Tips for Buying in a Hot House Market

Unless you’ve slept through the last couple of years, you probably know that the housing market has heated up. Purchasing a home in a competitive real estate market can seem intimidating, but with patience and some smart strategies, you can succeed.

It can mean touring more homes than usual, putting in multiple offers, and making concessions that you might not undertake if the market were softer.

That doesn’t mean, however, that finding your dream home and getting a good deal can’t be done. Here’s how home shoppers can navigate a hot market and snag a great place to live.

What Exactly Is a Hot Market?

To put it in its simplest terms, a “hot market” is one when real estate inventory is low and demand is high, meaning many other buyers are looking to purchase a home as well.

It can often mean that homes enter the market and stay only briefly before selling at or above asking price. In general, if homes remain for sale for four to six months, it’s a balanced market of buyers and sellers.

However, if homes are selling faster than that, say in mere days or weeks, it’s typically considered a hot — or seller’s — market. If homes are sitting for longer than that, it’s regarded as a buyer’s market.

A hot market may sound tough to enter, but there are a few ways buyers can stand out from the pack and, with luck, win over a seller.

💡 Recommended: First Time Homebuyer Guide

Check out our local real estate market trends to
discover popular neighborhoods,
market demographics, and more.

Hot House Market Buying Tips

1. Hiring a Non-Tepid Agent

Hot market or not, a great agent can make all the difference in the homebuying process. An agent can help a buyer navigate choppy waters and will be the person buyers can turn to with questions about the market, the homes they are looking at, and much more.

A buyer’s agent is legally bound to help the buyer. A good agent will know what to look for in a home, may be able to recommend new neighborhoods buyers haven’t thought of, and can steer shoppers to good deals and away from bad ones.

2. Listing Musts and Wants

In a hot market, buyers may need to be more flexible about their ideal home and location. Before looking at homes, it might be wise to create a list of “must-haves” vs. “nice to have” items on your home-buying wish list.

If buyers know they can’t live without at least two bedrooms and two bathrooms, they should put that on their “must have” list. If they would like to have an in-home office but don’t need it, they can add that to the “nice to have” list.

It will probably help buyers to go through every item — garage, square footage, yard space, fireplace, schools — and draw their line in the sand. If a home doesn’t have everything on their “must” list, they can move on quickly. But if a property meets all the “musts,” perhaps it can have the “nice to have” items later via renovations.

3. Adding Sweeteners to an Offer

In a hot market, adding a few perks to a home offer can further tempt the seller because every little bit helps when there is the potential for multiple offers.

For example, sellers eager to move on could be enticed to go with buyers who can act quickly. To offer a quick close, buyers can ask their real estate agent to find out the standard closing time for the home and add to their offer that they are willing to close faster.

4. Offering All Cash

This most certainly isn’t an option for everyone, but if a buyer can offer all cash for a home, this may be the thing that tips the odds in their favor of winning a bid.

Sellers typically prefer all-cash offers because they present fewer hurdles than buyers who are going with a lender.

“Cash is king,” maybe you’ve heard. With a cash offer, there is no waiting for pre-approvals or approvals.

5. Waiving Contingencies

Looking to stand out further? Buyers could try waiving contingencies where they can.

There are lower risk contingencies people can waive, such as homeowner association contingencies, but there are also higher risk ones for buyers that could convince a seller to choose their offer.

For example, buyers can waive their right to an inspection. This means they will not require a professional inspector to check over the home for potential repairs. By waiving this contingency, though, buyers will be purchasing a home with many unknowns and taking on the full risk of a property that may need hidden and pricey home repairs.

Before waiving any contingency, it’s a good idea for buyers to have a long talk with their agent to ensure they are still protecting their rights and feel comfortable with any consequences.

Recommended: How to Rent in a Hot Housing Market

6. Giving It a ‘Best and Final’ Offer

In a hot market, odds are buyers won’t win any bids that are under asking price. If the house is right when it comes time for the best and final offer, buyers may want to consider trying to give it their all. That would mean coming in at asking price and often going over.

This is an important consideration when looking at homes in a hot market. Buyers may want to look at homes under their very top budget so they have room to negotiate up to, or over, asking.

Again, like contingencies, buyers should never go into a price range they are uncomfortable with or cannot afford in the long run. (Want to see how much a home could cost over the lifetime of a loan? Check out an online mortgage calculator to get an idea.)

7. Writing an Epic Letter

There is one more way to try to win a seller over (perhaps in a bidding war): by pulling on their heartstrings.

When putting in an offer, many real estate agents advise their clients to write a short letter to the seller on why they want to purchase the home.

Remember, selling a home can be emotional, and letting go of all the memories built in the space can be hard on the seller. But if they know that the next person to live in the home will love it as much as they do, they may be more willing to part with the property.

Buyers might want to express what they love about the home and how they plan to continue making happy memories there. As a bonus, buyers can try including a picture of their family with the letter so the seller thinks of them as people rather than just an offer.

8. Not Getting Discouraged

In a hot market, it’s important to stay patient. Going through the process could mean putting in multiple offers on multiple properties and losing out more than once.

Having Your Finances in Order

Before putting in an offer on a home in a hot market, it’s a good idea for buyers to have all their fiscal ducks in a row. That could mean shopping for the lender that’s right for them and/or getting a preapproval letter to show they are serious buyers.

Different lenders will likely offer different rates, terms, and perks, which buyers can weigh to decide which mortgage lender is right for them.

A SoFi Mortgage, with competitive rates, flexible terms, and low down payments, can be one smart option. Plus our online application process is quick and easy.

Shopping for your dream home? A SoFi Mortgage is a great place to start.

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

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 Equal Housing Lender.

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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Renovation vs. Remodel What’s the Difference_780x440: If you’re a homeowner considering a range of home improvements, you may not know if what you’re planning is a renovation or a remodel.

Renovation vs Remodel: What’s the Difference?

If you’re a homeowner considering a range of home improvements, you may not know if what you’re planning is a renovation or a remodel. Does it matter? Yes, because there are key differences.

A renovation is an update of an existing room or structure, while a remodel affects the design and purpose of an area. The more extensive work in a remodel will influence the cost and length of your project.

What Is a Renovation?

During a renovation, one or more rooms are updated and repaired. This might include new cabinets, flooring, and paint.

The bones of the room are typically left intact, though some structural issues may be fixed in a renovation, such as replacing rotting wood or swapping out window frames suffering from water damage.

A kitchen renovation might include replacing appliances, faucets, and knobs, while a bedroom reno might call for paint, new rugs, or new lighting.

Bathroom renovations often involve installing new tile, towel racks, and faucets.

Recommended: Home Improvement Cost Calculator

Advantages of a Renovation

Renovations are typically less costly than remodels, thanks to several factors.

You Can DIY

If you’re handy, you can slash some of the cost of hiring someone to undertake your renovation by doing some of the work yourself.

Because most renovations don’t require structural changes, you likely won’t be on the hook to hire licensed professionals to get it done. That means anything that you’re capable of — painting, wallpapering, floor sanding — you can do and pocket what it would have cost to hire help.

Just make sure you are skilled enough; hiring a professional to redo what you couldn’t complete may cost you money you didn’t plan on spending.

You May Get a Better Return on Investment

Since a renovation doesn’t call for major expenses like hiring licensed professionals or other construction-related outlays, in some cases the project offers more bang for the buck than a renovation does.

Renovation-related tweaks will still improve the look and feel of your home, and thus increase the value of your home, without the major expense a renovation entails.

You Can Expect Fewer Hidden Costs

When you’re renovating a room, your action plan is pretty cut and dry, and there aren’t likely to be surprises that require you to spend more than you planned.

Not so with a remodel, which, due to its scope, may result in additional costs to fix unforeseen problems such as hidden water damage, termites, or asbestos. These surprises can also lengthen the time of your project.

What Is a Remodel?

Remodels are typically more extensive than renovations. They include altering the function and sometimes the structure of an area of the house.

If your project calls for tearing down or adding walls, or changing the layout of a room, you’re planning a remodel.

Some examples of remodels: changing a powder room into a laundry room, knocking down a wall between a dining room and kitchen to create a great room, building an addition to your existing home, or expanding a closet into a dressing room.

Even if you’re not tearing down or adding walls, your project may be a remodel. This might include moving kitchen appliances around to improve room flow for a kitchen remodel, tearing out a tub and installing a walk-in shower in a bathroom, or turning a small guest bedroom into a home office.

Advantages of a Remodel

Many homeowners find there are pluses to a remodel as opposed to a renovation.

You Have the Opportunity to Customize Your Home

As homeowners grow with their home, they may find that their needs change.

Some may want an addition to accommodate an aging parent, while others may have expanded their families and need to convert a home office into a nursery or finish an attic and turn it into a bedroom. Empty-nesters may want to use one of their bedrooms as a study or gym.

A remodel affords them more options than a renovation does because they can make the necessary changes — however major — to achieve their needs.

You May Experience Hidden Benefits

Adding an island to a kitchen and removing a wall to create a larger space might mean more than increased room to prepare meals. You may find your family spends more time together in rooms that are spacious and inviting.

Similarly, retrofitting your heating and cooling system, adding under-floor heating, and replacing insulation might result in lower utility bills, freeing up money for hobbies or vacations.

Recommended: Guide to Buying, Selling, and Updating Your Home

Why a Remodel May Cost More Than a Renovation

All of that means remodels are costlier than renovations. Here’s why.

You May Need Permits

Thanks to the extensive nature of most remodels, many cities require homeowners to secure a permit before they begin work, especially if the project involves creating an addition to the home, or if new walls or new roofs are being installed. This is to ensure that building codes are followed.

If you need permits, you will want to factor the time it takes to secure them into your timeline. Once the permits are approved, the project may begin. And once it is completed, it will likely need to be approved by a local inspector.

You May Need Professional Help

If your remodel requires electrical, duct, or plumbing work, you will likely need to hire a licensed professional to complete it.

You may also need a general contractor to hire and oversee these workers and others for larger remodels like adding a guest suite to the home or converting an attic to a home office with an en-suite bathroom.

These vendors, while necessary, can be costly since you are paying for their time in addition to any materials.

You May Be Dealing With Construction

While it can be exciting to imagine what your home will look like after a remodel, getting there can be taxing. That’s because you may be living in a construction zone as the project is underway.

It can be difficult to have to eat multiple takeout meals because your kitchen is being worked on, or deal with dust from work being done in the next room over.

If their remodel is especially extensive, some homeowners find they need to rent a home nearby until the remodel has been completed.

Recommended: 15 Ways to Keep Inflation from Blowing Your Home Reno Budget

Paying for a Remodel or Renovation

Whether you’re undertaking a renovation or remodel, you’ll want to have a budget and a payment plan. Some renovations are small enough that homeowners can pay upfront.

Those tackling remodels and larger renovations might tap a home equity loan or home equity line of credit, when the home is used as collateral.

An unsecured, fixed-rate home improvement loan is another option.

A cash-out refinance also can free up part of the difference between the mortgage balance and the home’s value.

Recommended: Home Equity Loans vs Personal Loans for Home Improvement

The Takeaway

Undertaking home improvements can be exciting for homeowners. But before you embark on a project, know whether you’re looking at a renovation or a remodel, how much inconvenience you’re willing to put up with, and what you are willing to pay.

SoFi offers personal loans of up to $100,000. If a cash-out refinance makes more sense, SoFi offers that as well.

Or if you’re in the market for a home loan, SoFi has that covered, too, with competitive rates and flexible terms.

With SoFi, you can find the right loan option for your remodel or renovation needs.

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

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 Equal Housing Lender.

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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What Is a Good Mortgage Interest Rate Right Now?

Most people consider a “good” mortgage rate to be the lowest average current rate available. But here’s what they may not realize: Not everyone will qualify for the best rates out there.

So what is a good mortgage rate? It can be different for every borrower, depending on their financial situation and credit score.

Many factors go into determining the mortgage rate you can get. Once you understand what these variables are, the better equipped you’ll be to navigate the mortgage market and find the best loan for your situation.

This guide will get you on your way.

What Is a Mortgage Interest Rate?

If you’re a first-time home buyer, you may have a lot of questions about mortgage interest rates. The interest rate on a loan is the cost you pay to borrow money. You pay the interest each month as part of your regular payments for your loan.

There are different types of mortgage rates. With a fixed rate mortgage, your interest stays the same over the life of the loan. This means your monthly payment will always be the same.

An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) changes with the prime interest rate, which is influenced by the federal funds benchmark set by the Federal Reserve (the Fed). An ARM typically starts with a fixed rate for the first five to seven years, and then might fluctuate, based on the prime rate. This could potentially make your payments much higher, depending on the state of the economy.

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.

How Do Mortgage Interest Rates Work?

So what is a good mortgage interest rate? Interest rates are always changing. A variety of factors determine mortgage rate changes. Some you have control over, and others you don’t.

One of the critical factors that’s outside your control is what’s happening in the economy. Major economic events have a significant effect on interest rate fluctuations. For instance, if employment rates are high, the interest rate typically rises as well.

Inflation, which limits consumers’ purchasing power, also plays a role. Since 2022, inflation has been on the rise, and the Fed has raised interest rates numerous times to try to tame it.

Your personal financial situation also affects the interest rate you get, as outlined below.

How Lenders Determine Your Mortgage Rate

In addition to the economic factors and the influence of the Fed, your unique financial situation will help determine the mortgage rate you qualify for.

Here are a few key factors lenders typically consider when determining your rate.

Credit Score

Most lenders review your credit history to determine if you’re eligible for a mortgage.

With this in mind, you want to make sure you check your score regularly and that you’re doing everything you can to keep your score as high as possible, like paying your bills on time and keeping your credit balances low.

Credit report agencies will assign you a credit score by evaluating these factors. The most common model is the FICO® credit score, which ranges from 300 to 850.

Usually, if you have a credit score of 800 or higher, it’s considered exceptional, whereas a credit score between 740 and 799 is considered very good.

A credit score of 739 to 670 is good, and a score between 669 and 580 is fair. A score of 579 and lower is considered poor. A low credit score indicates that a borrower represents a higher risk. Borrowers with these credit scores may have trouble getting approved for a loan.

It’s important to note that specific credit score requirements may depend on the loan you apply for.

Income and Assets

Your income is another important factor lenders use to determine if you’re eligible for a mortgage. Lenders prefer borrowers with a steady income. To determine if you qualify, lenders evaluate your income and other assets, such as investments.

Also, your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) is essential information. Your DTI indicates what percentage of your monthly income is used for debt payments. This number gives lenders an idea of how well you’re doing financially.

If your DTI ratio is high, it may show that you’re not in a position to take on more debt. A lender might give you a higher interest rate or deny your mortgage application altogether.

Down Payment Amount

Sometimes your down payment amount can lower your interest rate or even determine what loans you’re eligible for. Lenders may see you as less of a risk if you put more money down.

A good standard tends to be a 20% down payment. A 20% down payment may help you get the most favorable interest rates.

However, if you’re applying for a government-backed loan, you may not need such a big down payment. For example, a Veterans Affairs mortgage requires no money down, and a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan only requires 3.5% down.

Also, some conventional home loans do not require 20% down.

Loan Term and Type

The loan term you select, such as 15 or 30 years, can also make a difference in the interest rate you receive. In general, a shorter-term loan will have a lower interest rate than a longer-term loan. However, your monthly payments will be higher with a shorter-term mortgage.

There are also several types of mortgage loan categories, including conventional, FHA, USDA, and VA loans. Each loan product may have very different rates.

Finally, as discussed, with a fixed-rate mortgage, your interest rate will remain the same for the life of the loan. But if you choose an adjustable-rate mortgage, your interest rate will vary after an initial fixed rate.

Before you take out any loan, it’s important to compare all of your options to make sure you find the best rate available.


Where your property is located can also play a role in the interest rate you receive. Some real estate markets are simply more costly than others. For instance the cost of living in California is higher than it is in some other locations.

You can check the cost of living by state to see how your state ranks.

Other Factors That Determine Your Mortgage Rate

In addition to your financial situation and location, and the type of loan you’re applying for, there are some other things that may influence the mortgage rate you get. They include:

The lender you choose

Different lenders offer different mortgage rates and terms. Shop around to find the best rate you can qualify for.

Housing market conditions

This factor is out of your control, but it’s good to understand how it works. If demand for houses is strong, mortgage rates tend to rise. And the opposite is true: When demand slows, rates tend to decrease. Knowing what the housing market is doing when you’re shopping for a home loan can help prepare you for what to expect.

What Is Considered a Good Mortgage Rate

Currently, in mid-June 2023, the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is 6.67%, according to Freddie Mac. Anything below or close to that number might be considered good.

But again, what’s a good mortgage rate for you depends on your financial situation and many other factors. A good rate is what you can qualify for. Be sure to compare rates from different lenders to get the best deal and the lowest rate you can.

As you’re comparing your options, be sure to look at the loan’s APR (annual percentage rate). An APR gives borrowers a more comprehensive measure of the cost to borrow money than the interest rate alone does.

The APR includes the interest rate, any points, mortgage broker fees, and other charges you pay to borrow money. So when you’re comparing options, you’ll want to review each lender’s APR to indicate the true cost of borrowing.

To get an idea of what your mortgage payments might be, you can use a mortgage calculator.

How to Get a Good Mortgage Rate

Now that you know the answer to the question, what is a good interest rate for a mortgage?, you’ll want to make sure you get the best rate for you. Making sure your finances are in order before you apply for a mortgage will likely help you obtain a better interest rate and loan terms. Here are some ways to do that.

•   Pay off higher-interest debt. If you have debt like credit card debt, you’re likely paying a lot of money in interest. That money could be going toward other things like a mortgage payment. Second, carrying a large amount of debt means you lower your chances of approval for a home loan. Pay off as much of your debt as you reasonably can.

•   Save more for a large down payment. Buyers who put down less than 20% may end up paying for private mortgage insurance (PMI), which typically costs between 0.5% and 1.5% of the loan amount annually.

•   Review your credit history and check for errors. You can get a free copy of your credit report from the three major credit bureaus or from If you spot any errors, be sure to alert the credit bureaus right away. Correcting any mistakes may help improve your ability to get a home loan.

The Takeaway

What is a good interest rate on a mortgage? Your financial health, the health of the economy, the loan type and term, and other factors help determine the actual rates you’re offered. What you can do is work to strengthen your credit and financial situation and pay down debt you have, such as credit card debt.

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.


What is the 30 year mortgage rate right now?

Right now, as of mid-June 2023, the average rate for a 30-year mortgage is 6.67%, according to Freddie Mac.

What is a good interest rate for a mortgage now?

A good rate for a mortgage now is anything below the average rate for a 30-year mortgage, which is 6.67% in mid-June 2023. But a good mortgage rate can be different for every borrower, depending on their financial situation and credit score, as well as the type of home loan they’re applying for, among other factors.

Is 4% a good rate for a mortgage?

Currently, in 2023, 4% is considered a good rate for a mortgage, compared to the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, which is 6.67%.

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.

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.

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

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 Equal Housing Lender.


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7 Ways to Build Equity in Your Home

Homeownership comes with plenty of perks, But one important financial benefit is the opportunity to build home equity, which is considered a common way to generate wealth over time.

Read on to learn how homeowners can help build equity and increase the value of their home.

What Is Home Equity?

In order to understand how building home equity works, it’s important to understand exactly what it is.

Equity is the amount of your home you actually own. More specifically, it’s the difference between how much you owe your lender and how much your home is worth.

To calculate home equity, simply subtract the amount of the outstanding mortgage loan from the price paid for the home. So if a home is worth $350,000, and the homeowner owes $250,000 on their mortgage, they have $100,000 of equity built up in their house. Their mortgage lender still has an interest in the home to the tune of $250,000 and will continue to have an interest in the home until the mortgage is paid off.

7 Smart Ways to Build Your Home Equity

1. Making a Big Down Payment

Homeowners can get a jump on building home equity when they’re buying a home by making a large down payment.

Typically, homebuyers using a conventional loan will put down at least 20% as a down payment to avoid having to pay mortgage insurance. That means that right off the bat, the homeowner has a 20% interest in their home. They can increase this amount by putting even more down. A down payment of 30%, for instance, will increase equity and potentially give the homebuyer more favorable mortgage payments and terms.

If making a large down payment means having less in emergency savings, however, the home buyer may want to use other methods to build equity.

2. Prioritizing Mortgage Payments

Each mortgage payment a homeowner makes increases the amount of equity they have in their home. Making mortgage payments on time will avoid potential late fees.

Keep in mind that a portion of each mortgage payment goes toward interest and sometimes escrow. You’ll want to take these amounts into account when calculating how much equity is accruing.

3. Making Extra Payments

Extra payments chip away at a loan’s principal, help build equity faster, and potentially save thousands of dollars in interest payments. Even if it’s only a little bit each month, paying more than your regular mortgage payment amount can help you increase how much home equity you build.

If adding some extra cash each month isn’t feasible, perhaps making one-time payments whenever possible — when you get a bonus at work, for instance — would be an option.

To ensure those payments are applied correctly, be sure to notify the lender that any extra or lump-sum payments should be put toward the loan’s principal.

Beware that some lenders may charge a prepayment penalty to borrowers who make significantly large payments or completely pay off their mortgage before the end of the term. Before making extra payments, consider asking the lender about a prepayment clause.

4. Refinancing to a Shorter Term

You may also consider refinancing with a loan that offers a shorter term. For example, a homeowner could refinance their 30-year mortgage to a 20-year mortgage, shaving off up to a decade of mortgage payments. However, doing so means they will also be increasing the amount they pay each month.

Still, shorter-terms loans may have the added benefit of lower interest rates, which could soften the blow of higher monthly payments.

Mortgage refinancing is not necessarily a simple process, nor is it guaranteed that a lender will offer a new loan. Homeowners can increase their chances of securing a refinanced mortgage by maintaining healthy credit and a low debt-to-income ratio. It may also help to have equity built up in the home already.

5. Renovating Your Home

Making home improvements typically increases the value of a home, which will likely increase equity. Renovating a home’s interior can be a good place to start.

Minor renovations like updating light fixtures and repainting can add some value to a home. Larger projects such as updating the kitchen, adding bathrooms or finishing the basement may yield good returns on the investment.

Weighing present cost against potential future gain may be a good thing to do before tackling a big project. The idea is that making these improvements now, and then being able to sell at a premium will mean recouping your expenses and then some. An online home improvement project calculator can help you estimate the cost of projects and how much value they could potentially add.

6. Sprucing Up the Outside

Similarly, adding to a home’s curb appeal may also increase its value. A fresh coat of paint, a well-maintained lawn, and tasteful landscaping could help increase a home’s desirability and the amount that buyers are willing to pay.

Mature trees, for example, can potentially add thousands of dollars to a home’s resale value. If you’re thinking of selling in a decade or more, planting a tree now could have a big effect on sale price later.

Increasing usable outdoor space by adding a deck or patio and installing good outdoor lighting may increase the value of your home.

7. Waiting for Home Values to Rise

The real estate market is always evolving, and sometimes, playing the waiting game could help you build equity. For instance, if your neighborhood becomes more popular, home prices could start to rise. If that happens, it may be worth keeping a home there longer to take advantage of the trend. Of course, the flip side is that housing prices may drop over time, which could mean a loss in equity.

Why Build Home Equity?

Building home equity is important because it gives the homeowner the opportunity to convert that equity into cash when the need arises. This is commonly done when a home is sold. But the equity in a home can also be important when taking out a home equity loan, which could allow the homeowner to use the value of their home while still living there.

For a home equity loan, a lender provides a lump-sum payment to the borrower. The amount must be repaid over a fixed time period with a set interest rate. As with a personal loan, home equity loans can be used for a variety of purposes. The loan is backed by the value of the home and typically must be repaid in full if the home is sold.

A home equity line of credit, or HELOC, is a revolving line of credit that uses the value of the home as collateral. Unlike lump-sum loans, a HELOC allows the homeowner to borrow money as needed up to an approved credit limit. That amount is paid back and can be drawn on again throughout the course of the loan’s draw period. While a person’s home is likely to be their most valuable asset, it’s also valuable purely because of its provision of shelter.

Researching and understanding all of the risks involved with loans that use a home as collateral, including that it could be lost if the loan is not paid back, is important before considering this option.

The Takeaway

There are many ways to build equity in a home. Different strategies include making a large down payment or extra monthly mortgage payments, refinancing to a shorter term, renovating your home, or waiting for home values in your area to rise. Whatever your strategy, home equity can provide you with a valuable resource that can be used when a financial need arises. Often this resource is tapped into by means of a loan that is secured by the home. However, this means if the loan is not repaid, a homeowner could lose their home.

If you want to avoid using a home as collateral for a loan, consider a SoFi personal loan instead. SoFi offers competitive fixed rates and same-day funding. And 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 Equal Housing Lender.

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If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.

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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What Is Joint Tenancy?

If you’re planning on buying a house with your partner, you need to learn at least the basics of joint tenancy. What is joint tenancy? It’s a common way that couples take title to a property.

The basic definition of joint tenancy is simple: It’s when two or more people buy a property together, and each individual has an undivided interest in the property.

What makes joint tenancy unique in that each owner owns the entirety of the property. This means that if you and a spouse have a joint tenancy in a property you purchased, you both own the whole house versus each owning half.

Joint tenancy also includes what is called a “right of survivorship.” This means that if one of you dies, your co-owner will own the entire home on their own, regardless of whether you had any agreement to leave them the property (other than the recorded title itself).

Learn more about joint tenancy here.

How Does Joint Tenancy Work?

Joint tenancy is controlled by the state where you live, so you’ll need to look to state law to see exactly how to enter into a joint tenancy. The laws about joint tenancy also vary depending on whether you’re talking about real or personal property.

Real property is land and buildings attached to the land, and personal property is everything else, like your car, blender, or bank account.

Joint tenancy can technically be created in any property, so you could theoretically bequeath your blender to your sister and brother-in-law as joint tenants if you really wanted. However, joint tenancy is most often associated with things like real property and however many bank accounts you have.

Worth noting: Another option when buying a house with a partner is to purchase it as a tenancy in common (TIC). The main difference between joint tenancy and TIC is that tenancy in common doesn’t include the right of survivorship.

This means that property won’t automatically be inherited by the co-owner(s) or other tenants in common if the other owner dies — that tenant’s ownership portion goes to the party selected in the deceased owner’s will.

Joint Tenancy in Real Property

Joint tenancy might come up when you’re considering buying a home with another person, like your spouse or partner. When you take ownership of your house, you will normally take title of the home. The deed typically specifies whether you and your co-owner own the home as joint tenants or as tenants in common.

The escrow officer will often supply the buyer with a list of ways the owner(s) can take title to the property and help explain each choice available before the purchaser makes a decision.

There can be different options for right of survivorship depending upon the state the property is located and who is taking the property title. For instance, in the state of California spouses can take title as Community Property with the Right of Survivorship, this allows for tax benefits such as capital gains.

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Deciding which type of tenancy you’d like the deed to specify is an important choice because there are different rights and responsibilities involved, as well as possible tax implications.

For example, tenants in common only own a designated share of the co-owned property, even if they have the right to occupy the whole house. Also, if one co-owner in a TIC agreement dies, that person’s designated heirs may be the one to inherit their portion of the property instead of the other co-owner (unless that co-owner is the heir).

Tenants in common might also agree to share financial responsibility or costs proportional to the percentage of the property they actually own. Say that you buy a beach house with your friend as tenants in common. You paid for 40% of the house and your friend paid 60%.

Your TIC agreement might specify that your friend owns a three-fifths share in the property and you own a two-fifths share, even though you both will be occupying the whole house.

Because of the different levels of ownership, you may also decide that your friend will pay for three-fifths of the cost of upkeep and home repairs while you only pay for two-fifths. And if your friend passes away, her kids or other heirs might inherit that three-fifths interest in your beach house.

With joint tenancy, you may avoid some of the more complicated ownership questions that can arise with TIC. For example, if you buy a mountaintop vacation cabin with your wife as joint tenants, both of you would have equal ownership of 100% of the cabin.

If one of you were to pass away, the other spouse would simply continue to own 100% of the cabin and the deceased spouse’s co-ownership of the cabin would not pass on to anyone else.

Recommended: How to Buy a Starter Home

Joint Tenancy in a Bank Account

Another situation where joint tenancy might come up is with bank accounts. Although you might not consider yourself a “tenant” of your bank account, a bank account is considered personal property, which means you can own it as a joint tenant with someone else. It is not quite as complicated as it might sound.

Like joint tenancy on a house, a joint bank account allows for both owners to have total ownership of the account and to have a right of survivorship in the account.

This means that either co-owner may be able to withdraw all of the money in the account without the permission or knowledge of the other co-owner.

It also means that if one co-owner of the joint account dies, the other co-owner automatically gets ownership of the account and everything in it. You could also have a tenancy in common agreement for a bank account.

Recommended: Buying a House When Unmarried

Pros and Cons of Joint Tenancy

Many people, particularly married couples and family members choose to own property as joint tenants because it is convenient and can help to ensure that if one co-owner dies, the other co-owner automatically gets full possession of the property.

Of course, because of the right of survivorship inherent in joint tenancies, you are more limited when it comes to making decisions about who to leave your property to in a will as part of your estate planning. If you own your home in joint tenancy with your wife, but you leave the house to your kids in your will, your wife would maintain ownership of the house despite the will.

This could make figuring out the ownership of a property after losing a family member more complicated depending upon whether the state is a community property state or not.

Joint Tenancy and Mortgages

If you’re considering buying a property, it is also important to find the right mortgage loan. This path helps get you and your partner into your dream home without having to save up enough cash to buy a home outright.

For most couples, buying a new home involves saving up for a down payment and then taking out a mortgage to cover the remaining cost. You can take out a joint mortgage as co-borrowers, so both borrowers are equally responsible for the payment.

If you’re shopping for a home mortgage, see what SoFi offers. A SoFi Mortgage can be a great option with competitive rates, flexible terms, and down payments as low as 3% to 5%. Plus, our application process is streamlined and simple.

SoFi: The smart way for you and your partner to buy your new home.

SoFi Mortgages
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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 Equal Housing Lender.

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.

This article is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult an attorney for advice.


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