Homeowners Insurance Coverage Options to Know

Homeowners Insurance Coverage Options to Know

If you’re like many Americans, your home is the single largest purchase you’ll ever make–and one you likely can’t afford to replace if disaster strikes.

That’s why homeowners insurance can be a wise investment. This type of insurance will compensate you if an event covered under your policy damages or destroys your home or personal items.

It will also cover you in certain instances if you injure someone else or cause property damage.

Although having homeowners insurance isn’t required by law, mortgage lenders often require you to insure your home until you’ve paid the loan in full.

Choosing the right coverage for your home–and understanding exactly what is (and what isn’t) covered–can be confusing though.

Some policies cover more than others, and how much coverage you need will depend on your circumstances, as well as your risk tolerance.

Here’s what you need to know about the options available for protecting your home.

Recommended: What’s the Difference Between Homeowners Insurance and Title Insurance?

What Does Homeowners Insurance Typically Cover?


Most standard homeowners insurance policies include six different kinds of important coverage.

•  Dwelling: This covers the physical structure of the home itself, including its foundation, walls, and roof, as well as structures attached to the home such as a front porch.
•  Other structures on your property: This covers things that aren’t attached to the main home structure, like garages and fences.
•  Personal property: This includes personal items including clothing, furniture, and everything else that you put inside your home.
•  Additional living expenses: This provides funds to pay for temporary living expenses, such as hotel costs and restaurant meals, while your home is being repaired or rebuilt.
•  Liability coverage: This protects you against lawsuits and damages you or your family cause to other people or their property.
•  Medical coverage: This is offered to foot the bills incurred by somebody who is injured on your property, whether it’s your fault or theirs.

What Type of Events Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?


The most common type of homeowners insurance policy on the market is called HO-3 insurance.

This insurance includes coverage of 16 specifically named perils, but it may also offer “open peril” coverage, which means that anything that damages your dwelling that is not specifically excluded in the paperwork will be covered by the policy. (This coverage generally does not extend to your personal property, however.)

The 16 named perils typically include:

•  Fire or lightning
•  Windstorms or hail
•  Explosions
•  Riots
•  Damage caused by aircraft
•  Damage caused by vehicles
•  Smoke
•  Vandalism
•  Theft
•  Volcanic eruptions
•  Falling objects
•  Damage due to the weight of ice, snow or sleet
•  Water or steam overflow from plumbing, HVAC systems, internal sprinklers and other appliances
•  Damage due the “sudden and accidental tearing apart,cracking, burning, or bulging” of an HVAC, water-heating, or fire-protective system
•  Freezing of pipes and other household appliances
•  Damage due to a power surge

What Isn’t Covered by Homeowners Insurance?


Homeowners insurance typically covers most scenarios where a loss could occur. However, some events are generally excluded from policies. These often include:

•  Earthquakes, landslides and sinkholes
•  Infestations by birds, vermin, fungus or mold
•  Wear and tear or neglect
•  Nuclear hazard
•  Government action (including war)
•  Power failure

What if you live in a flood or hurricane area? Or an area with a history of earthquakes? You may want to consider a rider (which is supplementary coverage to an existing policy) for these or an extra policy for earthquake insurance or flood insurance.

Home insurance policies also typically set special limits on the amount of reimbursement you can receive in categories such as artwork, jewelry, appliances, tools, electronics, clothing, cash, and firearms.

If you own something particularly valuable, such as fine art painting or piece of expensive jewelry, you might want to purchase a rider that you will be reimbursed in full for it.

What Should I look for in a Homeowners Insurance Policy?


Homeowners insurance companies typically offer three different reimbursement models or levels of coverage.

Which one you choose can be an important decision. That’s because it will impact how you will be reimbursed in the event your home is damaged or burglarized, and also the cost of your premiums.

These are the most common homeowners policy options, listed from least to most costly.

Actual Cash Value


Actual cash value typically covers the cost of the house plus the value of your belongings after deducting depreciation (i.e., how much the items are currently worth, not how much you paid for them). If your five-year-old TV was stolen, for instance, you would not likely get reimbursed for the cost of a brand-new one.

Replacement Cost Value


Replacement value policies generally cover the actual cash value of your home and possessions without the deduction for depreciation, so you would likely be able to repair or rebuild your home and re-buy your possessions up to the original value.

Extended Replacement Cost Value


This coverage will typically pay out more than the original value of your home and belongings, up to a specified limit, if it actually costs more to fix your home and/or replace your possessions.

The limit can be a dollar amount or a percentage, such as 25% above your dwelling coverage amount. This gives you a cushion if rebuilding is more expensive than you expected.

Guaranteed Replacement Cost Value


Guaranteed Replacement Cost is the most comprehensive coverage. This inflation-buffer policy pays for whatever it costs to repair or rebuild your home and replace your possessions—even if it’s more than your policy limit.

This type of coverage can be ideal since you typically don’t need just enough insurance to cover the value of your home, you will likely need enough insurance to rebuild your home, preferably at current prices.

Understanding Homeowners Insurance Deductibles


Homeowners policies typically include an insurance deductible — the amount you’re required to cover before your insurer starts paying.

The deductible can be a flat dollar amount, such as $500 or $1,000. Or, it might be a percentage, such as 1 or 2 percent of the home’s insured value.

When you receive a claim check, an insurer typically subtracts your deductible amount from the total claim.

For instance, if you have a $1,000 deductible and your insurer approves a claim for $8,000 in repairs, the insurer would likely pay $7,000 and you would be responsible for the remaining $1,000.

Choosing a higher deductible will usually reduce your premium. However, you would likely have to shoulder more of the financial burden should you need to file a claim.

A lower deductible, on the other hand, means you might have a higher premium but your insurer would likely pick up a greater portion of the tab after an incident.

The Takeaway


Of the many types of insurance coverage out there on the market, homeowners insurance is one of the most important–it literally protects the roof over your head, which very well might also be your most valuable asset.

Homeowners insurance covers damage to your home and its contents. It also typically reimburses you for losses due to theft and pays out if visitors to your property are injured.

Your policy may also pay for living expenses, such as a hotel stay, if your home becomes uninhabitable.

In some cases, you can get additional policies or riders for events not covered by your regular home insurance, such as flooding, as well as extra coverage for any highly valuable possessions.

Because choosing the right homeowners insurance company and right amount of coverage can be overwhelming, SoFi has partnered with Lemonade to help bring customizable and affordable homeowners insurance to our members.

Prices start as low as $25 per month, and Lemonade gives back leftover money to charities of your choice.

Check out homeowners insurance options offered through SoFi Protect.


SoFi offers customers the opportunity to reach the following Insurance Agents:
Home & Renters: Lemonade Insurance Agency (LIA) is acting as the agent of Lemonade Insurance Company in selling this insurance policy, in which it receives compensation based on the premiums for the insurance policies it sells.

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

Have you noticed a pesky draft in the winter months? Or perhaps blazing sun heats your living space up to greenhouse temperatures in the summertime?

Climate issues inside your home can signal it’s time to replace your windows. Yet doing so will not come cheap. The bill will depend on materials, style (single- or double-hung, single-pane or multipane), size, number needed, and the cost of installation and any commission.

Here’s a look at average cost and some factors that will influence the final price tag.

How Much Do Windows Cost?

Count on a bill of thousands.

A standard new window, installed, can cost anywhere from $400 to $1,000, according to HomeGuide. HomeAdvisor puts the costs at $75 to $1,500 per window and $100 to $300 each for labor.

Three main choices are wood, vinyl, and fiberglass.

Of the three, vinyl windows are the most popular choice. The average cost of a double-hung, double-pane vinyl window, including installation, is $400 to $650, HomeGuide says.

Vinyl windows typically last for 30 years, never need to be painted, and are easy to clean. Compared with their cheaper cousin, aluminum, vinyl windows excel when it comes to insulation and improving energy efficiency, and will not rust.

Fiberglass and fiberglass-composite windows are stronger than vinyl. Like vinyl, they offer a high degree of energy efficiency, and with both types of window, there are options to enhance the energy efficiency. Expect to pay $900 to $1,100 for one fiberglass window, installed, according to The Spruce, though some sites give a lower average cost.

Wood windows can lend a classic look. Expect to pay $700 to $1,000, including installation, according to HomeGuide. Wood windows tend to be harder to maintain than vinyl windows, given that the paint can peel or the wood can start to rot if it gets wet.

When Should I Replace My Windows?

If you’re thinking about replacing your windows, consider these questions. First, do your windows show any damage? Are they drafty, or have you noticed an increase in your electrical bills in the winter when the heat is on, or in the summer when the air conditioning is on?

Is there frequent moisture buildup on the outside of the glass, or is moisture trapped between layers of glazing, signaling leaky seals? Can you hear too much noise outside? Are you ready for a new aesthetic?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, it may be time to consider replacing your windows. Or if you are on a smaller budget, consider repairing them.

If you’re buying a new home, an inspection will be a part of your mortgage process. It’s best to have the windows inspected, and if there are major issues, try to negotiate for their replacement before you close on the house.

Can I Repair Old Windows?

If your windows are in pretty good shape, it may make sense to repair or update them rather than replace them. Doing so can be a cost-effective way to help you save money on energy costs and reduce drafts and moisture in your home.

•   Check windows for air leaks
•   Caulk and add weather stripping as needed
•   Consider solar control film that can block heat and reduce glare
•   If a pane is cracked, in a pinch the glass alone can be replaced with an insulated glass unit.

How Long Do Windows Last?

The lifespan of a window depends on a number of factors, such as quality and type of material, local climate, and proper installation.

Wood windows can last a long time, but might require a bit of maintenance on your part, whereas vinyl or fiberglass windows may require none.

Local weather can play a big part. Extreme heat or cold can shorten the lifespan, salt spray from the ocean can corrode window exteriors, and humidity can lead to warping or rotting.

Whether or not a window is properly installed can also play a big role in how long it lasts. If it is sealed improperly, for example, moisture may get in and damage the frame.

Finally consider how much a window is used. Normal wear and tear on parts in windows that are opened and closed frequently can lead to replacement more often than windows that are rarely opened.

Replace All My Windows at Once?

Whether or not you decide to replace all of your windows at once will largely depend on your budget. Consider that the price to replace 10 windows in a modest house could be several thousand dollars

If you don’t have the budget to replace all your windows in one go, it’s common to swap windows out in stages. In this case, windows at the front of the house are generally the first to be replaced. They’re public facing and add to the curb appeal of the home. The windows in the back of the house tend to come next, followed by any upstairs windows.

There may be economies of scale. After ordering 10 or more windows, the price per window tends to stay the same.

What Type of Window Should I Buy?

The first thing to consider is materials. You might consider wood windows if you’re trying to match them to an existing wood exterior or trim. You might choose fiberglass or composite for its durability and ability to look like painted wood. Or you might choose vinyl for its affordability.

You’ll also want to consider the many types of windows available. For example, single-hung windows are among the most popular and cheapest options. They have a fixed upper window and allow you to open a lower window sash.

Double-hung windows are pricier but have two moving window sashes that allow for increased airflow and easier cleaning. There are also bay windows, arched windows, sliding windows, and many more to choose from.

The glass option you choose is one of the most important decisions. There are a variety of insulating options, such as dual-pane or triple-pane windows. Glass can be treated with a low-emittance coating to reflect heat in the summer and keep it in in the winter.

In climates where you need to cool the house for much of the year, consider three-coat low-e glazing, which best reduces heat from the sun. In colder climates that require more heating, consider a two-coat low-e treatment.

The space between glass may be filled with a nontoxic gas that can provide better insulation than air.

What’s the Best Time of Year for Replacing Windows?

The mild weather of spring, summer, and fall make these times the most popular for replacing windows. In the warmer months, you don’t have to worry about winter air getting into your house, requiring you to jack up your heat or close off rooms to control drafts. These factors can be especially irksome if you’re having multiple windows replaced.

Weather can affect how materials behave. For example, caulk doesn’t adhere well in extreme cold; nor does it cure well in very high temperatures. As a result, you may want to aim to replace windows when temperatures are between 40 and 80 degrees.

If you can stand the cold, you may be able to secure a discount to have windows installed in the winter.

The Takeaway

What does it cost to replace windows? It depends on the materials (wood, vinyl, fiberglass?), style, size, and labor. Think of new windows as a long-term investment that provides energy savings, visual appeal, and enhanced resale value.

Ready to replace some or all of your windows? A personal loan could be the answer. An unsecured personal loan may have advantages over a home equity loan or home equity line of credit when it comes to funding home renovations.

Check your rate on a SoFi Personal Loan today.



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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. Equal Housing Lender.

Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
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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Top 30 States with Foreclosures in February 2021

Despite the economic fallout and job loss from the pandemic, the number of US properties with foreclosure filings in February was 11,281, down 77% from last year, according to ATTOM Data Solutions . This is likely thanks to the COVID-19 foreclosure moratorium for federally guaranteed mortgages, which has been extended to June 30, 2021. (Note: President Joe Biden’s executive order also extended the mortgage payment forbearance enrollment window to June 30, 2021.)

While foreclosures were down for the month compared to last year, they were up compared to the previous month: specifically, foreclosures in February were up 16% compared to January. Read on for the top 30 states with foreclosures in February 2021—plus top counties within those states.

States with the Highest Foreclosure Rates: 1 -10

The top 10 states are not located in any one region. That said, the South had five states in the top 10: Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Georgia. The Northeast had none.

1. Utah

With a total 1,087,112 housing units, Utah’s foreclosure rate was 1 in every 3,883 homes in February. The 31st most populated state in the country, the state saw a total 280 foreclosure filings (default notices, scheduled auctions, and bank repossessions). The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (in descending order): Utah, Ulintah, Beaver, Juab and Carbon.

2. Delaware

With a total 433,195 housing units, Delaware’s foreclosure rate was 1 in every 5,219 homes. Ranking 45th for population, the state had 83 foreclosure filings in February. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (in descending order): Kent, Sussex, and New Castle.

3. Florida

The third most populated state, Florida was also third for most foreclosures. Of its 9,448,159 homes, 1,516 went into foreclosure–making the state’s foreclosure rate 1 in every 6,232. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (in descending order): Highlands, Levy, Hendry, Madison and Taylor.

4. Illinois

With a total housing unit count of 5,360,315, Illinois had 846 homes go into foreclosure, resulting in the state’s foreclosure rate of 1 in every 6,336. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (in descending order): Power, Boundary, Fremont, Payette, and Bannock.

5. Louisiana

With the 25th largest population in the country, Louisiana’s foreclosure rate of 1 in every 7,923 homes put it in the number five spot. Of its total 2,059,918 housing units, 260 went into foreclosure. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (in descending order): Washington, West Baton Rouge, Caddo, Jackson, and Union.

Recommended: Tips on Buying a Foreclosed Home

6. Indiana

With a total 2,886,548 housing units in the state, Indiana’s foreclosure rate was 1 in every 7,930 homes. Ranked the 17th most populated, the state ranked 6th for foreclosures with a total 364 filings. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (in descending order): Vermillion, Clinton, Jasper, Fountain, and Huntington.

7. Ohio

Just like Florida, Ohio’s population ranking (7th) matches its foreclosure rate ranking. With 1 in every 8,310 households going into foreclosure, the state had 626 homes of a total 5,202,304 go into foreclosure. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (in descending order): Lake, Fairfield, Trumbull, Marion, and Cuyahoga.

8. South Carolina

With 1 in every 8,565 homes going into foreclosure, South Carolina was a close eighth to Ohio. Ranked 23rd for population, South Carolina has 2,286,826 housing units and saw 267 foreclosure filings. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (in descending order): Mccormick, Allendale, Fairfield, Darlington, and Bamberg.

9. Wyoming

Though it’s the least populated state in the country, Wyoming ranks 9th for foreclosures with 1 in every 8,651 homes. Of its 276,846 homes, 32 homes were foreclosed on. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (in descending order): Weston, Carbon, Uinta, Campbell, and Lincoln.

10. Georgia

Eighth for most populated state, Georgia was tenth for most foreclosures. It has 4,283,477 housing units, of which 472 went into foreclosure—making the state’s foreclosure rate 1 in every 9,075 households. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (in descending order): Berrien, Baker, Terrell, Oglethorpe, and Candler.

States with the Highest Foreclosure Rates: 11 – 20

With the next group of states, the trend of the South (North Carolina, Missouri, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Mississippi) dominating foreclosure rates continues. The Northeast appears with Maine and New Jersey and the West Coast debuts with California.

11. Maine

Ranked as the 9th least populated state, Maine saw a total 81 foreclosures in February. With a total 742,788 housing units, its foreclosure rate was 1 in every 9,170 homes. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (in descending order): Oxford, Penobscot, Franklin, Waldo, and Somerset.

12. California

The most populated state is only 12th for foreclosures. Of its 14,175,976 homes, 1,427 went into foreclosure, making for a foreclosure rate of 1 in every 9,934 homes. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (in descending order): Calaveras, Sutter, Trinity, Kern, and Butte.

13. North Carolina

The 9th most populated state has 4,627,089 homes, of which 462 homes went into foreclosure. That makes the state’s foreclosure rate 1 in every 10,015 homes. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (in descending order): Hyde, Anson, Lenoir, Onslow, and Bertie.

14. Missouri

Of Missouri’s 2,790,397 housing units, 265 homes went into foreclosure in February. The 18th most populated state’s foreclosure rate is 1 in every 10,530 households. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (in descending order): Moniteau, Pike, Montgomery, Greene, and Adair.

Recommended: What Is a Short Sale?

15. Iowa

The 30th most populated state, Iowa is 15th for most foreclosures. Of its 1,397,087 homes, 128 were foreclosed on. That puts the state’s foreclosure rate at 1 in every 10,915 households. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (in descending order): Guthrie, Wayne, Hamilton, Davis, and Adair.

16. Oklahoma

With 154 of its 1,731,632 homes going into foreclosure, Oklahoma’s foreclosure rate is 1 in every 11,244 households. In the 28th most populated state, the counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (in descending order): Roger Mills, Pawnee, Pontotoc, Muskogee, and Choctaw.

17. Alabama

Ranked 24th for most populated, Alabama was 17th for foreclosures. Of its 2,255,026 homes, 198 went into foreclosure, making for a foreclosure rate of 1 in every 11,389 homes. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (in descending order): Marshall, Jefferson, Coffee, Autauga, and Shelby.

18. New Jersey

New Jersey has a total of 3,616,614 housing units and 317 homes are in foreclosure. While it’s ranked 11th most populated state, its foreclosure rate of 1 in every 11,409 homes puts it in 18th place. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (in descending order): Salem, Atlantic, Sussex, Gloucester, and Cumberland.

19. Alaska

The third least populated state, Alaska has 314,670 homes, of which 26 went into foreclosure in February. That means its foreclosure rate is 1 in every 12,103 homes. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (in descending order): Matanuska-Susitna, Anchorage, Fairbanks North Star, Juneau, and Kenai Peninsula.

20. Mississippi

In the number 20 spot for most foreclosures,Mississippi ranks as 33rd for most populated–and has 1,322,808 homes. A total 107 went into foreclosure in February, making the state’s foreclosure rate 1 in every 12,363 households. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (in descending order): Scott, Simpson, Lawrence, Bolivar, and Pike.

States with the Highest Foreclosure Rates: 21 – 30

The remaining states (21 to 30) in our rankings of the highest foreclosure rates are mainly located in the Northeast: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. The Midwest and Southwest were tied with two states each: Wisconsin and Nebraska and Texas and Arizona.

21. Connecticut

With housing units totaling 1,516,629, Connecticut saw 116 homes go into foreclosure. That puts the 29th most populated state in 21st place, with a foreclosure rate of 1 in every 13,074 homes. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (in descending order): Windham, Litchfield, Tolland, Hartford, and Middlesex.

22. Arizona

Though ranked as the 14th most populated state, Arizona’s total 228 foreclosures (out of 3,003,286 total housing units) puts it in 22nd place for most foreclosures. The state’s foreclosure rate is 1 in every 13,172 households. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (in descending order): Apache, Mohave, Pima, Santa Cruz, and Pinal.

23. Pennsylvania

With a total 5,693,314 housing units, Pennsylvania saw 421 homes go into foreclosure. That puts the foreclosure rate for the 5th most populated state at 1 in every 13,523 households. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (in descending order): Philadelphia, Lycoming, Cambria, Luzerne, and Wyoming.

24. Maryland

The 19th most populated state ranks 24th for foreclosures. Of its 2,448,422 housing units, 170 went into foreclosure, making for a foreclosure rate of 1 in every 14,402 homes. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (in descending order): Somerset, Allegany, Prince George’s County, Caroline, and Baltimore City.

25. Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, the 20th most populated state, there were 179 foreclosures (out of 2,694,527 housing units.) That puts its foreclosure rate at 1 in every 15,053 homes. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (in descending order): Florence, Ashland, Langlade, Vernon, and Grant.

26. Massachusetts

Ranked 15th for most populated, Massachusetts came in as 26th for foreclosures. With 2,897,259 housing units and 172 homes in foreclosure, the state’s foreclosure rate was 1 in every 16,845 households. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (in descending order): Hampden, Franklin, Berkshire, Worcester, and Barnstable.

Recommended: Home Buying 101: How Much House You Can Afford

27. Texas

The second most populated state was 27th for foreclosures. Of 10,937,026 homes, 636 went into foreclosure, making for a foreclosure rate of 1 in every 17,197 households. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (in descending order): Liberty, Atascosa, Franklin, Mills, and Mcculloch.

28. New Hampshire

New Hampshire’s total number of foreclosures was only in the double digits: 35. But in a state with the 10th smallest population (and 634,726 housing units), that number put it in the 28th spot for foreclosures, making for a foreclosure rate of 1 in every 18,135 households. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (in descending order): Cheshire, Sullivan, Merrimack, Belknap, and Strafford.

29. Nebraska

With 46 of a total 837,476 housing units in foreclosure, Nebraska’s total number is also in the double digits. But with a foreclosure rate of 1 in every 18,206 households, the 14th least populated state holds 29th for foreclosures.. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (in descending order): Cuming, Nemaha, Red Willow, Scotts Bluff, and Antelope.

30. Virginia

Last but not least, Virginia saw 192 homes go into foreclosure in February. That nabbed the 12th most populated state the 30th spot on our list. With 3,514,032 total housing units, the state’s foreclosure rate was 1 in every 18,302 households. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (in descending order): Emporia City, Norton City, Nottoway, King William, and Lancaster.

The Takeaway

Of the top 20 states with the highest foreclosure rates, half were in the South: Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, Missouri, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Mississippi. Of the top 30 states, Florida had the most number of foreclosures (1,516) and Alaska had the least (26).

Looking to buy a home? SoFi offers competitive rates, exclusive member discounts, and guidance from mortgage loan officers and member specialists.

Discover more about home loans at SoFi.



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Three House Siding Ideas

With the right home siding ideas, the exterior of a structure can be dramatically improved and the value of the home can potentially increase. When it’s time to replace siding on a house, there are plenty of siding ideas to consider at a variety of prices and returns on investment.

Eco-Friendly Options

Google saw search interest in “how to live a sustainable lifestyle” increase by more than 4,550% from 2019 to 2020. One way to live this type of lifestyle is by choosing eco-friendly siding options to reduce the carbon footprint of the project, either to replace siding on a house or as part of its overall green construction.

More specifically, using recyclable siding materials is one way to be more environmentally friendly, as is selecting material known to be more energy efficient.

Wood can be a good choice because it’s a renewable and sustainable material that can be sourced locally. Manufacturing processes of wood siding can be more environmentally friendly, as well.

Aluminum or steel siding can be a green choice when made from recycled materials. It’s also considered to be an energy-efficient option because of how metal reflects the sun’s rays, unlike some materials that absorb them. Low maintenance associated with metal siding is a plus.

Fiber cement siding is eco-friendly, crafted from natural materials. Although vinyl siding isn’t formed from the most environmentally friendly materials, there is little waste with this type of siding, with insulated options being energy efficient.

Colors with Curb Appeal

Siding color plays a big part in a home’s curb appeal. Combinations of colors and textures can evoke certain feelings, such as using green siding with wood accents to create a natural feel to a home.

In addition, darker colors draw attention to parts of a home while lighter ones can help to de-emphasize areas.

When selecting a color scheme personal taste enters in, but an overall goal might be a compromise between that and looking good in the home’s broader neighborhood.

Some communities may have homes with more subdued hues while others boast more color.

Colonial homes may look best in a single classic color while cottage-style homes may provide a homeowner with more freedom of expression.

Realistic Textures

In the past, siding materials could look “plastic,” rather than mimicking natural grains and textures. Today, though, siding materials often look more attractive and realistic.

When on a budget, today’s vinyl siding can masterfully imitate wood siding at a lower cost with a greater ease of installation. If on a mid-range budget, an option might be fiber cement siding, which combines sand, cellulose and cement, comes in a variety of colors and can be imprinted with designs.

Plus, shingles come in a variety of sizes to help create a personalized appearance. With a bigger budget, stone and brick veneers are an option, as are stucco and new materials that mimic stucco. These choices can give a home a distinctive appearance.

Mixed textures can be eye-catching, whether that includes mixing materials or the width of the siding boards themselves. Metal touches can also be attractive.

Costs of Home Siding

Costs can be approximated, but each project is unique and older homes may have additional issues that will need to be addressed during a home renovation process.

Plus, if a home is old enough to be designated as historic, there will likely be guidelines that need to be followed, which can add to the price tag of improvements.

Costs can range significantly, anywhere from $1,700 for stucco to $125,000 for stone, with an average siding job costing $10,300. Besides considering the materials used, the size of a home is a key factor.

Other factors can include the shape of the house, with those having multiple stories or with eaves and turrets typically being more expensive than a home with a more streamlined structure.

Another factor can be the time of year when the siding is installed, with peak seasons usually more expensive than off-season projects.

Costs of a square foot of siding, not including installation, vary by material, with these as averages:

•   Vinyl: $3 to $12.
•   Engineered wood: $4 to $9.
•   Aluminum: $2 to $5.
•   Wood: $2 to $5.
•   Fiber cement: $5 to $13.50.
•   Brick: $9 to $28.
•   Stucco: $5 to $6.
•   Steel: $4 to $8.
•   Stone: $35 to $50.

It can make sense to get a customized quote for a siding project because there are so many factors that can affect the price.

It may be helpful, too, to compare quotes received to what it costs to paint the exterior of a home.

On average, painting a home’s exterior ranges from $1,734 to $4,120. Although painting is typically less expensive, siding can last for decades, while the exterior of homes often need to be painted every five to ten years.

Siding ROI

According to the National Association of Realtors® (NARI) 2019 Remodeling Impact Report , new vinyl siding is included in the top eight remodeling projects that appeal to buyers, ranking number three.

Plus, this type of siding is ranked number five when it comes to increasing a home’s value for resale. Meanwhile, new fiber cement siding is ranked number five in appealing to buyers and third in increasing a home’s value.

NARI estimates the cost of new fiber cement siding to be $19,700, with $15,000 of the cost recovered at the time of sale. This means that this renovation has a 76% return on investment (ROI). As far as vinyl siding, the estimated cost is $15,800, with a return of $10,000 (63%).

Paying for House Siding

If cash for the project is readily available, perhaps in a savings account, then paying cash might be an option.

If paying off a credit card balance quickly—ideally before interest can accrue—is possible, using a credit card can also be a savvy solution, especially if using a rewards card.

If planning to use a credit card and then make payments, though, compound interest can really add up.

The Takeaway

Another option to pay for new siding on a home might be a home improvement loan. An unsecured SoFi personal loan, with low rates and no fees, is quick and easy to apply for online.

Using a personal loan for home improvements means there will be a fixed end payment, unlike using the revolving debt of a credit card. And since SoFi home improvement loans are unsecured, the equity in a home isn’t affected.

Considering financing options for a home improvement? Learn more about personal loans from 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. Equal Housing Lender.

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

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Four Ways to Upgrade Your Home

Upgrades to a home can include interior or exterior changes, and both can add interest and value to a home. Exterior home improvements can add to a home’s curb appeal and might include fresh paint, an attractive front door, landscaping, or outdoor lighting. Improvements made to a home’s interior might be as simple as updated lighting fixtures, painting or replacing trim, or installing new curtains.

Exterior Improvements

A home’s front door can serve as the focal point of the exterior. To upgrade its appearance, a homeowner could replace the door, or paint it and add new hardware. Decorating the door with a seasonal wreath or another personalized touch can also add to its charm.

Besides a front door refresh or upgrade, other improvements might be a new mailbox, a new porch light fixture, and perhaps some window boxes with plants and fresh flowers that add a bright contrast to your home’s exterior.

Just like with other home decorating activities, certain styles are trending with front doors. Muted gray hues are popular, as are natural wood stains. For people who’d rather have more color, deep purple and midnight blue doors are in style. Low-maintenance materials such as steel and fiberglass are also trending.

How someone landscapes their front yard can depend upon where they live and the climate there. In general, though, modern trends include:

•   Natural landscaping using native plants, creating landscaping that’s eco-friendly and easy to maintain.
•   Pollinator gardens that attract butterflies, bees, and other insects that help pollinate.
•   Edible gardens, including lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, and more. Creativity is key!

Lovely Lighting

Outdoor lighting doesn’t need to be white—filters can add a range of colors. These lights can spotlight key areas of landscaping, highlight where a family likes to entertain, or look attractive for even more curb appeal while providing illumination.

Size-wise, both tiny and boldly large ones are in vogue and, although lanterns aren’t a new trend, they’re still considered stylish.

After a period of all-white being a hot trend, lighting choices such as table lamps or hanging lighting fixtures are appearing more often as dark neutrals in brown, black or gray. They can be used to update the white or ivory choices in a home.

Paying attention to texture in lighting fixtures can add interest and variety. Materials can range from wood to wicker and rattan, and can be crafted in contemporary shapes to avoid an overly rustic look. Also still trending are geometrically designed lighting fixtures, from simple to more complex shapes.

Painting and Wallpapering

Painting rooms in a home can transform their appearance. For a real punch of color, an option might be a deep magenta with teal and ocher yellow, while a neutral look can be created by the use of warm creams and the colors of stones.

Saturated colors like deep greens can make a space feel cozy and welcoming to some people, while others prefer the warmth of cream or stone colors.

Personal taste matters significantly when picking paint colors.

Wallpaper trends also run the gamut, including those with a texture and colors often inspired by landscapes. In this style of wallpaper, expect to see some blues, greens and neutral shades. Wallpaper made out of natural materials is trending, whether that’s grass or straw, wicker or silk. This can provide a more sustainable choice and can pair well with softer lighting.

Throwback styles can add a touch of nostalgia to walls, with styles including art deco and impressionist. These can offer the illusion that walls are covered with pieces of art.

Wow Factor on Windows

In-style curtains often have hues found in nature, from green to ocher, and can also feature flowers, landscapes and more. Geometric prints or two-tone materials may also appeal to some people. Velvet can be used to create a more intimate space.

Using double or triple curtain rods can be used to add layers of window coverings. Then you can add a layer that filters light and enhances privacy, while also selecting curtains with the appearance you enjoy.

Costs of a House Upgrade

The type of house upgrades listed here might be considered a low-end renovation, which could average between $15,000-$45,000 for a 2,500 square foot home. If, once momentum gets going, the low-end house upgrade turns into a middle-end one, the average cost could range between $46,000-$70,000.

If calculating upgrades by the square foot, figure between $10 and $60 per square foot, depending upon what you’re doing (knowing that the room being renovated can cost up to $150 per square foot).

Another cost-related factor is where the home is located. Pricing in urban areas might be twice as high as in rural areas, depending on the area’s costs of living.

Plus, upgrades in older homes may take more time and attention to complete. If the home is officially considered to be historic, there may be guidelines about what changes can be made.

Financing a House Upgrade

Sometimes, homeowners are able to pay for these upgrades out of pocket. This can be true when the costs are relatively small or when money has been saved for the costs of the renovation. This can be the smart choice when possible: no debt, no interest to pay.

A downside to paying for home upgrades with cash may be that the homeowner empties a savings account or cuts corners on the renovations to avoid needing to borrow funds. Or, if an emergency occurs and the savings account was used to renovate, then high-interest credit cards might need to be used to address the emergency.

Friends or family members may loan the homeowner some money for a house upgrade, and might offer better repayment terms than a financial institution would, whether in the interest or the term. If the homeowner has trouble paying the loan back, the personal relationship with the friend or family member might be damaged. There may also be tax consequences if the loan is considered a gift by the IRS, so it can make sense to consult with a tax professional before moving forward with this plan.

A home equity line of credit (HELOC) might be another option for a house upgrade. This type of loan allows the homeowner to borrow against the equity in the home to pay for renovations. How much is available to borrow will depend upon how much equity is available and the loan-to-value ratio (LTV) that a lender permits.

For example, if a lender has an 80% LTV ratio, that means the institution would:

•   Appraise the home (e.g., $250,000).
•   Calculate 80% of that ($200,000).
•   Subtract current mortgage balances (e.g., $125,000).
•   Consider what’s left over ($200,000-$125,000 = $75,000) to be equity in the home.

The lender would also consider the financial profile of the borrower when reviewing the loan application. HELOCs often have a low initial interest rate and, usually, the homeowner can choose to pay interest only during the draw period. Initial costs can be high and, many times, the rate is variable with high lifetime caps.

Another option might be a home improvement loan, which is an unsecured personal loan and not attached to the home’s equity. Funding can usually be granted more quickly with fewer fees—or, in some cases, no fees.

This may be a good option for people who don’t have enough equity in their homes for their project or who don’t want to use their home as collateral.

The Takeaway

Borrowers who qualify for a low-interest, unsecured personal loan with SoFi can use the funds to renovate their home without needing to put the property up as collateral.

The average time from online approval to funding is seven days, getting money into your pockets more quickly. Because the interest rate is fixed, payments are, too, making it simpler to budget—and there are absolutely no fees.

Interested in a personal loan? Apply for one with SoFi today.



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. 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.

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

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