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What Is A Conventional Home Loan?

Nothing compares to scrolling through listings until you find the home with the perfect garden, garage, and floors. Then comes the less fun part: figuring out how to finance your home purchase.

For the vast majority of people, acquiring a new home means taking out a mortgage, a loan for the part of the house cost that isn’t covered by the down payment.

U.S. homeownership hovers near 66%, and millennials continue to be the biggest share of buyers. What kind of loan do most go for? The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. But conventional loan requirements vary, and some may find that a government-sponsored loan is a better fit.

Let’s take a closer look at conventional loan requirements and the difference between FHA and conventional loans.

Conventional Mortgages Explained

Conventional mortgages are insured by private lenders, not a government agency, and are the most common type of home loan.

Then there are government-guaranteed home loans. FHA loans are more commonly used than VA loans (for service members, veterans, and eligible surviving spouses) and USDA loans (rural housing). Government loans are often easier to qualify for.

Taking out a conventional home loan means that you are making an agreement with a lender to pay back what you borrowed, with interest.

And unlike with an FHA loan, the government does not offer any assurances to the lender that you will pay back that loan. That’s why lenders look at things like your credit score and down payment when deciding whether to offer you a conventional mortgage and at what rate.

See how SoFi can help make your
dream home a reality.


Two Main Types of Conventional Loans

Fixed Rate

A conventional loan with a fixed interest rate is one in which the rate won’t change over the life of the loan. If you have a “fully amortized conventional loan,” your monthly principal and interest payment will stay the same each month.

Although fixed-rate loans can provide predictability when it comes to payments, they may initially have higher interest rates than adjustable-rate mortgages.

Fixed-rate conventional loans can be a great option for homebuyers during periods of low rates because they can lock in a rate and it won’t rise, even decades from now.

Recommended: Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) vs. Fixed Rate Mortgage

Adjustable Rate

Adjustable-rate mortgages have the same interest rate for a set period of time, and then the rate will adjust for the rest of the loan term.

The major upside to choosing an ARM is that the initial rate is usually set below prevailing interest rates and remains constant for six months to 10 years.

A 7/6 ARM of 30 years will have a fixed rate for the first seven years, and then the rate will adjust once every six months over the remaining 23 years. A 5/1 ARM will have a fixed rate for five years, followed by a variable rate that adjusts every year.

An ARM may be a good option if you’re not planning on staying in the home long term. The downside, of course, is that if you are, your interest rate could end up higher than you want it to be.

Most adjustable-rate conventional mortgages have limits on how much the interest rate can increase over time. These caps protect a borrower from facing an unexpectedly steep rate hike.

Conventional Home Loan Requirements

Conventional mortgage requirements vary by lender, but almost all private lenders will require you to have a cash down payment, a good credit score, and sufficient income to make the monthly payments.

Many lenders that offer conventional loans require that you have enough cash to make a decent down payment. Even if you can manage it, is 20% down always best? It might be more beneficial to put down less than 20% on your dream house.

You’ll also need to demonstrate a good credit history. For example, you’ll want to show that you make loan payments on time every month.

Each conventional loan lender sets its own requirements when it comes to credit scores, but generally, the higher your credit score, the easier it will be to secure a conventional mortgage at a competitive interest rate.

Most lenders will require you to show that you have a sufficient monthly income to meet the mortgage payments. They will also require information about your employment and bank accounts.

Recommended: Mortgage Calculator

How Do FHA and Conventional Loans Differ?

One of the main differences between FHA loans and conventional loans is that the latter are not insured by a federal agency.

FHA loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration, so lenders take on less risk. If a borrower defaults, the FHA will help the lender recoup some of the lost costs.

FHA loans are easier to qualify for, and are geared toward lower- and middle-income homebuyers. They require at least 3.5% down.

Additionally, the loans are limited to a certain amount of money, depending on the geographic location of the house you’re buying. The lender administering the FHA loan can impose its own requirements as well.

An FHA loan can be a good option for a buyer with a lower credit score, but it also will require a more rigorous home appraisal and possibly a longer approval process than a conventional loan.

Conventional loans require private mortgage insurance if the down payment is less than 20%, but PMI will automatically terminate when the loan balance reaches 78% of the original value of the mortgaged property, unless the borrower asked to stop paying PMI once the balance reached 80% of the original property value.

FHA loans require mortgage insurance, no matter the down payment amount, and it cannot be canceled unless you refinance into a conventional loan.

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

The Takeaway

A conventional home loan and FHA loan differ in key ways, such as credit score requirements. If you’re ready to make your dream house a reality, you’ll want to size up your eligibility and your mortgage options.

SoFi offers fixed-rate mortgage loans with as little as 5% down and terms of 10, 15, 20, and 30 years.

It takes just two minutes to get prequalified online.



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

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), and by SoFi Lending Corp. NMLS #1121636 , a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law (License # 6054612) and by other states. For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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Understanding Seller Concessions_780x440

Understanding Seller Concessions

Buying a new home requires managing a lot of moving parts, from mortgage preapproval to closing. Even after an offer is accepted, buyers and sellers are still at the negotiating table. If closing costs or surprise expenses become too much for the buyer, a seller concession could help seal the deal.

Although seller concessions can work to a buyer’s advantage, they are neither a guaranteed outcome nor a one-size-fits-all solution for every real estate transaction.

To determine if seller concessions are the right move from a buyer’s perspective, here are some key things to know, including what costs they can cover and when to consider asking for them.

Recommended: How Much Are Closing Costs on a New Home?

What Are Seller Concessions?

Seller concessions represent a seller’s contribution toward the buyer’s closing costs, which include certain prepaid expenses and discount points. A seller concession is not the equivalent of a price reduction; nor is it received as cash or a loan discount.

Closing costs usually range from 2% to 5% of a home’s purchase price. When combined with a down payment, the upfront expense of buying a home can be burdensome, especially for first-time homebuyers.

Buyers can ask for concessions on the initial purchase offer or later if the home inspection reveals problems that require repairs.

Although this can be a helpful tool to negotiate a house price, there are rules for eligible costs and limits to how much buyers can ask for.

Recommended: Home Buyer’s Guide

What Costs Can Seller Concessions Cover?

A buyer’s closing costs can vary case by case. Generally, buyers incur fees related to the mortgage loan and other expenses to complete the real estate transaction.

There are also types of prepaid expenses and home repairs that can be requested as a seller concession.

Some common examples of eligible costs include the following:

•   Property taxes: If the sellers have paid their taxes for the year, the buyer may be required to reimburse the sellers for their prorated share.

•   Appraisal fees: Determining the estimated home value may be required by a lender to obtain a mortgage. Appraisal costs can vary by geography and home size but generally run between $300 and $500.

•   Loan origination fees: Money paid to a lender to process a mortgage, origination fees, can be bundled into seller concessions.

•   Homeowners insurance costs: Prepaid components of closing costs like homeowners insurance premiums can be included in seller concessions.

•   Title insurance costs: A title insurance company will search if there are any liens or claims against the property. This verification, which averages $1,000 but varies widely, protects both the homeowner and lender.

•   Funding fees: One-time funding fees for federally guaranteed mortgages, such as FHA and VA loans, can be paid through seller contributions. Rates vary based on down payment and loan type.

•   Attorney fees: Many states require a lawyer to handle real estate closings. Associated fees can run $500 to $1,500, based on location.

•   Recording fees: Some local governments may charge a fee to document the purchase of a home.

•   HOA fees: If a home is in a neighborhood with a homeowners association, there will likely be monthly dues to pay for maintenance and services. A portion of these fees may be covered by the seller.

•   Discount points: Buyers may pay an upfront fee, known as discount points, to lower the interest rate they pay over the life of the mortgage loan. (The cost of one point is 1% of the loan amount.)

•   Home repairs: If any issues emerge during a home inspection, the repair costs can be requested as a seller concession.

Closing costs can also be influenced by the mortgage lender. When shopping for a mortgage, evaluating expected fees and closing costs is a useful way to compare lenders. Factoring in these costs early on can give buyers a more accurate idea of what they can afford and better inform their negotiations with a seller.

Recommended: Home Improvement Calculator

Rules and Limits for Seller Concessions

Determining how much to ask for in seller concessions isn’t just about negotiating power. For starters, the seller’s contributions can’t exceed the buyer’s closing costs.

Other factors can affect the allowable amount of seller concessions, including the type of mortgage loan and whether the home will serve as a primary residence, vacation home, or investment property.

Here’s a breakdown of how concessions work for common types of loans.

Conventional Loans

Guidance on seller concessions for conventional loans is set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These federally sponsored enterprises buy and guarantee mortgages issued through lenders in the secondary mortgage market.

With conventional loans, the limit on seller concessions is calculated as a percentage of the home sale price based on the down payment and occupancy type.

If it’s an investment property, buyers can only request up to 2% of the sale price in seller concessions.

For a primary or secondary residence, seller concessions can add up to the following percentages of the home sale price:

•   Up to 3% when the down payment is less than 10%
•   Up to 6% when the down payment is 10-25%
•   Up to 9% when the down payment is greater than 25%

FHA Loans

FHA loans, which are insured by the Federal Housing Administration, are a popular financing choice because down payments may be as low as 3.5%, depending on a borrower’s credit score.

For this type of mortgage, seller concessions are limited to 6% of the home sale price.

VA Loans

Active service members, veterans, and surviving spouses may qualify for a mortgage loan guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. For buyers with this type of mortgage, seller concessions are capped at 4% of the home sale price.

VA loans also dictate what types of costs may qualify as a seller concession. Some eligible examples: paying property taxes and VA loan fees or gifting home furnishings, such as a television.

Seller Concession Advantages

There are a few key ways seller concessions can benefit a homebuyer. For starters, they can reduce the amount paid out of pocket for closing costs. This can make the upfront costs of a home purchase more affordable and avoid depleting savings.

Reducing closing costs could help a buyer make a higher offer on a home, too. If it’s a seller’s market, this could be an option to be a more competitive buyer.

Buyers planning significant home remodeling may want to request seller concessions to keep more cash on hand for their projects.

Seller Concession Disadvantages

Seller concessions can also come with some drawbacks. If sellers are looking for a quick deal, they may view concessions as time-consuming and decline an offer.

When sellers agree to contribute to a buyer’s closing costs, the purchase price can go up accordingly. The deal could go awry if the home is appraised at a value less than the agreed-upon sale price. Unless the seller agrees to lower the asking price to align with the appraised value, the buyer may have to increase their down payment to qualify for their original financing.

Another potential downside is that buyers could ultimately pay more over the loan’s term if they receive seller concessions than they would otherwise. If a buyer offers, say, $350,000 and requests $3,000 in concessions, the seller may counteroffer with a purchase price of $353,000, with $3,000 in concessions.

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

The Takeaway

Seller concessions can make a home purchase more affordable for buyers by reducing closing costs and expenses, but whether it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market will affect a buyer’s potential to negotiate. A real estate agent can offer guidance on asking for seller concessions.

The vast majority of homebuyers finance their purchase. So for most buyers, finding the right mortgage is an important step in landing their dream home.

SoFi offers home mortgages with competitive rates and down payments as low as 5%. And prequalifying takes just a few minutes.

Buying a home? Find out how much you could qualify for with SoFi.



SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), and by SoFi Lending Corp. NMLS #1121636 , a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law (License # 6054612) and by other states. For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

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

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

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Is It Worth Doing a Laundry Room Remodel_780x440

Is It Worth Doing a Laundry Room Remodel?

Laundry rooms are the workhorses of the home. They’re also often sandwiched into small spaces, or in areas of the home that aren’t all that convenient, causing some homeowners to consider a remodel.

Whether you should undertake a laundry room remodel depends on what you plan to use it for, its size, the kinds of appliances you need, and any special décor touches you’d like to add.

A remodel might be worth it if it creates a perky and efficient space or creates a room that has a dual function.

Before Starting Your Laundry Room Remodel

If you’ve been thinking about giving your laundry room a clean start, you’ve probably got a lot of ideas and inspiration swimming in your head.

Before embarking on your project, you want to really think through what you’re hoping to accomplish by asking yourself the following questions.

What’s the Scope of the Project?

Some remodels involve small improvements like new paint and cabinetry, while others call for tearing through walls, moving plumbing, or even relocating your laundry room to another area of the home.

Appliances should also be addressed. Will you need a new washer and dryer, or do you plan on using the ones you currently have?

What Do You Plan to Use Your Laundry Room For?

While most laundry rooms are used solely for handling laundry, others also act as mudrooms and storage for cleaning supplies, sports gear, and bulk shopping items like bottled water, paper products, and even pet food.

What your laundry room is used for will affect the laundry room remodel ideas available to you.

How Often and When Do You Do Laundry?

If you have a large family and do frequent washing and drying, that will influence the design of your new laundry room. You may need ample counter space for folding, for example, a fold-down ironing board, or bins to hold each person’s clean clothing.

If you tend to do the laundry during the day, you may consider adding a window. Are you more of a nighttime launderer? Under-cabinet lighting may help weary eyes.

What Are Your Must-Haves?

Some homeowners struggle with disorganization and need bins and baskets to keep things tidy. Others are looking to add features like a sink, or build out their laundry room to accommodate more counter space.

Whatever your desire, it’s a good idea to list what you can’t live without so you can build them into your budget.

How Much Can You Spend?

The scope of your project will dictate your budget and how you plan to pay for your remodel.

Some homeowners, seeing a laundry room remodel as a way to increase their home’s value, may opt to borrow to pay for the project. Others may choose to keep things scaled down so they don’t spend beyond what they have on hand.

Recommended: Home Improvement Cost Calculator

Laundry Room Remodel Ideas

Now that you’ve got the foundation of your project mapped out, it’s time to envision how your laundry room remodel will take shape. That will depend on the following factors.

If You Have Limited Space

Small laundry rooms can still pack a punch, thanks to creative ways to maximize your available space. You can do that by tucking laundry baskets under counters, adding a rod under cabinets to hang clothes, and using wall space for hooks to hang laundry bags or baskets that can hold clothespins, detergent, and dryer sheets.

Don’t forget that laundry rooms don’t need to be true rooms; if you’re short on space, consider tucking your washer and dryer into an unused closet and installing a farmhouse door for easy access.

Depending on its size, you can then use the prior laundry room as a guest room, home office, nursery, or kids’ playroom.

Recommended: Closet Remodel Guide

If You’ll Be Using the Room for More Than Cleaning Clothes

The list of ways to use a laundry room is endless, and will largely depend on each household’s needs.

•   Got a large dog? You might consider installing a pet-washing station, especially if you are already planning on undertaking plumbing work.
•   Need a quiet place to conduct conference calls at home? A fold-down workstation meets both needs.
•   Larger families may tuck an additional fridge in the laundry room.
•   People who love to entertain may find storage for plates and glassware in the laundry room.

Your Budget

A laundry room remodel can quickly add up if new plumbing, cabinetry, and construction work are involved.

If you find yourself running beyond what you’re willing to spend, think of creative ways to get the laundry room you want without breaking the bank.

That might entail painting cabinets instead of replacing them, using open shelving instead of custom built-ins, and opting for durable paint in place of tiled backsplashes.

Recommended: Easy Home Improvement Projects for Beginners

DIY vs. Calling In an Expert

Many homeowners are comfortable with do-it-yourself projects. In a laundry room remodel, these might include painting, replacing cabinetry, and installing shelving and hanging rods.

Other projects—moving water lines, installing new sinks or drywall, and demolition— require hiring a professional. Mapping out which projects you will need to outsource will affect your budget and may also affect the scope of your project.

Paying for It

Smaller laundry room remodels, or those that require just a new coat of paint, a new washer, and dryer, or a retrofitting of shelving to maximize storage space can be done with fairly little outlay, especially if you do it yourself or have a friend or family member lend a hand.

Larger ones, or those that call for extensive demolition, architecture work, or the services of a general contractor, will be more expensive, of course.

The size of the project—and therefore how much money you’ll need—matters, as does your timeline for paying back any loan.

Here are some options:

•   Cash
•   A home improvement loan, aka personal loan. Your home isn’t used as collateral to secure the loan.
•   A home equity loan or a revolving home equity line of credit, which do use your home as collateral.
•   Cash-out refinance, which replaces your mortgage with a new loan for more than you owe. The difference goes to you in cash, for home improvements or anything else.

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

The Takeaway

Laundry room ideas range from DIY tweaks to soap-operatic overhauls. A laundry room remodel may increase the value of your home or simply make life a little easier. Start by listing what you want to achieve and how you’re going to pay for it.

SoFi offers a range of ways to pay for home improvements like a more inviting space in which to do laundry or a room that does double duty.

If you need a home loan (with as little as 5% down), an investment property loan, a cash-out refi, or an unsecured personal loan, SoFi offers all of them at competitive rates.

Plus you become a SoFi member, which comes with a laundry list of perks.



SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), and by SoFi Lending Corp. NMLS #1121636 , a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law (License # 6054612) and by other states. For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

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

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

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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 might want to try this handy home improvement ROI estimator.

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, tearing out a tub and installing a walk-in shower in a bathroom, or turning a small guest bedroom into a home office.

Recommended: Closet Remodel Guide

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. 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 to hire 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: Average Cost To Remodel

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 no-fee personal loans online 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 options requiring as little as 5% down.

Check your rate and start planning that remodel or renovation.



SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), and by SoFi Lending Corp. NMLS #1121636 , a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law (License # 6054612) and by other states. For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

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

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

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What Is a Deed in Lieu_780x440

What Is a Deed in Lieu?

Buying a home is a major responsibility. If you are unable to continue paying the mortgage on your house, what happens next? You’ve heard of foreclosure and know it can get rather nasty. But did you realize there’s another option called a deed in lieu of foreclosure?

This option may be a bit less stressful than foreclosure, has less of a negative impact on a credit report, and may be faster to complete.

What Is a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure?

Where a foreclosure may involve the court and a lengthy process, the alternative, deed in lieu of foreclosure, is fairly simple.

If your lender agrees, you simply hand over the deed and the lender releases the lien on the property. You may be released from any balance you owed on the mortgage (there may be exceptions if you owe more than the home is worth).

And while a deed in lieu will appear on your credit report, it doesn’t have as severe an impact as a foreclosure.

The lender might even offer you financial assistance to spruce up the home to make it more sellable.

Recommended: Tips On Buying a Foreclosed Home

Working With the Lender

Your lender may only consider a deed in lieu of foreclosure in certain situations.

The lender might require that you first put your home on the market as a short sale or explore a loan modification.

If you’re completely unable to pay, start by contacting your lender and asking if a deed in lieu of foreclosure is an option. If it is, you’ll be given an application and asked for documents proving your inability to pay the mortgage. The documents will show your income and expenses, as well as bank account balances.

This process can take 30 days or more.

If your application is approved, you may want a real estate lawyer to review it to help you understand whether you are fully released from the financial obligations tied to the mortgage. For example, if the lender sells the home for less than the remaining mortgage balance, are you responsible for that deficiency?

Once you are comfortable with the title-transferring agreement, you and the lender will sign it, and it will be notarized and recorded in public records.

At this point, you will be notified how long you have to leave the home.

When to Consider a Deed in Lieu

One instance when a deed in lieu may be a good idea is if you owe more on your home than it is worth, as long as the agreement stipulates that you won’t owe the difference between the value of the home and what you owe.

If you are unable to continue paying your mortgage, realize that a foreclosure will leave a nasty mark on your credit report for seven years and make it difficult or impossible for you to take out another mortgage for years.

A deed in lieu will appear on your credit report, but it may not have the same lasting effect. Your credit score will drop, but long term, it may not affect your ability to take out a loan.

Benefits of a Deed in Lieu

There are advantages for both the borrower and the lender when it comes to a deed in lieu. For both, the big benefit is not having to go through the long and expensive process of foreclosure.

Because a deed in lieu is an agreement between you and the lender and not an order from a court, you may have a little more flexibility in terms of when you vacate the property.

With foreclosure, you are sometimes forced to vacate within days by local law enforcement. With a deed in lieu, you may even be able to work out an arrangement where you rent the property back for a period. The lender gets a little rent money and you have more time to figure out your next move.

This option is more private than a foreclosure, if you’re worried what the neighbors think.

The benefits from the lender’s perspective include avoiding litigation and court time.

Drawbacks of a Deed in Lieu

There’s no getting out of a deed in lieu completely unscathed. It will appear on your credit report, even if it’s not as damaging as a foreclosure.

It may still be difficult to get another mortgage in subsequent years.

If you owe more than your home is worth, you may still be on the hook for the difference between the appraised property value and what you owe.

You may be denied a deed in lieu if there are other liens or tax judgments on the property, or if the home is in bad condition and requires maintenance to sell.

Recommended: Home Affordability Calculator

Being Smart About Your Mortgage

The best thing to do, if at all possible, is to avoid getting into a situation where you can’t afford to pay your mortgage. If you’re having short-term financial issues, talk to your lender immediately to see if there is the possibility of delaying a few months’ payment or setting up a loan modification.

The lender wants to help you; it’s easier to work out an agreement now than several months down the road, when you haven’t paid your mortgage at all and are facing foreclosure.

If you do end up in a situation where you are unable to continue paying your mortgage and you aren’t offered options, consider a deed in lieu of foreclosure as a faster and easier solution than a foreclosure.

If you’re just starting to consider buying a home, calculate how much in mortgage payments you can afford each month. Don’t forget to calculate insurance and interest as well.

It’s also best for any buyer to understand mortgage basics.

Recommended: Mortgage Calculator

The Takeaway

If you can’t get a short sale or loan modification approved, a deed in lieu of foreclosure may be the best option. Rather than go through the foreclosure process, a deed in lieu allows a borrower to sign a property over to the lender.

Credit will take a significant hit, though not as bad as with a foreclosure.

If you’re looking for a mortgage, an investment property loan, or a cash-out refi, SoFi offers a range of options, with a mortgage loan officer guiding you every step of the way.

Check your rate on a SoFi mortgage in two minutes.



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SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), and by SoFi Lending Corp. NMLS #1121636 , a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law (License # 6054612) and by other states. For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

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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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