How Much Income Is Needed for a \$175,000 Mortgage?

Homeownership continues to be a key part of the American dream. But exactly how much money do you need to make if living the dream means taking on a \$175,000 mortgage? While the specific income figures required vary depending on other financial factors, a \$175,000 mortgage will likely require an income in the neighborhood of \$60,000.

There are several rules of thumb you can follow to get an estimate of how much mortgage you can afford. Let’s take a closer look.

Income Needed for a \$175,000 Mortgage

Unfortunately there is not a simple answer to the question of how much income you need to qualify for a mortgage. That’s because mortgage qualification involves a complex calculation that factors in other finance figures like your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, how much money you have for a down payment, your credit score, and even your location.

However, there are generally accepted formulas that can help us get a ballpark income estimate, all other things being equal.

How Much Do You Need to Make to Get a \$175K Mortgage?

That formula we were talking about states your housing payment should be about 30% of your gross income — that is, the amount you earn each month before taking out taxes and deductions. From here, we can do some reverse engineering. Using an online mortgage calculator, you can estimate the monthly payment on a \$175,000 mortgage. (Along with the property’s total value and your projected down payment, you’ll also need to put in an estimated interest rate. Keep in mind that the rate you qualify for will depend on your credit score, and that baseline interest rates change regularly as the market fluctuates.)

Say you’re buying a \$200,000 house with a \$25,000 down payment, leading to your \$175,000 mortgage. At an estimated 7% interest rate, your monthly mortgage loan payment would be around \$1,170. When you add taxes, insurance, and private mortgage insurance (PMI), your total monthly payment will be around \$1,600. For simplicity’s sake, we can multiply that total by three to find out an approximate minimum monthly gross income at which such a mortgage is affordable. When we do, we get \$4,800, or about \$58,000 in annual income.

Still, keep in mind that a home affordability calculator can provide only an estimate. Many other factors play into your actual monthly mortgage payment, including property taxes in your area, and your DTI ratio.

This last piece is a big enough deal in the world of home-lending that it’s worth taking some time to explore, so let’s do that now.

What Is a Good Debt-to-Income Ratio?

Your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio is the amount of debt you owe each month versus your available income. It’s calculated by dividing your monthly debt payments by your gross monthly income. For instance, if you earn \$3,500 per month and pay \$500 toward your car payment and \$350 toward student loans, your DTI ratio would be calculated like so:

(500+350)/3,500 = 0.24, or a DTI of 24%

While each lender has its own specific qualifying criteria, generally speaking, a lower DTI is better. Most lenders will begin to disapprove applicants whose DTI hits 36% or so, though you may be able to get approved with a DTI of up to 50% in some cases. (Still, even if you can get approved, a higher DTI ratio likely means your housing payment will be more difficult to make each month.)

What Determines How Much House You Can Afford?

As we’ve seen already, there are lots of different factors that determine how much house you can afford. A few of those include:

•   The cost of living in your location

What Mortgage Lenders Look For

While, again, each specific mortgage lender has its own qualifying criteria (and these may also shift depending on what kind of mortgage you’re applying for), some of the primary factors lenders look as an applicant goes through the mortgage preapproval process include:

•   Reliable and sufficient income

•   Favorable credit history and credit score

•   Sufficient existing assets, such as cash and investments

•   Reasonable levels of existing debt (DTI ratio)

\$175,000 Mortgage Breakdown Examples

A little-understood characteristic of mortgages: Although each monthly payment is identical (in the case of a fixed-rate mortgage, at least), the proportional amount of each payment that goes toward interest varies over the life of the loan. Toward the beginning of your loan, the bulk of your monthly payment is going toward interest rather than principal, which helps ensure the lender gets paid for its services. This breakdown is known as the amortization of the loan, and it’s well worth looking up ahead of time so you understand exactly how much of your money is going where.

Looking up the amortization schedule ahead of time can also reveal how much you’ll pay in interest over the entire lifetime of the loan, which depends on your interest rate and loan term. Here are two examples of how the same \$175,000 loan breaks down differently depending on these factors:

10-year fixed rate loan at 7.00%
Monthly payment: \$2,032
Total paid over the life of the loan: \$243,828
Total interest paid: \$68,828

30-year fixed rate loan at 7.00%
Monthly payment: \$1,164
Total paid over the life of the loan: \$419,140
Total interest paid: \$244,140

Pros and Cons of a \$175,000 Mortgage

Like any decision in life, financial or otherwise, there are both drawbacks and benefits to consider when you’re contemplating taking out a \$175,000 mortgage. Here are a few of them at a glance:

Pros

•   A \$175,000 mortgage is substantially lower than the median sale price of homes in the United States as per the first quarter of 2024 (\$420,800).

•   Although there’s no guarantee, homes do tend to appreciate over time, which means the debt may be worth it in the long run, even with interest.

•   Owning your own home offers stability and can help build generational wealth.

•   The interest on your housing payment may be tax deductible.

•   If you pay your mortgage on time each month, your credit score may improve.

Cons

•   Interest means you’ll likely pay far more than the home is worth today over the lifetime of the loan.

•   If you fall behind on your mortgage payments, you’re at risk of having your home go into foreclosure.

•   As a homeowner, you’ll be responsible for any and all maintenance and repairs your home requires.

•   Along with your mortgage, you’ll also need to pay property taxes, homeowners insurance, and other related costs.

How Much Will You Need for a Down Payment?

While a well-known rule of thumb states that homebuyers should save up a 20% down payment before they make a purchase, these days you can put down far less than that. For example, many conventional mortgages allow first-time borrowers to put down as little as 3%, which, for a \$200,000 home purchase, adds up to \$6,000. (A 20% down payment would be \$40,000.)

However, keep in mind that a lower down payment means you’ll likely need to pay for PMI. This cost can add a few hundred dollars to your monthly payment, which can make it harder for some borrowers to make ends meet each month.

Is a \$175K Mortgage With No Down Payment a Good Idea?

There are some programs, such as VA loans (from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs), that allow borrowers to take out a mortgage with no down payment at all. However, even if you qualify for such a loan, it’s important to consider its potential drawbacks before you agree.

Because a low- or no-down-payment mortgage may be seen as a riskier prospect to the lender, it may come at a higher interest rate — which could drive up how much you pay in total over the lifetime of the loan. It also means you’ll start out your homeownership journey with no equity in your house, meaning the value of your share of the ownership will build more slowly over time.

Still, these programs can help some borrowers buy a house far sooner than they might otherwise be able to, while keeping some funds freed up for other costs (including potential home maintenance and repair). In short, only you can decide if a no-down-payment mortgage is a good move for you, but be sure you’re making the decision with knowledge on your side.

Can’t Afford a \$175K Mortgage With No Down Payment?

If you’re having trouble qualifying for a \$175,000 mortgage, even without a down payment, there are some steps you can take to help get your ducks in a row — and make your homeownership dreams possible in the not-too-distant future.

Pay Off Debt

Given how important DTI is when it comes to qualifying mortgage applicants, paying off existing debt can be a huge boon toward getting your application approved — and it’ll also make paying your monthly mortgage a lot easier.

There are many first-time homebuyer programs out there that are specifically designed to help people whose financial histories may be a little shorter or spottier. For instance, depending on your income, your local government may offer low-cost down payment assistance loans, and you can also look into an FHA mortgage, which is backed by the Federal Housing Administration and can help those with lower credit scores get qualified.

Build Up Credit

While it’s possible to qualify for a home loan with a lower credit score, if you build it up, it’s a whole lot easier — and you’ll likely get a better interest rate, which will lower your overall costs. Some reliable ways to build your credit include making on-time payments and lowering your overall revolving balance.

Start Budgeting

Budgeting is the best way to meet just about any financial goal — because when you do, you’ve got a blueprint for where your money is going. If you’ve yet to create a budget, do so, and look for areas where you might be able to make cuts that could go toward your new-home savings fund.

Alternatives to Conventional Mortgage Loans

While conventional mortgages are available from many different lenders, they’re not the only ones on the market — or necessarily the best for all borrowers. You may also qualify for different types of mortgage loans, such as:

•   FHA loans, which are designed specifically for first-time home buyers

•   VA loans, which are for service members, veterans, and qualifying surviving family members

•   U.S. Department of Agriculture loans, which help households under certain income thresholds purchase homes in eligible rural areas

Mortgage Tips

No matter which mortgage program you go with, the best tip is to shop around. Different lenders may be able to qualify you for different rates, and as we’ve seen above, interest can really add up. Even a fraction of a percentage difference could translate to thousands of dollars over a 30-year loan! Remember that if you can’t qualify for the lowest rate initially, you may find that you can do a mortgage refinance in the future.

The Takeaway

As we’ve seen, there’s no one simple answer to the question, “How much money do I need to make to take out a \$175,000 mortgage?” Rather, the mortgage qualification process is a more complex and holistic process that involves your debt level, income, credit history, and many other factors. However, with the many different programs available for first-time homebuyers, there’s a good chance you may be able to find a way to qualify.

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

How much mortgage can I afford with a \$175,000 income?

If you’re earning \$175,000 per year, that’s about \$14,500 per month. Your housing payment should be no more than 30% of your monthly gross income — which calculates to \$4,350 per month. With an income like this, you can probably afford a mortgage around \$550,000 depending on your other debts and how much you have available for a down payment.

How much is a \$175,000 mortgage per month?

Your exact mortgage payment will depend on many factors, including your interest rate. Borrow \$175,000 with a 7% interest rate and a 30-year term, and the monthly payment will be around \$1,164, excluding taxes and insurance.

Is \$2,000 a lot for a mortgage?

Whether \$2,000 per month is a lot to pay on a mortgage depends on how much you’re earning and how much of a squeeze you feel when you make that monthly payment. Most people would need to be earning about \$6,000 per month or \$72,000 per year — with little to no other debts — for a \$2,000 mortgage payment to feel comfortable.

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

*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.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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.

¹FHA loans are subject to unique terms and conditions established by FHA and SoFi. Ask your SoFi loan officer for details about eligibility, documentation, and other requirements. FHA loans require an Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium (UFMIP), which may be financed or paid at closing, in addition to monthly Mortgage Insurance Premiums (MIP). Maximum loan amounts vary by county. The minimum FHA mortgage down payment is 3.5% for those who qualify financially for a primary purchase. SoFi is not affiliated with any government agency.
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.

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Mortgage Commitment Letter: Overview, Types, and If You Need One

A mortgage commitment letter is a step beyond prequalification and preapproval and could give a homebuyer an edge in a competitive market. It lays out the loan details and indicates that a buyer has an agreement for a mortgage.

But who should obtain a mortgage commitment letter and when? Let’s take a look at those answers and more.

What Is a Mortgage Commitment Letter?

A mortgage commitment letter — conditional or final — is a step closer to finalizing a mortgage but short of “cleared to close.” The letter signals to the seller that the buyer and a chosen financial institution have forged an agreement.

Buyers may seek a conditional mortgage commitment letter when they’re house hunting, and a final commitment letter when they’re ready to make an offer on a specific home.

In both types of loan commitments, the lender outlines the terms of the mortgage.

Recommended: Buying in a Seller’s Market With a Low Down Payment

Types of Mortgage Loan Approvals

In the mortgage loan process, buyers will hear “approval” thrown around a lot. But not all approvals are built equally, and each type signifies a different part of the process.

Prequalification

Getting prequalified is often an early step for buyers in the home search. It’s quick, can be done online, and doesn’t require a hard credit inquiry.

To get prequalified, buyers provide financial details, including income, debt, and assets, but no documentation, so this step serves as an estimate of how much home they can afford.

Prequalification can help buyers create a realistic budget, but the amount, interest rate, and loan program might change as the lender gets more information.

Preapproval

Preapproval is slightly more complicated, requiring a hard credit inquiry and documentation from the buyer. Lenders may ask for the following:

•   Identification

•   Recent pay stubs

•   W-2 statements

•   Tax returns

•   Activity from checking, savings, and investment accounts

•   Residential history

Armed with this information, a lender will give buyers a specific amount they’ll likely qualify for.

Preapproval also shows sellers that a buyer is serious about a home, as it means a lender is willing to approve them for a mortgage.

Conditional vs Final Commitment

Prequalification and preapproval can be important steps during the home search. But especially in a seller’s market and in certain cities, the mortgage commitment letter can become an important tool.

While a mortgage loan commitment letter can show a seller that the buyer is serious, not all letters are the same.

A conditional mortgage approval letter, the most common type, means that the lender will approve buyers as long as they meet certain conditions.

Conditions could include:

•   No change to the buyer’s finances before the closing date

•   Proof of funds to cover the down payment and closing costs

•   Passing of a home inspection

•   An appraisal

•   Proof of homeowners insurance

•   No liens or other problems with the property title

A final commitment letter means the lender has unconditionally approved the buyer for a loan to purchase a home. However, this doesn’t mean the buyer is guaranteed a loan; it just means the lender is ready to approve the mortgage.

Having a mortgage commitment letter in hand is a good way to ensure that nothing will go wrong during underwriting.

Recommended: See Local Housing Market Trends by City

How to Know If You Need a Mortgage Commitment Letter

Buyers don’t need to provide a mortgage commitment letter to a seller. Still, that extra step beyond preapproval indicates how serious they are about a property.

Since it may require a little extra work, it shows sellers that a buyer is less likely to back out, especially due to financing issues.

A mortgage commitment letter could convince a seller to take a buyer more seriously in a seller’s market. And it could calm the nerves of buyers who face home-buying angst, including the challenge of covering a down payment and closing costs (even if they plan to roll closing costs into the loan).

How to Get a Mortgage Commitment Letter

Getting a mortgage commitment letter might sound like a hassle during an already stressful home-buying process, but doing so could save buyers time and provide a sense of relief as they creep closer to closing.

First off, buyers will need to be preapproved. If they have chosen a home, once under contract, their lender or underwriter will want more information, which may include:

•   A gift letter if another party is helping with the down payment

•   Employment verification

•   Explanation of any late payments

•   Proof of debts paid and settled

From there, it could be a back-and-forth between the lender and buyer, with the lender asking for clarification or additional documentation. Common issues that arise include:

•   Tax returns with errors or inconsistencies

•   Unexplained deposits into buyer bank accounts

•   Multiple late payments or collections on a credit report

•   Unclear pay stubs

At this point, the lender may grant a conditional commitment letter, with the caveat of additional information and an appraisal. If the buyer has an appraisal and meets lender expectations with documentation, they’re likely to get a final commitment.

Contents of a Commitment Letter

A commitment letter will vary from lender to lender but generally include the following details:

•   Loan amount

•   Loan number

•   What the loan is for

•   Type of loan

•   Lender information

•   Expiration date of the commitment letter

What happens after the commitment letter? The lender and underwriter will continue to iron out the mortgage details, aiming for cleared-to-close status before the closing date on the property.

The Takeaway

A mortgage commitment letter is like a short engagement before the wedding: It signals an agreement before the real deal. Buyers in an active seller’s market might find a mortgage commitment letter advantageous.

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

How long does it take to get a mortgage commitment letter?

It typically takes 20 to 45 days to get a mortgage commitment letter. The average closing process takes 50 days.

Yes.

How long is a mortgage commitment letter valid?

Timing can vary by lender, but the length of commitment is typically 30 days.

Photo credit: iStock/MartinPrescott

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

*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.

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.

SOHL-Q224-1917095-V1

What Hard Money Personal Loans Are & How They Work

You want to flip a house, but you don’t have enough money for a down payment — and your credit isn’t where it needs to be for a personal loan. Or, maybe you’re a small business owner who wants to own a piece of commercial real estate. People who are investing in real estate beyond their primary residence may consider a hard money loan as an option, especially if a traditional mortgage isn’t.

A hard money loan is a short-term loan commonly used by investors, such as house flippers or developers who renovate properties to sell. The loan typically uses the property as collateral. Hard money loans are usually funded by private lenders, individuals, or investor groups, rather than banks.

A hard money loan may make sense on paper, but because it typically has a shorter term than other types of loans and interest rates can be high, paying back the loan can be challenging. Defaulting on a hard money loan could mean losing the property.

What Is a Hard Money Personal Loan?

A hard money personal loan is a type of personal loan that uses collateral. While a mortgage is also a type of loan that uses property as collateral, a hard money loan is very different.

First of all, a hard money loan doesn’t come from a bank. It comes from a private lender, which may be a company or an individual. The loan will likely have higher interest rates and a shorter payback period than a traditional mortgage.

It can also be a much shorter process to be approved for a hard money loan. While a mortgage may take weeks for approval, it’s not atypical to have cash in hand within a few days of a hard money loan application.

A hard money loan also may be more lenient in terms of credit scores or assets than a traditional loan. This can be beneficial for people who are wanting to flip a house or buy an additional piece of property, who may not have enough assets on paper to be approved for a traditional mortgage, or who need a larger down payment than they have.

How Do Hard Money Personal Loans Work?

Hard money personal loans are often advertised to — and used as a tool for — house flippers, but other people may pursue a hard money personal loan as well.

Let’s say someone wants to buy a house to flip, or a piece of land to use as a rental property. They may still be building their credit, or they may not have enough money for a down payment. They may have been turned down for a mortgage, or they may not want to apply for a mortgage, knowing that it’s a time-intensive process and their finances might not be as strong on paper as they know the bank would like.

In this case, the person might turn to a hard money personal loan. Individuals, groups of investors, or private companies may specialize in offering hard money loans. Terms vary but are often less than one year, compared to 20 or more years for a mortgage. But the one constant: If you can’t pay back the loan, then you lose the collateral, which would be the property.

Other things to be aware of regarding a hard money personal loan: Interest rates may be high and the loan term is much shorter than a mortgage. This comes with a fair amount of risk.

Pros and Cons of Hard Money Personal Loans

As with any personal loan, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of the loan. It can also be a good idea to consider what-ifs, and how you might pay back the money if the original plan doesn’t work. Here, some pros and cons to think about before applying for a hard money personal loan.

Pros of a hard money personal loan

Cons of a hard money personal loan

Receive money fast Short loan payback period
Flexibility in terms of credit score and overall financial picture High interest rates
Can use hard money for whatever you need the money for Possibility of losing property if you cannot fulfill the terms of the loan

Personal Loans Versus Hard Money Loans

The primary difference between an unsecured personal loan and a hard money loan is that a hard money loan is secured. Both are personal loans, but using collateral for a personal loan means the loan is secured.

Collateral can be anything of value. But in the case of a hard money loan, it’s in the form of property. A personal loan typically does not require collateral. If you were unable to pay back a personal loan, the lender could not take away your house, for example. Both types of personal loans have specific terms and conditions, and both can provide cash relatively quickly. However, many personal loans are backed by a bank or other financial institution.

Hard money loans

Personal loans

Backed by a private individual or company Backed by a bank or other financial institution
Credit checks and financial picture play a limited role in approval Credit check plays a large role in approval
Provides cash Provides cash

Is a Hard Money Personal Loan Right For You?

Hard money personal loans may be an option for certain financial needs. But, as with any personal loan, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons, and consider what-ifs. Questions to ask may include:

•   What other avenues can I follow to raise the money I need?

•   What happens if I don’t pursue this loan?

•   If I do get this loan and plan to do a specific thing with it, what happens if that specific thing doesn’t happen the way I anticipated?

•   Can I afford this loan, including interest?

•   Could I afford this loan if my financial circumstances changed?

These questions can help you assess worst-case scenarios. You also may want to ask your potential lender any questions you have as well.

Recommended: Personal Loan Alternatives and Options

Hard Money Personal Loan Alternatives

There are potential alternatives to hard money personal loans. Some may require collateral, and others, like a personal loan, may not. Each comes with pros and cons. Your financial situation may also determine which loans you might be eligible for. If you’re building your credit, you may not have access to certain loans.

Credit Cards

If you’re purchasing land or property, you likely need cash. But for other purchases, using a credit card could be an option. If you don’t need a lump sum of money, using the line of credit that a credit card offers may work well for making periodic purchases.

However, credit cards may have high, variable interest rates. Plus, the more of your available credit you use, the higher your credit utilization ratio, which could impact your credit score.

Recommended: What Is A Personal Line of Credit & How Do You Get One?

Personal Loans

Can you buy land with a personal loan? You could. Generally, once you’re approved for a personal loan, you receive money in your account and can then use it for virtually any purpose. Some people use personal loans to pay for renovations or other home improvement projects.

But it could be challenging to get mortgage approval if you were planning on using a personal loan for a down payment, for example. A personal loan may affect mortgage eligibility.

Recommended: Do Personal Loans Affect Getting a Mortgage?

HELOC

A home equity line of credit (HELOC) is a type of revolving debt. For example, if you apply for a HELOC and are approved for \$10,000, you can draw up to \$10,000. Once that money is paid back, you can draw from it again for the set period of time defined in the terms of the loan.

A HELOC is a popular option for people who are doing home improvement projects. They may not need a lump sum of cash but may have ongoing expenses. Generally, interest rates on a HELOC are variable, not fixed.

Since a HELOC is a loan secured by the borrower’s home, there is a risk of losing the home if the loan is not repaid.

Recommended: How Do Home Equity Lines of Credit Work?

The Takeaway

For some people, hard money personal loans can allow them to realize their real estate goals. But hard money loans typically have high interest rates and short payback periods, which can make them risky. It can be a good idea to carefully weigh the pros and cons of a hard money loan.

A SoFi Personal Loan may be an alternative to consider. Since unsecured personal loans from SoFi do not require collateral, they could be a good option for those just entering the real estate market. SoFi offers competitive fixed rates and same-day funding. Checking your rate takes just a minute.

SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Personal Loan overall.

Photo credit: iStock/JLco – Julia Amaral

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.

Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

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.

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 .

SOPL-Q224-1909503-V1

How Much Does It Cost to Finish an Attic?

The longer you live in your house, the more obvious it may become that you could use more living space — perhaps for a guest bedroom, home office, or workout space. Your first thought might be to build an addition, but the sticker shock may cause you to shelve that idea and instead consider an attic conversion.

Fortunately, an attic conversion is an idea that may be more economical than a complete home addition. Read on for a full breakdown of the cost to finish an attic.

Should You Convert Your Attic Space?

There are many benefits of converting an attic into usable space, including:

•   The space already exists in your home, making this choice both cost- and time-effective.

•   You don’t need to pour a foundation, again making it a more viable and economical option.

•   Wiring is likely already in place and can be modified to suit your needs.

An attic conversion also allows you to use the entire envelope of your home, rather than wasting potential living space.

Before you fully commit to your attic remodel, though, it’s crucial to make sure your attic has the potential to become a usable living space (more on that below).

Tips on Converting an Attic

One of the first things you might do before converting your attic is to see if your roof is being supported by W-shaped trusses in your attic. If so, building an addition might be a better choice. If your attic contains A-shaped rafters, though, that’s a plus; if there’s enough open space beneath the rafters, then you can potentially convert your attic into usable space.

Other steps to take before an attic remodel include:

•   Check your local building codes to make sure your remodel will fit. The rules vary by area but a typical requirement is that the attic space must be at least 7.5 feet high and over 50% of the floor area. The thickness of the material will also factor into the final headroom and ceiling height. The quickest way to add significant costs to your attic remodel is to be forced to change course mid-project because of a code violation.

•   Determine how you’ll get into the space. Will you need to add a staircase or expand the current one? Stairs that go straight up will need more floor space than, say, spiral staircases. Or perhaps your only option is a pull-down access point; this will limit what furniture and materials you can fit into your attic conversion and how utilitarian the new living space might be.

•   Consider whether you’ll need to add windows. If you’re creating an additional bedroom, codes may require an egress window in case of fires. But even if they aren’t required, you might consider adding windows or punching skylights that open to brighten the space with natural light.

•   Decide how much flooring needs to be reinforced, along with any electrical or plumbing issues. If you ultimately decide that your attic has what’s needed for a successful conversion, it’s time to think both practically and creatively to shape what may well become the most interesting — and potentially challenging — room in your house.

•   Consider your priorities and budget. Once you get a sense of costs (listed below) and what’s most important to you, you’ll want to come up with a budget and a plan for how you’ll pay for the upgrade. If you don’t have enough cash to cover the project, you may want to explore financing. Funding options for finishing an attic include using a credit card (generally the most expensive route), getting a home improvement loan (a type of unsecured personal loan designed for small to mid-sized home renovations), or applying for a home equity loan or line of credit (which uses your home as collateral for the loan).

•   Consult with a professional unless you’re already an experienced builder. Ask friends, family members, and building associations for recommendations and referrals, then request quotes from at least three contractors to understand both possibilities and associated costs. When you contact contractors, ask them for credentials. Compare bids and, tempting as it may be, don’t automatically choose the lowest one. Make sure the contractor describes what will be provided as well as the estimated time frame.

Want to know how much value your attic conversion will bring to the table? Check out SoFi’s Home Project Value Estimator.

How Much Does It Cost to Finish an Attic per Square Foot?

On average, you can expect to pay between \$10,600 to \$50,000 — or \$50 and \$150 per square foot — to refinish your attic, according to Angie (formerly Angie’s List). A specialized or high-end attic conversion can cost as much as \$200 per square foot.

Overall, costs vary depending on the overall square footage and the materials you use.

How Much Does It Cost to Finish an Attic per Task?

If you hire individual contractors for each aspect of your attic remodel, then it’s easy to see what each portion of the remodel is costing you. However, if you hire a contractor to manage the entire project, you likely won’t receive the project broken down into great detail.

What follows is a breakdown of common costs involved in an attic renovation.

Cost of Walls and Ceilings

New walls and ceilings can effectively transform an unfinished attic into a space that’s both comfortable and livable. Although prices vary by where you live, attic drywall can cost an average of \$1,000 to \$2,600 to install, with ceilings costing anywhere from \$200 to \$12,000.

Other aspects to consider: Will you paint the walls and ceilings? Add wallpaper? Do you need trim and crown molding? All of these features will be additional costs and can quickly cause your project budget to skyrocket.

Cost of Flooring

Flooring is another important consideration, so first think about what’s located directly below the attic space. Do you need soundproofing? If a bedroom is located below the attic space, you’ll likely want some sound control. Insulation provides that to some degree, and carpeting adds even more dampening.

The cost of attic flooring will depend on the current state of the attic and what materials you choose. Replacing floor joists to beef up the strength will cost anywhere between \$1,000 and \$10,000, while installing subfloor will run between \$500 and \$800. Installing the flooring itself averages between \$1,531 and \$4,848, depending on material and square footage.

Recommended: Renovation vs. Remodel

Cost of Windows and Skylights

If there currently are no windows in your attic, you may want to add an egress window, which will run you between around \$800 and \$2,400, as a safety precaution. You also might want windows or skylights to brighten the space with natural light. Expect to pay an average of \$2,500 – \$5,500 to install an attic window, and \$1,000 to \$2,400 to add a skylight.

Recommended: How Much Does It Cost to Replace Windows?

Cost of Heating and Cooling

Your attic conversion might require additional heating and cooling. The price to install an attic fan is around \$400 to \$900, and a standard window AC costs about \$150 to \$800 per unit. A skillful contractor could also potentially tie in your current climate control system.

For heat, baseboard heaters run \$942 on average. If you need to add HVAC ductwork and vents to extend your home’s AC and central heating systems to the attic, you can, expect to pay anywhere from \$1,000 to \$5,000.

If your attic is difficult to access during the renovation period, contractors may tack on a surcharge. To get an idea of how much your attic renovation will cost, you may want to use an online home improvement cost calculator.

How Much Does It Cost to Finish an Attic Yourself?

It’s generally cheaper to go the DIY route than to hire a professional — though you will need some know-how. If you’re making minor improvements to your attic space (such as adding an attic fan and cleaning it up, you may be looking at an attic remodel cost as low as \$300. However, if you’re looking to make a total transformation, your costs for materials could run as high as \$50,000.

Though you’ll certainly save on labor costs, make sure to take into account the time involved if you decide to do it yourself as opposed to bringing in a professional.

How Much Does It Cost to Finish an Attic by Type?

How much it costs to finish an attic will also vary depending on the type of attic space you’re creating. Here’s a look at how much an attic remodel costs by attic type.

Cost of Finishing a Walk-Up Attic

The cost of finishing a walk-up attic generally ranges anywhere from \$8,100 and \$26,000. Large portions of the costs are typically adding a staircase and installing flooring.

Finishing an Attic as a Storage Space

If you’re finishing an attic to serve as a storage space, your costs are generally a little lower as there isn’t as much polishing involved. Generally, the attic remodel cost for a storage space runs from \$4,600 for a simpler setup to \$18,900 if the space is larger and you opt for more elaborate storage systems.

Cost to Finish an Attic With a Dormer

Installing a dormer — a window that juts out vertically on a sloped roof — can add in some ceiling height and natural sunlight into an attic. However, it will set you back. On average, the cost to add in a dormer along with finishing the attic can run between \$8,800 and \$32,400.

Cost to Finish an Attic Above a Garage

The cost to finish an attic above a garage can vary widely depending on what’s involved, such as the installation of heating, insulation, or ventilation. You can typically expect to pay anywhere from \$4,600 up to \$24,000.

Recommended: Garage Conversion Ideas Worth the Effort

What Factors Influence the Cost of Finishing an Attic?

As you may have guessed from the wide-ranging estimates above, the cost of finishing an attic can vary a lot depending on what’s involved and what materials you use. Here a look at some major factors that can affect how much it costs to finish an attic.

•   Square footage: How large your attic is will play a big role in the total costs involved in remodeling. The bigger an attic is, the more materials required and the more time it will take to finish it, which translates to additional labor costs.

•   Need for structural changes: You’ll also pay extra if your attic is an odd shape or difficult to access. These challenges could call for structural updates, such as the addition of height, the expansion of space, or the creation of a staircase.

•   Intended use: Your planned purpose for your attic will also influence cost. If you just want to add in some additional storage space, you’ll pay a lot less than if you plan to install a full suite complete with a bedroom, bathroom, and closet.

•   Extra features desired: Perhaps unsurprisingly, the more features you want in your newly remodeled attic, the more it will cost you. Big-ticket items include windows, electricity, plumbing, and heating and cooling.

Of course, another factor that influences your cost is whether you need to get financing for the project and, if so, what terms you’re able to secure.

The Takeaway

An attic conversion can be one way to create a unique room and add more usable space to your home. It also tends to be more economical than adding an addition to your house. There are a lot of technical aspects to consider, and before getting started, it’s best to check with your local building department so you know any building or permit requirements upfront. You can then come up with a project wishlist and start soliciting bids from at least three contractors.

At the same time, you’ll want to determine if you’ll pay cash or finance all or some of the project. One financing option you might consider for an attic renovation is an unsecured personal loan. Offered by banks, credit unions, and online lenders, rates are typically lower than credit cards. And unlike a home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC), you don’t need to use your home as collateral to qualify.

SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best 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.

Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

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.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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Preapproved vs Prequalified: What’s the Difference?

What does it mean to be prequalified or preapproved for a mortgage? One lets a future homebuyer dream, and the other takes that homebuyer one giant step closer to reality. Here’s a look at how these two steps vary, how each can play a part in a home-buying strategy, and how one in particular can increase the chances of having a purchase offer accepted.

What Does Prequalified Mean?

Getting prequalified is a way of finding out how much you might be able to borrow to purchase a home, using the most basic information about your finances. Getting prequalified by phone or online usually takes just minutes.

Here’s how it goes: You provide a few financial details to mortgage lenders. The lenders use this unverified information, usually along with a soft credit inquiry, which does not affect your credit scores, to let you know how much you may be able to borrow and at what interest rate.

Getting prequalified can give homebuyers a general idea of loan programs, the amount they may be eligible for, and what monthly payments might look like, the way a home affordability calculator provides an estimate based on a few factors.

You might want to get prequalified with several lenders to compare monthly payments and interest rates, which vary by mortgage term. But because the information provided has not been verified, there’s no guarantee that the mortgage or the amount will be approved.

What Does It Mean to Be Preapproved?

After you get prequalified, you can consider the options before you from a range of lenders. You’ll want to brush up on types of mortgage loans, and then zero in on the lender — and loan — you feel is the best fit. Then you’ll face the probe known as mortgage preapproval.

Preapproval for a mortgage loan requires a more thorough investigation of your income sources, debts, employment history, assets, and credit history. Verification of this information, along with a hard credit pull from all three credit bureaus (which may cause a small, temporary reduction in your credit scores) allows the lender to conditionally preapprove a mortgage before you shop for homes.

A preapproval letter from a lender stating that you qualify for a loan of a specific amount can be useful or essential in a competitive real estate market. When sellers are getting multiple offers, some will disregard a purchase offer if it isn’t accompanied by a preapproval letter.

When seeking preapproval, besides filling out an application, you will likely be asked to submit the following to a lender for verification:

•   Social Security number and card

•   Photo ID

•   Recent pay stubs

•   Tax returns, including W-2 statements, for the past two years

•   Two to three months’ worth of documentation for checking and savings accounts

•   Recent investment account statements

•   List of fixed debts

•   Residential addresses from the past two years

•   Down payment amount and a gift letter, if applicable

The lender may require backup documentation for certain types of income. Freelancers may be asked to provide 1099 forms, a profit and loss statement, a client list, or work contracts. Rental property owners may be asked to show lease agreements.

You should be ready to explain any negative information that might show up in a credit check. To avoid surprises, you might want to order free credit reports from www.annualcreditreport.com. A credit report shows all balances, payments, and derogatory information but does not give credit scores.

Knowing your scores is also helpful. There are a few ways to check your credit scores without paying.

Those who have filed for bankruptcy may have to show documentation that it has been discharged.

Use the following mortgage calculator to get an idea of what your monthly mortgage payment would look like.

Do Preapproval and Prequalification Affect Credit Scores?

Getting prequalified shouldn’t affect your credit scores. Only preapproval requires a hard credit inquiry, which can affect scores. But the good news for mortgage shoppers is that multiple hard pulls are typically counted as a single inquiry as long as they’re made within the same 14 to 45 days.

Newer versions of FICO® allow a 45-day window for rate shoppers to enjoy the single-inquiry advantage; older versions of FICO and VantageScore 3.0 narrow the time to 14 days.

You might want to ask each lender you apply with which credit scoring model they use.

Do I Have to Spend How Much I’m Preapproved for?

No! The preapproval amount is your maximum house-hunting budget. Staying well under that number can’t hurt and might free up money for, say, a college fund, retirement, or — groan — emergency home repairs.

Recommended: Guide to First-Time Home Buying

Are Prequalification and Preapproval the Same Thing?

By now you know that they are not one and the same. Here’s a visual on what’s needed for each:

Prequalification

Preapproval

Info about income Recent pay stubs
Basic bank account information Bank account numbers and/or recent bank statements
Down payment amount Down payment amount and desired mortgage amount
No tax information needed Tax returns and W-2s for past two years

Do I Need a Prequalification Letter to Buy a House?

No. Nor do you have to have a preapproval letter when making an offer on a house.

But getting prequalified can allow you to quickly get a ballpark figure on a mortgage amount and an interest rate you qualify for, and preapproval has at least three selling points:

1.    Preapproval lets you know the specific amount you are qualified to borrow from a particular lender.

2.    Going through preapproval before house hunting could take some stress out of the loan process by easing the mortgage underwriting step. Underwriting, the final say on mortgage approval or disapproval, comes after you’ve been preapproved, found a house you love and agreed on a price, and applied for the mortgage.

3.    Being preapproved for a loan helps to show sellers that you’re a vetted buyer.

The Takeaway

Prequalified vs. preapproved: If you’re serious about buying a house, it’s important to know the difference. Getting prequalified and then preapproved may increase the odds that your house hunt will lead to a set of jangling keys.

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 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

*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.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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.

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.

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