10 Step Guide to Building Your Own Home

10-Step Guide to Building Your Own Home

Most people in the market for a new dwelling will buy an existing home that more or less fits their needs. But new homes don’t come with the problems that old homes might, from lead paint to a kitchen crying out for remodeling. And building a house may seem attractive because you can construct it to fit your specifications, from the number of bathrooms to building an outdoor kitchen.

If you’re ready to build your own house, here are the steps to take.

10 Steps to Building Your Own Home

Condo. Townhouse. Single-family home. Modular or manufactured home. Cabin or even houseboat. A house hunter has all of those types of homes to choose from. If you’re building a home, you’ll have a lot of choices to make as well, starting with where your home will be located. Here are the steps to building your own home:

1. Find a Location

The first thing you’ll need to do is find a site that’s zoned for a residential property. Look into local building regulations to see how much of the site you are allowed to build on and how far from property lines the building must be set back. Check ordinances that might limit size or height. Is there a homeowners association (HOA)? Scour the rules.

It’s generally suggested that you not spend more than 20% of your total budget on the building site. When you purchase the land, you will acquire a property deed, which will also act as the house deed.

2. Obtain Permits

Before a shovelful of earth is turned, the local building department must OK the plans and provide permits for the whole shebang: grading, zoning, construction, electrical work, plumbing, and more. When the permits are in hand, construction can start.

On a related note, at various points during construction, the home will need to be inspected for code compliance. If you are using a loan for new construction, your lender may also send an inspector to keep track of construction status before releasing payments from a construction loan.

3. Prep the Site and Your Finances

Site Prep

Before you start building, you’ll need to prepare the building site. You’ll want to be sure that soil conditions are stable. You may want to engage a civil engineer to give the site a look. A site surveyor can stake the property boundaries. Then you’ll need to clear brush and debris at least to 25 feet around the planned perimeter of the house.

Size and Cost

The cost of building a house averaged $313,884 in 2022, according to HomeAdvisor, the directory of service pros, but a typical range is from around $137,000 to $582,000. Obviously location, materials, and level of detail affect the bottom line.

But size is the biggie. The larger the build, the more labor and material costs you should expect. The average new home in the country has about 2,200 square feet at $150 per square foot, HomeAdvisor notes.

After the peak of the pandemic, there were months-long delays to receive materials, from appliances to garage doors, and construction costs increased. Oil prices significantly increased transportation expenses. Rising inflation left its mark, but prices leveled off in 2023. All of which is to say, cost numbers are a moving target.

Finance Options

When you build a home, you may need a loan that covers the purchase of land, buying materials, and hiring labor. In this case, you may want to look into a construction loan. Unlike mortgage loans, construction loans are not secured by an existing home, so approval might be tricky and take a bit longer.

The money is paid to your builder in installments. You’ll often only pay interest on the portion of the loan that has been withdrawn. After the typical 12 to 18 months of a construction-only loan, the usual route is to take out a mortgage and pay off the construction loan.

Other financing options are a home equity loan, if you already own a home.

A personal loan of up to $100,000 can pay for part of the construction (or maybe all, for a modest build).

If you’re buying the land, Federal Housing Administration (FHA) one-time close loans cover the lot purchase, construction, and permanent mortgage. But the loans can be hard to find and are tougher to qualify for than traditional FHA loans.

Check out these additional resources for homeowners.

Choosing Materials

Only an experienced and highly organized person may want to act as their own general contractor for a new house build. Most people will put the job in a contractor’s hands, and add 20% to 30% for the cost of materials and labor.

General contractors already have priced and sourced many of the materials when making a bid. They usually have relationships with wholesale distributors, lumberyards, and retailers.

That said, you may have some skills that you could apply to cut costs. For example, you could look into how much it costs to paint a house and determine if painting the home’s interior could help you save.

Building a Work Team

If you choose to fly solo, you’ll be on the hook for finding subcontractors yourself.

A general contractor will hire all of the team members needed to complete the project and charge 20% to 30% of the overall cost of the home. However, they also typically have regular relationships with subcontractors, who may charge them less than they would a person who hires them on a one-off basis.

As a result, you may not end up saving much or any money by finding subcontractors yourself.

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


4. Pour the Foundation

Once the building site is cleared, construction can begin, starting with the foundation. Some houses are built on level slabs of concrete that are poured on the ground, leaving space in which to run utilities, like plumbing and electrical.

A home with a full basement requires that a hole is dug and that footings and foundation walls are formed and poured. The concrete will need time to cure, and no construction will take place until it has set properly.

5. Set Up Plumbing

Once the concrete has set, crews install drains, water taps, the sewer system, and any plumbing going into the first-floor slab or basement floor, and then backfill dirt into the gap around the foundation wall.

6. Assemble the Frame, Walls, and Roof

With the foundation complete, framing carpenters will build out the shell of the house, including floors, walls, and the roof. Windows and exterior doors are installed, and the house is wrapped in a plastic sheathing that protects the interior from outside moisture while allowing water vapor from inside the home to escape.

7. Install Insulation, Complete Electric and Plumbing Installs

Now plumbers can install water supply lines and pipes to carry water through the floors and walls. Bathtubs and showers may be added at this time.

Electricians will wire the house for outlets, light fixtures, and major appliances. Ductwork and HVAC systems can be installed.

8. Hang Drywall and Install Interior Fixtures and Trim

With plumbing and electrical complete, the house can be insulated and drywall can be hung. A primary coat of paint goes on, and the house will start to look relatively finished.

Light fixtures and outlets can be installed, as can bathroom and kitchen fixtures, like sinks and toilets. Interior doors, baseboards, door casings, windowsills, cabinets, built-ins, and decorative trim go in. The final coat of paint is applied.

9. Install Exterior Fixtures

Crews begin exterior finishes like brick, stone, stucco or siding. Some builders pour the driveway when the foundation is completed, but many opt to do so toward home completion, along with walkways and patios.

10. Install the Flooring

Wood, ceramic tile, or vinyl floors and/or carpet can be installed at this point.

Recommended: First-Time Homebuyer Guide

Is It Cheaper to Buy or Build a New House?

There are so many variables that it’s hard to say.

The median sales price for new construction in April 2024 was $433,500, according to FRED, or Federal Reserve Economic Data. Can you beat that price with a DIY build? Maybe, if you act as the general contractor and choose cheaper materials.

Keep in mind that HomeAdvisor’s average of $313,884 to build a house does not include the land.

Ultimately, the price of your dream home hinges on location, the cost of labor and materials, and your taste.

3 Home Loan Tips

1.   Since lenders will do what’s called a hard pull on an applicant’s credit, and too many hard pulls in a short period can affect your application, it’s a good idea to know what interest rate a lender will offer you before applying for a personal loan. Viewing your rate with SoFi involves only a soft pull on your credit — and takes one minute.

2.   Before agreeing to take out a personal loan from a lender, you should know if there are origination, prepayment, or other kinds of fees.

3.   Traditionally, mortgage lenders like to see a 20% down payment. But some lenders allow home mortgage loans with as little as 3% down for qualifying first-time homebuyers.

The Takeaway

Building your own home will allow you maximum flexibility in terms of your choices of everything from floorplan to finishes. But it is a complex process and you’ll want to take it step by step, with careful consideration of your budget and how you plan to finance what you build.

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

SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.

https://www.sofi.com/home-loans/mortgage/“>

FAQ

How long can you expect to live in a self-built home?

If a home is well built and maintained properly, you can expect it to last a lifetime.

How long will it take to build a home?

The average time it takes to build a home from start to finish is 9.4 months for a contractor build and 12 for an owner build, according to data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Is it dangerous to build a home yourself?

If the question means completely DIY — clearing a lot, pouring a foundation, framing, installing electrical, and so on — the answer is “it sure could be.”

Are there safe financing options for self-build projects?

DIY builders and remodelers may use a construction loan, personal loan, home equity loan, or FHA one-time close loan. If you do use a construction-only loan, shop for a mortgage that makes sense once you stand there admiring the finished product.


Photo credit: iStock/Giselleflissak

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


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


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

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

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.

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.

²To obtain a home equity loan, SoFi Bank (NMLS #696891) may assist you obtaining a loan from Spring EQ (NMLS #1464945).

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

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

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

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

SOHL-Q224-1903446-V1

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What Multi-Family Homes Are and Their Pros & Cons

Multifamily Home Need-to-Knows

Whether shopping for a home or an investment property, buyers may come across multifamily homes.The first need-to-know, especially for financing’s sake, is that multifamily properties with two to four units are generally considered residential buildings, and those with five or more units, commercial.

Let’s look at whether multifamily homes are a good idea for homebuyers or investors.

What Is a Multifamily Home?

Put simply, a multifamily home is in a building that can accommodate more than one family in separate living spaces. Each unit usually has its own bathroom, kitchen, utility meter, entrance, and legal address.

Of the more than 100 million Americans who rent, around two-thirds live in multifamily homes.

Among the different house types are duplexes, which contain two dwelling units, while a triplex and quadruplex consist of three and four units, respectively. A high-rise apartment building is considered a multifamily property.

What about ADUs? A home with an accessory dwelling unit — a private living space within the home or on the same property — might be classified as a one-unit property with an accessory unit, not a two-family property, if the ADU does not have its own utilities and provides living space to a family member.

Multifamily Homes vs Single-Family Homes

On the surface, the differences in property types may seem as straightforward as the number of residential units. But there are other considerations to factor in when comparing single-family vs. multifamily homes as a homebuyer or investor.

Unless you plan to hire a manager, owning a property requires considerable time and work. With either type of property, it’s important to think about how much time you’re able to commit to handling repairs and dealing with tenants.

If you’re weighing your options, here’s what you need to know about single-family and multifamily homes.

Multifamily Homes Single-Family Homes
Comprise about 27% of U.S. housing stock. Represent around 67% of U.S. housing stock.
Can be more difficult to sell due to higher average cost and smaller market share. Bigger pool of potential buyers when you’re ready to sell.
Higher tenant turnover and vacancy can increase costs. Often cheaper to purchase, but higher cost per unit than multifamily.
More potential for cash flow and rental income with multiple units. Less cash flow if renting out, generally speaking.
Usually more expensive to buy, but lower purchase cost per unit. More space and privacy.
Small multifamily homes (2-4 units) may be eligible for traditional financing; 5+ units generally require a commercial real estate loan. Greater range of financing options, including government and conventional loans.

Pros and Cons of Multifamily Homes

There are a number of reasons to buy a multifamily home: Rental income and portfolio expansion are two.

Buying real estate is one ticket to building generational wealth. But there are also downsides to be aware of, especially if you plan to purchase a multifamily home as your own residence.

So what are multifamily homes’ pros and cons? The benefits and drawbacks can depend on whether it’s an investment property or a personal residence.

As Investment

Investing in multifamily homes can come with challenges. Take financing.

A mortgage loan for an investment property tends to have a slightly higher interest rate, the qualification hurdles are higher, and a down payment of 20% or more is usually required, though there are ways to buy a multifamily property with no money down.

Government-backed residential loans don’t apply to non-owner-occupied property, but there is a commercial FHA (Federal Housing Administration) loan for the purchase or refinancing of apartment buildings with at least five units that do not need substantial rehabilitation. Another FHA loan program is for new construction or substantial rehabilitation of rental or cooperative housing of at least five units for moderate-income families, elderly people, and people with disabilities. Yet another FHA loan pertains to residential care facilities. Upfront and annual mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) apply.

Before adding a multifamily home to your real estate portfolio, take note of the pros and cons of this investment strategy.

Pros of Investing in Multifamily Homes Cons of Investing in Multifamily Homes
Reliable cash flow from multiple rental units. Upfront expenses can be cost prohibitive for new investors.
Helpful for scaling a real estate portfolio more quickly. Managing multiple units can be burdensome and may require hiring a property manager.
Opportunity for tax benefits, such as deductions for repairs and depreciation. Property taxes and insurance rates can be high.
Often appreciates over time.

As Residence

Buyers can choose to purchase a multifamily home as their own residence. They will live in one of the units in an owner-occupied multifamily home, while renting out the others.

Owners can use rental income to offset the cost of the mortgage, property taxes, and homeowners insurance while building wealth.

Another advantage is financing. With a multifamily home of two to four units, an owner-occupant may qualify for an FHA, VA (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs), or conventional loan and put nothing down for a VA loan or little down for a conventional or FHA loan. (It isn’t all hearts and flowers, though. Most VA loans require a one-time funding fee. FHA loans always come with MIP. And putting less than 20% down on a conventional loan for an owner-occupied property, short of a piggyback loan or lender-paid mortgage insurance, means paying private mortgage insurance).

What are multifamily homes’ pros and cons as residences?

Pros of Multifamily Homes as a Residence Cons of Multifamily Homes as a Residence
Reduced cost of living frees up cash for other expenses, investments, or savings. Vacancies can disrupt cash flow and require the owner to cover gaps in rent.
Self-managing the property lowers costs and can be more convenient when living onsite. Being a landlord can be time-consuming and complicate relationships with tenant neighbors.
Potential for federal and state tax deductions. Less privacy when sharing a backyard, driveway, or foyer with tenants.
Owner-occupied properties qualify for more attractive financing terms than investment properties.

It’s worth noting that an owner-occupant can move to a new residence later on and keep the multifamily home as an investment property. This strategy can help lower the barrier to entry for real estate investing, but keep in mind that loan terms may require at least one year of continued occupancy.

Recommended: Tips to Qualify for a Mortgage

Who Are Multifamily Homes Right For?

There are a variety of reasons homebuyers and investors might want a multifamily home.

Multifamily homes can be helpful for entering the real estate investment business or diversifying a larger portfolio. It’s important to either have the time commitment to be a landlord or to pay for a property manager.

For homebuyers in high-priced urban locations, multifamily homes may be more affordable than single-family homes, given the potential for rental income. It might be helpful to crunch some numbers with a mortgage payment calculator.

Multigenerational families who want to live together but maintain some privacy may favor buying a duplex or other type of multifamily home.

What to Look for When Buying a Multifamily Home

There are certain characteristics to factor in when shopping for a multifamily home.

First off, assess what you can realistically earn in rental income from each unit in comparison to your estimated mortgage payment, taxes, and maintenance costs. Besides what the current owner reports in rent, you can look at comparable rental listings in the neighborhood.

When looking at properties, location matters. Proximity to amenities, school rankings, and transportation access can affect a multifamily home’s rental value.

The rental market saturation is another important consideration. Buying a multifamily home in a fast-growing rental market means there are plenty of renters to keep prices up and units filled.

The vacancy rate — the percentage of time units are unoccupied during a given year — at a property or neighborhood is an effective way to estimate rental housing demand.

Depending on your financing, the condition of a multifamily home may be critical. With a VA or FHA loan, for instance, chipped paint or a faulty roof could be a dealbreaker.

Read up on mortgage basics to learn about what home loans you might use for a multifamily home and their terms.

Finding Multifamily Homes

Like single-family homes, multifamily homes are featured on multiple listing services and real estate websites. Browsing rental listings during your multifamily home search can help gauge the market in terms of vacancy rates and rental pricing.

Working with a buyer’s agent who specializes in multifamily homes can help narrow your search and home in on in-demand neighborhoods.

Alternatively, you can look into buying a foreclosed home. This may help get a deal, but it’s not uncommon for foreclosed properties to require renovations and investment.

The Takeaway

Buying a multifamily home as a residence or investment property can provide rental income and build wealth. It’s also a major financial decision. Whether you’re planning to be an owner-occupant or not will affect your financing, so seriously consider this option and run the numbers to see if you stand to recoup your costs — and ideally make a profit — from the building’s rental income.

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

SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.

https://www.sofi.com/home-loans/mortgage/“>

FAQ

What is the difference between residential and multifamily?

Some multifamily homes — those with fewer than five units — are considered residential real estate. Larger properties with more than five units are commercial real estate.


Photo credit: iStock/krzysiek73

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


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


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

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

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.

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What Is an Apartment? Should You Consider Owning One?

What Is an Apartment? Should You Consider Owning One?

If you’re thinking about buying an apartment, you’ll probably look at co-ops and condos rather than single-family homes.

Read on to understand the difference between condos and co-ops, the forms an apartment might take, and who might be best suited to buy one.

What Is an Apartment?

An apartment is a property within a larger building, and especially in big cities, it’s not uncommon to hear that someone is buying an apartment.

When a buyer is considering different types of homes, the price of an apartment often beats that of a single-family home with land.

Both co-ops and condos allow residents to use the common areas, including pools, gyms, and courtyards. If you buy a condo, you’ll own everything within your unit and have an interest in the common elements. If you “buy a co-op apartment,” that really means you’ll hold shares in the residents’ housing cooperative, a nonprofit corporation that owns the property, and will have the right to live in one of the co-op units. Shares are based on the market value of each unit.

Getting a mortgage loan for a co-op might be harder than for a condo. You aren’t actually buying real estate with the former. (A home loan help center may, well, help.)

And monthly fees tend to be higher at a co-op than for a condo.

Then again, the co-op fee may cover more, co-op units tend to cost less per square foot, and the closing costs of a co-op deal are often lower.

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


What Are the Types of Apartments?

Diving further into the definition, the apartment shape-shifts. While they may all technically be apartments, each comes with its own quirks and defining characteristics. Especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer, you’ll want to get comfortable with the lingo. Layouts or terminology may vary by building or region.

Studio

The ultimate open-concept space, a studio is a one-room apartment with a bathroom. The bedroom, living room, dining room, and kitchen are all in a single room.

Alcove Studio

An alcove studio, if L shaped, has a built-in nook to signify where a bed and small dresser could go. Older units might put the alcove in the middle of the room. If an average studio is 550 square feet, the alcove might add 40 — not much, but a big dose of privacy.

Alcove studio apartments are often more expensive than studios but cheaper than true one-bedroom units.

Convertible Apartment

A step up, size-wise, from a traditional studio, a convertible apartment may have a bedroom or a flex space that could be used as an office. The space might have a sliding glass door or partial wall that has an opening instead of a door.

By some definitions, a convertible apartment is bigger than a typical studio but doesn’t quite have the square footage of a one-bedroom unit. A bedroom, according to New York City regulations, must be at least 80 square feet and have space for at least one window of 12 square feet or larger.

Micro-Apartment

The micro-apartment might be the perfect fit for a minimalist. Usually micro-apartments are even smaller than studios, at about 350 square feet, and are popular in densely populated, high-cost cities. Micro-apartments offer enough space for a bed, sitting area, kitchenette, and tiny bathroom.

A micro-apartment might have a Murphy bed or a futon that folds into a bed at night.

Loft

Lofts are typically retrofitted from a factory or other commercial building. In one open space (except the bathroom), lofts have high ceilings, large windows, and perhaps an overall industrial feel.

Garden Apartment

A garden apartment can refer to two distinct types of units, so buyers should pay attention. A garden apartment can be a unit in the basement or on the ground floor of a small apartment building.

A garden apartment can also mean apartment buildings surrounded by greenery in either an urban or suburban area. These buildings are typically no higher than three stories and have access to green space, such as a park or trail.

High-Rise

A high-rise apartment building has 12 floors or more. When apartment buildings enter high-rise territory, residents can expect one or more elevators.

Mid-Rise

A mid-rise apartment building is between five and 11 stories tall. Expect an elevator in the building.

Low-Rise

A low-rise apartment building is anything shorter than five stories. With a low-rise apartment, there’s no guarantee of an elevator.

Railroad Apartment

A railroad apartment is laid out like a train car, meaning one room leads to the next without a hallway. Railroad apartments are typically found in older buildings or converted properties.

Walk-Up

In a walk-up, residents should expect to, well, walk up to their apartment. The designation implies that the building doesn’t have an elevator.

Walk-up apartments are often more affordable than elevator-accessible units, as stairs may be inconvenient or unmanageable.

Recommended: Tips to Qualify for a Mortgage

Should You Live In an Apartment? Who Are Apartments Best Suited for?

Apartment living isn’t for everyone. Those best suited to an apartment might want some or all of the following:

•   City living. Apartments are often in densely populated areas, meaning residents want to be near the hustle and bustle.

•   Limited space. Apartments typically have less space than traditional family homes, so they are often best suited for small families or singles.

•   Low maintenance. Exterior repairs and maintenance, and even some utilities, are up to the building at large, not the resident.

•   Relatively good price. Apartments are typically more affordable than nearby single-family homes, meaning they could be a good fit for the price-sensitive buyer.

•   Minimal lifestyle. Those who don’t need a lot of space may prefer a condo or co-op unit to a sprawling home.

Pros and Cons of Living in an Apartment

As with any type of home, living in an apartment comes with its benefits and drawbacks.

Pros

Cons

Outdoor space Residents aren’t responsible for maintaining exterior or green space. Limited or no private green outdoor space — or no outdoor space at all.
Maintenance Residents are typically responsible for their unit alone. The monthly fee can be high and on the rise.
Group living Neighborly vibe and shared amenities that could include a gym, pool, rooftop patio, and business center or community room. Close proximity to neighbors, often with one or more shared walls, floors, or ceilings.
Square footage Apartments are often smaller, which means less upkeep, from cleaning to repairs. Smaller spaces can mean less storage and room to spread out.
Affordability Apartments tend to be more affordable than single-family homes in the same area. Condos and co-op units don’t appreciate as quickly as single-family homes.

The Takeaway

If you’re interested in buying an apartment, you’re probably talking about a condo or co-op unit. Apartments come in all shapes and sizes and can sometimes be a little trickier to finance than traditional homes. But with a bit of smart shopping and some good research skills you’re likely to find both the apartment and the mortgage loan that is the best fit for you.

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

What are the costs of owning an apartment?

Apartments come with a monthly fee. Condo fees are usually lower than a co-op’s, because the latter fee can include payment for the building’s mortgage and property taxes, utilities, maintenance, and security.

Is it a good idea to buy an apartment?

For a buyer focused on less maintenance and typically limited square footage, an apartment may be the right fit.

What should I look for when renting an apartment?

One of the first things to ask when renting an apartment is what is included. Does rent include any utilities, laundry in the unit, or parking?

It’s a good idea to also ask about credit requirements, application fee, security deposit, and terms of the lease.

What credit score do you need to rent an apartment by yourself?

All landlords are different, but many look for a FICO® score above 600. Not all property managers look at credit scores, though.


Photo credit: iStock/hrabar

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


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


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

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

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.

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How Many Bank Statements Do You Need for a Mortgage?

When you’re applying for a home loan, your mortgage lender is going to be interested (understandably) in your ability to repay the likely six-figure sum you are borrowing. And that means providing proof of both your income and your existing assets — which may mean sharing some bank statements with the lender.

The number of bank statements you’ll need to provide depends on the lender you choose as well as the type of loan you’re applying for. You typically won’t have to submit more than two months’ worth of statements. In some cases, however, you may need to provide six to 12 months’ worth of bank statements. To know for sure how many bank statements you need to submit, the best move is to talk to your loan officer.

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


How to Get Bank Statements

Once you know how many bank statements you need based on your lender’s mortgage requirements, the next question is: how and where do you get them? These days, bank statements can usually be downloaded from your bank’s online portal (you’ll probably be able to access your entire bank statement history). If you have trouble finding the documents, you can contact your bank’s customer service team.

It’s not unusual to wonder how long to keep bank statements and other financial documents, and banks are accustomed to receiving requests for old statements.

Why Are Bank Statements Needed for Mortgage Applications?

Bank statements are used by mortgage lenders in order to ensure you have the money it will take to fund the upfront costs of the loan, as well as to confirm that you have regular income. However, lenders may also use other documents to confirm these eligibility requirements, such as tax returns or W-2s. It can be a hassle to pull together all the paperwork for your mortgage application, but documentation is an important part of the lender’s defense against mortgage fraud.

What Underwriters Look for in Bank Statements

Mortgage underwriters may also be looking at your bank statements to ensure the funds you’re using for your down payment or closing costs are “seasoned money.” That is to say, the money has been in your possession for 60 days or more. This is because some lenders have restrictions against gift funds or family loans being used to pay upfront loan costs, such as the down payment on a home.

What Are Bank Statement Loans?

Bank statement loans are mortgages that use bank statements specifically, rather than tax returns, to qualify applicants for a mortgage loan. If you’re applying for a bank statement mortgage, you will likely need to submit substantially more of those statements — sometimes as much as two years’ worth.

Bank statement loans can make getting a mortgage possible for self-employed borrowers or others whose paperwork might not match the traditional required documentation. However, they can be harder to find, and may come with more stringent credit requirements and higher minimum down payments.

What Other Documents Are Needed for a Mortgage Application?

Of course, the best way to know exactly what documentation is required for your mortgage application is to ask your lender. However, documents that are often required for a mortgage application include the following:

•   W-2 forms

•   Pay stubs

•   Tax returns

•   Bank statements

•   Alimony or child support documentation

•   Retirement and investment account statements

•   Gift letter, if you’re using gift funds

•   Identification documentation

Depending on your specific circumstances, you may also need to provide proof of rental payments, a divorce decree, any bankruptcy or foreclosure records, or other specific documents. Again, your lender will have the full details.

The Takeaway

Depending on the type of loan you’re applying for, you may need to submit only a couple months’ worth of bank statements — or up to two years of banking history. Fortunately, bank statements are easy to generate in most banks’ online management portals, so all you’ll have to do is download and submit them.

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

Does FHA require 2 months of bank statements?

Lenders offering Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans have their own specific requirements as far as how many months of bank statements you’ll need to provide. Some lenders offer FHA loans with just two months’ worth of statements, but you may be asked to submit more if the lender has specific requirements or some other part of your application creates the need (such as a lower credit score, for example).

How many months of bank statements do you need to refinance your mortgage?

Refinancing your mortgage is, in many ways, basically just like getting a mortgage in the first place — which means that you’ll again likely be asked to submit two months’ worth of bank statements. However, as always, specific lenders have different requirements, and if you have a nontraditional application, you may be asked to submit more.

What is a 12-month bank statement mortgage?

Also known as a bank statement loan, these mortgages use bank statements as the primary qualifying factor to approve you for a home loan (as opposed to other traditional documentation like W-2s or tax returns). For these loans, you may need to provide 12 or even 24 months’ worth of bank statements, since they’ll be such an important source of information for the lender.


Photo credit: iStock/brizmaker

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


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


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

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

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.

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.
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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What Is a Wrap-Around Mortgage and How Does It Work?

What Is a Wrap-Around Mortgage and How Does It Work?

A wrap-around mortgage is a form of seller financing that benefits the seller financially and helps buyers who can’t qualify for a traditional mortgage.

There are risks associated with this kind of creative financing, and alternatives to consider.

What Is a Wrap-Around Mortgage?

Traditionally, a buyer weighs the different mortgage types and obtains a mortgage loan to pay the seller for the home. The seller’s existing mortgage gets paid off, with any extra money going to the seller.

With a wrap-around mortgage, a form of owner financing, the original mortgage is kept intact, and the funds a buyer needs to purchase the home are “wrapped around” the current balance.

How Does a Wrap-Around Mortgage Work?

First, the seller must have an assumable mortgage and lender permission to wrap the mortgage. The seller and buyer agree on a price and down payment.

The buyer signs a promissory note, vowing to make agreed-upon payments to the seller. The seller might transfer the home title to the buyer at that time or when the loan is repaid.

The seller continues to make regular mortgage payments to their lender, keeping any monetary overage.

To make this feasible and worthwhile to the seller, the buyer typically pays a higher interest rate than what’s being charged on the original loan (on which the seller is still making payments).

Let’s say you want to sell your home for $200,000, and you still owe $75,000 on your mortgage at 5%. You find a buyer who is willing to pay your price but who can’t get a conventional mortgage approved.

Your buyer can give you $20,000 for a down payment. The two of you will then sign a promissory note for $180,000, at, say, 7%. You’ll make a profit on the spread between the two interest rates and the difference between the sale price and original mortgage balance.

If you’re crunching numbers, a mortgage payment calculator can help.

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


What Are the Advantages of a Wrap-Around Mortgage?

Here are ways that a wrap-around mortgage can benefit the buyer as well as the seller.

Benefits for the buyer:

•   A carry-back loan allows you to buy a house that you might not otherwise qualify for, perhaps because of low credit scores.

•   As long as a seller is willing to sell to you under this arrangement, your financing is essentially approved without your needing to do anything else.

•   You’ll pay no closing costs on the loan.

•   If you are self-employed, you likely won’t need to provide statements from past income as you would with a traditional mortgage lender. The seller may only be interested in your ability to pay now.

Benefits for the seller:

•   You don’t need to wait for a buyer to be approved for financing.

•   You can charge a higher interest rate than what you’re paying, allowing you the opportunity to create steady cash flow and make a profit.

•   In a buyer’s market, where the supply of homes for sale is greater than demand, your willingness to offer a wrap-around mortgage can make you stand out.

Are There Risks With Wrap-Around Mortgages?

Yes. Wrap-around mortgages come with risks for both buyers and sellers.

Risks for the buyer:

•   You’ll likely want to pay an attorney to review the agreement. If you don’t, then you’re assuming more of the risks as described in the next two bullet points.

•   You are putting your trust in the seller. If they don’t keep up the mortgage payments on the original loan, the home could go into foreclosure. (You could ask to make payments directly to the lender, which the seller may or may not agree to.)

•   If the seller has not told their lender about the arrangement, this could lead to problems. If the original mortgage has a due-on-sale clause, the financial institution could demand payment in full from the seller.

Risks for the seller:

•   The buyer may not make payments on time — or could stop making them altogether. If this happens, you still owe mortgage payments to your lender.

•   Any lag in making your payments can have a significant negative impact on your credit scores, making it more challenging to get good interest rates on loans.

•   Suing the buyer for past-due funds can get expensive, and if the buyer doesn’t have the money to pay you, this may not provide you with any real mortgage relief.

If you’re shopping for a mortgage, it can make sense to explore alternatives. A home loan help center is a good place to start.

Alternatives to Wrap-Around Mortgages

Alternatives can include the following:

•   FHA loans

•   VA loans

•   USDA loans

Here’s an overview of each.

FHA Loans

With loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration, FHA-approved lenders can offer low down payments while easing up on credit scores required to qualify.

VA Loans

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers low-interest-rate VA loans directly to qualifying borrowers (based on service history and duty status) and backs loans made by participating lenders.

USDA Loans

The U.S. Department of Agriculture guarantees USDA loans for qualifying rural Americans who have low to moderate levels of income. The USDA also offers funding to improve homes to safe and sanitary standards.

The Takeaway

A wrap-around mortgage could sound enticing, but buyer beware. Taking time to repair damaged credit or looking into other types of loans might make more sense. If you do enter into this transaction, you’ll probably want to involve a lawyer to make sure your interests are protected.

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


SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.

FAQ

Is a wrap-around mortgage a good idea?

This type of mortgage has benefits and risks for both the buyer and the seller.

What is an example of a wrap-around mortgage?

Let’s say a buyer can’t get traditional financing but agrees to purchase a $250,000 house from the seller, with some down payment. The seller still owes $50,000. The buyer agrees to make payments to the seller on the purchase price, and the seller uses a portion of that money to make the usual mortgage payments. The seller profits from charging a higher interest rate than that of the original mortgage.

Who is responsible for a wrap-around loan?

The buyer will be responsible for making payments to the seller according to the agreement signed by the two parties. The seller will be responsible for continuing to make payments on the original mortgage until it is paid off. So both parties have responsibilities to fulfill.

Can wrap-around loans help a buyer purchase a home?

Yes. The key benefit for buyers is that seller financing helps them purchase a home that they otherwise may not have been able to own.


Photo credit: iStock/Tatiana Buzmakova

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


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


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

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

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.

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