

With an ARM, the interest rate is generally fixed for an initial period of time, such as five, seven, or 10 years, and then switches to a variable rate of interest. The rate fluctuates with the rate index that it’s tied to.

As the rate changes, monthly payments may increase or decrease. These loans generally have yearly and lifetime interest rate caps (or maximums) that limit how high the variable rate can adjust to.

Next, borrowers will need to decide what type of mortgage loan works best for them.

Conventional Loans

Conventional loans are loans that are not backed by a government agency and must adhere to the requirements of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or other investors. Typically, conventional loans are issued with at least 3% down. However, it’s worth noting that private mortgage insurance (commonly known as PMI) is generally required on loans with a down payment of less than 20%.

The coverage protects the lender against the risk of default. Your mortgage servicer must cancel your PMI when the mortgage balance reaches 78% of the home’s value or when the mortgage hits the halfway point of the loan term, if you’re in good standing.

PMI typically costs 0.2% to 2% of the loan amount per year.

Down payment: Generally between 3% and 20% of the purchase price or appraised value of the home, depending on the lender’s requirements.

FHA Loans

Loans insured by the Federal Housing Authority, or FHA loans, can be attractive to first-time homebuyers or those who struggle to meet the minimum requirements for a conventional loan.

These loans usually require a one-time upfront mortgage insurance premium (or MIP vs. PMI), which typically can be added to the mortgage, and an annual insurance premium, which is collected in monthly installments for the life of the loan in most cases.

Down payment: Starts at 3.5%

Recommended: First-Time Homebuyer Guide

VA Loans

Loans guaranteed by the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs are available to veterans, active-duty service members, and eligible surviving spouses.

VA-backed loans require a one-time “VA funding fee,” which can be rolled into the loan. The fee is based on a percentage of the loan amount and may be waived for certain disabled vets. The current range is from 1.5% to 3.3% of the loan amount.

Down payment: None for approximately 80% of VA-backed home loans.


💡 Quick Tip: A VA loan can make home buying simple for qualified borrowers. Because the VA guarantees a portion of the loan, you could skip a down payment. Plus, you could qualify for lower interest rates, enjoy lower closing costs, and even bypass mortgage insurance.†

How Does a Mortgage Work?

There are several components to a monthly mortgage payment.

Principal: The principal is the value of the loan. The portion of the payment made toward the principal reduces how much a borrower owes on the loan.

Interest: Each month, interest will be factored into payments according to an amortization schedule. Even though a borrower’s fixed payment may stay the same over the course of the loan, the amount allocated toward interest generally decreases over time while the portion allocated to principal increases.

Taxes: To ensure that a borrower makes annual property tax payments, a lender may collect monthly property taxes with the monthly mortgage payment. This money can be kept in an escrow account until the property tax bill is due, and the lender can make the property tax payment at that time.

Homeowners insurance: Mortgage lenders usually require evidence of homeowners insurance, which can cover damage from catastrophes such as fire and storms. As with property taxes, many lenders collect the insurance premiums as part of the monthly payment and pay for the annual insurance premium out of an escrow account. Depending on your property location, you may have to add flood, wind, or other additional insurance.

Mortgage insurance: When a borrower presents a down payment of less than 20% of the value of the home, mortgage lenders typically require private mortgage insurance. When developing a budget for owning a home, it’s important to know the difference between mortgage insurance and homeowners insurance and whether both are required.

Reverse Mortgage Loans: What Are They?

A reverse mortgage is available to homeowners 62 and older to supplement their income or pay for healthcare expenses by tapping into their home equity.

The loan can come in the form of a lump-sum payment, monthly payments, a line of credit, or a combination, usually tax-free. Interest accrues on the loan balance, but no payments are required. When a borrower dies, sells the property, or moves out permanently, the loan must be repaid entirely.

The fees for an FHA-insured home equity conversion mortgage, typically the most common type of reverse mortgage, can add up:

•  An initial mortgage insurance premium of 2% and an annual MIP that equals 0.5% of the outstanding mortgage balance

•  Third-party charges for closing costs

•  Loan origination fee

•  Loan servicing fees

You can pay for most of the costs of the loan from the proceeds, which will reduce the net loan amount available to you.

You remain responsible for property taxes, homeowners insurance, utilities, maintenance, and other expenses.

A HUD site details all the criteria for borrowers, financial requirements, eligible property types, and how to find an HECM counselor, a mandatory step.

If you’re considering a reverse mortgage, learn as much as you can about this often complicated kind of mortgage before talking to a counselor or lender, the Federal Trade Commission advises.

How to Get A Mortgage

For many people, it can be a good idea to shop around to get an idea of what is out there.

Not only will you need to choose the lender, but you’ll need to decide on the length of the loan, whether to go with a fixed or variable interest rate, and weigh the applicable loan fees.

The first step is to have an idea of what you want and then seek out quotes from a few lenders. That way, you can do a side-by-side comparison of the loans.

Once you’ve selected a few lenders to get started with, the next step is to get prequalified or preapproved for a loan. Based on a limited amount of information, a lender will estimate how much it is willing to lend you.

When you’re serious about taking out a mortgage loan and putting an offer on a house, the next step is to get preapproved with a lender.

During the preapproval process, the lender will take a closer look at your finances, including your credit, employment, income, and assets to determine exactly what you qualify for. Once you’re preapproved, you’re likely to be considered a more serious buyer by home sellers.

When shopping around for a mortgage, it can be a good idea to consider the overall cost of the mortgage and any fees.

For example, some lenders may charge an origination fee for creating the loan, or a prepayment penalty if you want to pay back the loan ahead of schedule. There may also be fees to third parties that provide information or services required to process, approve, and close your loan.

To compare the true cost of two or more mortgage loans, it’s best to look at the annual percentage rate, or APR, not just the interest rate. The interest rate is the rate used to calculate your monthly payment, but the APR is an approximation of all of the costs associated with a loan, including the interest rate and other fees, expressed as a percentage. The APR makes it easier to compare the total cost of a loan across different offerings so you can assess what is a good mortgage rate for your budget.

The Takeaway

If the world of mortgages feels like a mystery to you, you are not alone. Before taking on this colossal commitment, it can be best to soak up as much as you can about how mortgage loans work, what kinds of mortgages are available, potential challenges, and steps to qualify. You’ll be better prepared to take on what can be a major step in your personal financial journey.

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.


SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.


Veterans, Service members, and members of the National Guard or Reserve may be eligible for a loan guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. VA loans are subject to unique terms and conditions established by VA and SoFi. Ask your SoFi loan officer for details about eligibility, documentation, and other requirements. VA loans typically require a one-time funding fee except as may be exempted by VA guidelines. The fee may be financed or paid at closing. The amount of the fee depends on the type of loan, the total amount of the loan, and, depending on loan type, prior use of VA eligibility and down payment amount. The VA funding fee is typically non-refundable. SoFi is not affiliated with any government agency.
SoFi On-Time Close Guarantee: If all conditions of the Guarantee are met, and your loan does not close on or before the closing date on your purchase contract accepted by SoFi, and the delay is due to SoFi, SoFi will provide you $2,000.^ Terms and conditions apply. This Guarantee is available only for loan applications submitted after 6/15/22 for the purchase of a primary residence. Please discuss terms of this Guarantee with your loan officer. The property must be owner-occupied, single-family residence (no condos), and the loan amount must meet the Fannie Mae conventional guidelines. No bank-owned or short-sale transactions. To qualify for the Guarantee, you must: (1) Have employment income supported by W-2, (2) Receive written approval by SoFi for the loan and you lock the rate, (3) submit an executed purchase contract on an eligible property at least 30 days prior to the closing date in the purchase contract, (4) provide to SoFi (by upload) all required documentation within 24 hours of SoFi requesting your documentation and upload any follow-up required documents within 36 hours of the request, and (5) pay for and schedule an appraisal within 48 hours of the appraiser first contacting you by phone or email. The Guarantee will be void and not paid if any delays to closing are due to factors outside of SoFi control, including delays scheduling or completing the appraisal appointment, appraised value disputes, completing a property inspection, making repairs to the property by any party, addressing possible title defects, natural disasters, further negotiation of or changes to the purchase contract, changes to the loan terms, or changes in borrower’s eligibility for the loan (e.g., changes in credit profile or employment), or if property purchase does not occur. SoFi may change or terminate this offer at any time without notice to you. ^To redeem the Guarantee if conditions met, see documentation provided by loan officer.

*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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7 Tips for Buying a Home in the Off-Season

Spring has been a traditional house-hunting season. That’s when parents of school-age kids often look for a place to call home — one they can settle into before classes begin in September.

And summer certainly has its merits for looking at houses, from the comfort of walk-throughs in warm weather to seeing gardens in full bloom.

But buying a house in winter can be a wise move. The so-called “off season” bestows some very real benefits for those who are looking for a new place. These may include everything from less competition (and fewer bidding wars) to faster closing schedules.

While increasing mortgage rates and low inventory have led to high home prices in recent years, industry watchers are expecting prices to decline in some “hot” markets (like Texas and Florida) in late 2023, early 2024. That suggests that the winter ahead might be a good time to bundle up and rev up a home search.

Read on to learn seven smart benefits of shopping for a house in winter. You just might snag a great deal on your dream house.

Why You Should Buy a Home in Winter

Wondering why you should consider buying a house in winter, when the days may be short, the trees bare, and the weather nasty? Here are some very good reasons.

1. Having Less Competition for Homes

Not everyone wants to or is able to shop for houses during the winter months. Freezing temperatures and inclement weather can keep would-be homebuyers away.

During the winter season, many parents are busy managing school schedules and events, and many people are also busy traveling and hosting guests over the holidays.

But there’s an upside: Fewer people shopping for homes could mean less competition for those in the market for a house. And diminished competition might mean winter homebuyers can be more discerning in their choices. There’s less pressure to snap up a house for fear another buyer will get to it first. In addition, you may be less likely to end up in a bidding war with a slew of other interested buyers, which can drive up costs.

While there are often fewer houses for sale during the winter, buyers may be more likely to land their desired home closer to the asking price (or even below).


💡 Quick Tip: When house hunting, don’t forget to lock in your home mortgage loan rate so there are no surprises if your offer is accepted.

2. Profiting from a Buyer’s Market in Winter

With some buyers distracted by the jam-packed holidays, it can be trickier to sell a home in the wintertime. Some sellers only put their homes on the market in the winter because they really have to.

The seller’s snag, though, can be a boon for buyers, as winter homesellers may be more motivated to get the sale completed faster than their summertime counterparts.

Motivated winter sellers might be willing to negotiate on things like price, closing costs, and the closing date. Perhaps they need to relocate for work or another time-sensitive reason and are eager to get the deal done.

In some cases,houses that are on the market in the winter have been there since the summer selling season. Homes like these are sometimes referred to as “stale listings.” The seller may be ready to take what would previously be deemed a too-low offer, just to move ahead with a deal.

Recommended: A Guide to Counter Offers

3. Closing on Your Purchase Faster in Winter

Closing is when the title of a property legally changes hands from the seller to the buyer. When buyers and sellers are negotiating the sale of a home, they work together to set a closing date when the house title will officially transfer between the parties.

Real estate agents often work with mortgage brokers to find a suitable day that will allow enough time for the deal to be executed properly.

In warmer months, banks, inspectors, and appraisers are usually handling a lot of new buyers. In practice, this glut of interested buyers could mean mortgage brokers are backed up for weeks or even months.

In the winter, when fewer interested buyers are typically calling, things can slow down for lenders. As a result, cold-weather buyers might be able to close on their homes faster and get settled in more quickly.

Recommended: What Are the Different Types of Mortgage Loans?

4. Understanding a Home’s Condition More Clearly

Visiting a property in person can tell a buyer a lot about a home. But, in the summertime, some of a house’s less attractive qualities can be masked by warm weather, blossoming gardens, and the brilliant summer sun.

Seeing a house in the winter can give buyers a chance to understand how it holds up under tougher conditions. Is the house too gloomy in low light? Does cold air creep in from the windows? Does ice jam up the gutters causing the roof to leak? Does a long driveway that needs to be shoveled seem less appealing in the winter than in June? You could be destined for some home maintenance costs. Getting a chance to suss out potential problems like these can provide a fuller picture of what actually living in a property might be like year-round.

Keep in mind, though, that some aspects of a home can be harder to grasp in the winter months. For example, it’s tough to test out an air conditioning unit in the wintertime. And snow could cover up foundation issues.


💡 Quick Tip: To see a house in person, particularly in a tight or expensive market, you may need to show the real estate agent proof that you’re preapproved for a mortgage. SoFi’s online application makes the process simple.

5. Hiring Movers Can Be Easier in Winter

Let’s say you do find a new home and move forward with buying a house in winter. Moving costs in the winter can be cheaper than in the summer. Fewer people buying homes means less demand for movers, which in turn could mean more competitive pricing.

With lighter schedules, moving companies may also be more flexible and able to accommodate your desired moving dates. (It can be helpful to stay flexible with move dates in the winter, since a big snowstorm might mean sudden delays.)

Still, if you move when snow is falling, that will obviously slow down your move and make it pricier. Try to reschedule if inclement weather is in the forecast.

6. Getting More Time and Attention from Realtors

Movers aren’t the only people who are less busy in the winter months. Fewer people shopping for houses could mean there’s less work for real estate agents.

Agents may have more time in the winter to spend helping individual buyers find the house that meets their exact needs. Also, when it comes time to negotiate, agents may have more hours to go to bat for their clients to secure a better deal.

7. Taking Advantage of Last-Minute Tax Savings

Buying a house by late December (rather than waiting until the following spring) may allow buyers to take advantage of last-minute savings on that year’s taxes.

The mortgage interest deduction allows homeowners to subtract mortgage interest from their taxable income, lowering the amount of taxes they owe. Married couples filing jointly and single filers can deduct the interest on mortgages up to $750,000. Married taxpayers filing separately can deduct up to $375,000 each.

However, you cannot deduct mortgage interest in addition to taking the standard deduction. To take the mortgage interest deduction, you’ll need to itemize. Itemizing only makes sense if your itemized deductions total more than the standard deduction. For the 2023 tax year, the standard deduction is $13,850 for single filers and $27,700 for those married, filing jointly.

Recommended: How to Qualify for a Mortgage: 9 Requirements for a Mortgage Loan

Financing Your Home Purchase

No matter what season you may be house-hunting, it’s important to figure out how to finance a potential purchase before you find the home that’s “The One.”

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.


SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.

https://www.sofi.com/signup/mort“>


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.


SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.

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How to Pay for Emergency Home Repairs, So You Can Move on ASAP

If you’re a homeowner, you may know those “uh-oh” moments when the basement floods or the roof leaks. If you’re in that situation, you may well need a considerable amount of cash to pay for repairs ASAP.

In this guide, you’ll learn the ballpark prices for some of the most common home repairs so you are better prepared if an emergency strikes. You’ll also gain insight into some financing options so if you find yourself dealing with an unexpected and significant bill, you can decide which source of funding is best for your needs.

How Much Do Common Home Repairs Cost?

From the roof to foundation, there are a lot of things in and on a home that might need to be repaired. Among these features are things that might be emergency home repairs at some point, whether that means you’ve discovered black mold in the basement or a kitchen appliance has conked out. Here, learn about some of the most common home repair costs.


💡 Quick Tip: Some lenders can release funds as quickly as the same day your loan is approved. SoFi personal loans offer same-day funding for qualified borrowers.

Roof

A home’s roof has a certain life expectancy, generally based on the material used. A roof made of asphalt shingles might last from 15 to 30 years, while concrete- or clay-tiled roof could last for more than 50 years.

Regular roof inspections are a good way to identify any minor problems, which may typically cost about $220, but can vary with your specific home and the region you live in. Minor repairs might include:

•   Gutter cleaning.

•   Patching leaks.

•   Replacing shingles.

•   Repairing flashing.

Issues found during a roof inspection might average $1,100. Replacing a roof, a major expense, may be necessary at some point in the life of a home. For an average-sized home, a completely new roof can cost $9,217 on average.

Foundation

Foundation issues can show up as cracks in a home’s walls, floors that are not level, gaps around windows, or doors that don’t close properly. Fixing these symptoms of a foundation issue won’t solve the underlying problem, but repairing the foundation at the earliest sign of the symptoms may mean a less costly foundation repair.

Hiring a structural engineer can be a good first step if there appear to be major foundation problems, as they won’t be trying to sell a product to fix any potential problems, so will likely be unbiased. A structural inspection typically costs about $600.

•   Cracks in a foundation that don’t affect the structure are minor repairs but are best not ignored, lest they lead to major issues. Potential cost: between $250 and $800.

•   A leaking foundation might be the cause of those cracks. Waterproofing a foundation, which may involve excavating around the foundation, installing tile drains, filling cracks, and then coating the structure with a sealant, can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $7,000.

•   A house with a settling or sinking foundation may have flooring that is warped or sloping, doors and windows that don’t open and close properly, or even exterior cracks, or other apparent issues. The cost generally depends on the type of repair. Raising a house using piers can cost between $1,000 and $3,000, while jacking might be between $600 and $1,600.

Water Damage

Water damage in a basement might be due to flooding from a storm or broken water line, for example, and is best fixed quickly so mold doesn’t grow and become another issue to take care of. In addition to being an unpleasant sight, standing water can cause structural or electrical issues in a home. Extraction of the water is generally the first step in this type of repair, followed by any necessary structural repairs.

•   For simple fixes, such as cleaning up after an overflowing toilet, the cost might be around $150.

•   Water damage restoration, though, is a bigger ticket item, averaging between $1,300 and $5,600, though it could go higher. If your entire home’s wood flooring is warped by water damage or basement flooding wrecks your electrical panel, that could spiral into five figures.

Recommended: How Much Does It Cost to Finish a Basement?

Mold

If the above water issues are not fixed in a timely manner, mold can grow on the surfaces, requiring additional necessary repairs. In addition to damaging any surface mold grows on, it’s also a serious health hazard, potentially causing allergic reactions, asthma attacks, and skin irritation.

Mold remediation costs average between $5,000 and $30,000 for a 2,000 square foot home. If the mold issue is localized (say, just in the attic or basement), your costs could be anywhere from $500 to $7,500 on average, depending on the specifics of your situation.

Pests and Rodents

Pests and rodents in a home can be more than just annoying. Infestations might cause major damage to a home if left untreated. One-time pest control costs around $450 on average. Ongoing services may cost $50 or more a month.

Attics can be inviting spaces to rodents like mice, rats, or squirrels, or other animals such as raccoons or bats. Eliminating the problem can cost $200 to $600 typically.

Awarded Best Online Personal Loan by NerdWallet.
Apply Online, Same Day Funding


HVAC

A home’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems control the regulation and movement of air throughout the building. Like other components in a home, it’s wise to have an HVAC system inspected regularly to catch any problems before they become serious (as in, needing to pull together the cost of replacing an HVAC system). A standard tune-up for an HVAC system might cost between $150 and $450, with any potential repairs added to that. Some companies might offer ongoing maintenance plans, which could be a cost saver over time.

And what if the entire HVAC system needs replacing? Your price tag could be between $5,000 and $12,000 or higher. This could be a good opportunity to investigate any rebates available. For instance, if you buy an eco-conscious heat pump, you might find rebates as part of the Inflation Reduction Act.


💡 Quick Tip: Unsecured home improvement loans don’t use your house as collateral — a relief for many homeowners.

Electrical

Electrical issues in a house can vary from minor repairs, such as replacing an outlet, to wiring overhauls that may require professional help.

•   Hiring an electrician to replace a home’s outlets, light fixtures, and switches can cost around $280 on average. For someone who is confident in their DIY skills, this relatively simple job can be done for about $5 per outlet.

•   Replacing a circuit breaker or the entire electrical panel is something homeowners might leave to a professional. Costs will depend on the number of breakers being replaced or, in the case of replacing the electrical panel, how many amps. Panel replacement or upgrade can be anywhere from $2,000 to $6,000.

•   Rewiring a home can be quite expensive and include other repairs, such as plaster or drywall repair. To rewire an entire home, a homeowner might expect to pay between $2,500 and $6,000 for a three-bedroom house.

Ways To Finance an Emergency Home Repair

Even with regular inspections and maintenance, sometimes emergency home repairs are necessary. Some roof tiles may blow away, allowing rain in, or mold can take root in a damp basement. How to pay for home repairs (especially major ones) might involve using a variety of sources, depending on what is available and a person’s individual financial circumstances.

Homeowners Insurance

Homeowners insurance may be the first source most homeowners look to when needing to pay for emergency home repairs. The policy will stipulate what is covered, how much the company will pay, and any amount the homeowner might be responsible for, such as a deductible.

Some things a typical homeowners insurance policy might cover are costs to repair or rebuild after a disaster, replacement of personal belongings that were destroyed because of a disaster, or the costs of alternative housing while repairs are being made or a house is being rebuilt.

Emergency Fund

If there is a sufficient amount in an emergency fund, paying for an unexpected home repair with cash on hand is an option that won’t incur interest. How much to save in a home repair emergency fund will depend on the home’s size, age, and value. Older or more expensive homes might mean higher repair costs.

A typical recommendation is to save between 1% and 3% of a home’s value in a home repair emergency fund. So for a home valued at $500,000, this means having between $5,000 and $15,000 saved for emergency home repairs. This is a goal to work toward, but even having $1,000 in savings can be helpful.

If you do dip into your fund to fix your house, it can be like an emergency home repair loan, without any interest charged or monthly repayment schedule.

Home Equity

Homeowners who have built up equity in their homes may choose to use that equity to get money for home repairs. Using this type of financing, however, does come with some risk because the home is used as collateral. If the borrower defaults, the lender may seize the home as a way to repay the debt.

There are two types of loans that are based on a home’s equity: home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs).

•   A home equity loan is a fixed-rate, lump-sum loan. It has a set repayment term, and the borrower makes regular, fixed payments consisting of principal and interest.

•   A HELOC also uses the equity a homeowner has built up, but the borrower does not receive a lump sum. Instead, they access the loan funds as needed until the loan term ends. Funds can be borrowed, repaid, and borrowed again, up to the limits of the loan.

HELOCs are variable-rate loans and consist of two periods: a draw period and a repayment period. The draw period is the time during which money can be borrowed, and might be 10 years. The repayment period is the time during which the loan is repaid and might last for 20 years. The combination of the two would make this example a 30-year HELOC.

Recommended: The Different Types Of Home Equity Loans

Assistance Programs

If emergency home repairs are required but the homeowner can’t afford to pay for them, assistance programs might be an option to look into.

•   Government loan or grant assistance. The U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) , Agriculture (USDA), and Veterans Affairs (VA) offer grants and loans to eligible homeowners for home repairs and improvements.

•   Disaster relief. HUD offers several programs for homeowners affected by federally declared disaster areas. HUD partners with other federal and state agencies to provide relief in the form of mortgage assistance, relocation, food distribution, and other types of disaster relief.

•   Community Assistance Programs. Funding assistance may be able to be found by looking at local sources, such as county or city governments or charities. A good place to start a search is through HUD’s state listings .

Credit Card

Using a credit card to finance unexpected and urgent work on your home may seem like an easy fix. It can certainly be a quick way to pay for such repairs and a viable option if you’re thinking of how to pay for home repairs with no money withdrawn from your bank account. There are pros and cons to using a credit card for this purpose.

•   On the positive side: If the credit card is a zero-percent-interest card — and the balance can be paid in full before the promotional period ends — this can be a way to pay for an emergency home repair without paying interest.

•   As for disadvantages, credit cards are more likely to have high-interest rates, which can add a significant amount to the account balance if not paid off quickly.

•   Credit cards also come with borrowing limits. A major emergency home repair might max out this limit or even exceed it.

•   In addition, using all available credit can potentially have a negative effect on a borrower’s credit score. It can raise a person’s credit-utilization ratio. And if they are applying for a loan, it could raise their debt-to-income ratio, which might make getting a favorable loan rate a challenge.

Should I Get a Home Repair Loan?

Another option to pay for emergency home repairs might be a home improvement loan, which is a type of personal loan.

•   An unsecured personal loan does not use collateral, like a home equity loan or HELOC, so the borrower is not risking losing their home if they can’t repay the loan. The potential loan value is also not limited by the amount of equity in the home.

•   An unsecured personal loan may be funded more quickly than a home equity loan or HELOC. Because there is no collateral to determine a value for, this cuts out a potentially time-consuming step included in secured loans.

•   How can you use a personal loan? They can be tapped for a variety of reasons, not just emergency home repairs. If there are expected repairs, planned repairs, or home renovations that might make a home more livable, an unsecured loan can be a good option.

The Takeaway

It’s probably safe to say that nobody likes to think about emergencies. But it’s wise to be prepared in the event that one arises. When pricey home repairs are required, a personal loan may be the option that works best for your financial situation.

Think twice before turning to high-interest credit cards. Consider a SoFi personal loan instead. SoFi offers competitive fixed rates and same-day funding. Checking your rate takes just a minute.


SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2023 winner for Best Online Personal Loan overall.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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