The Ultimate Home Inspection Checklist

A home inspection can give homebuyers important information about the condition of a home they’re purchasing, and may help alert them to any major repairs and expenses down the road.

When the housing market is competitive, some buyers skip all contingencies, including the home inspection, which can be risky. Others are opting to have an inspection done before making an offer.

In a seller’s market, many properties are sold “as is,” which means sellers won’t negotiate for repairs even after an inspection.

But even so, a home inspection, and a home inspection checklist, could help you avoid buying a home at the top of your budget that will soon need big fixes.

What’s on a House Inspection Checklist?

According to the American Society of Home Inspectors, here are the common items evaluated in a general professional inspection.

The average cost of a home inspector ranges from $300 to $500. However, the inspector might suggest a separate inspection by a specialist if they spot a potential problem but thinks an expert should evaluate it further.

It’s a good idea to make sure you can accommodate these types of costs in your home-buying budget.

Heating and Air System

Depending on your geographical location and the weather there, a finely tuned heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system might be a top priority on your home inspections list.

Does the house you’re considering have an HVAC system? An older property might not, in which case you might want to research and price the purchase and installation of a system.

If the property does have HVAC, does it work and how old is it? If it doesn’t work, or work well, you’ll want to find out what it will cost to repair or replace it.

If the system is practically vintage, the Department of Energy says it might be worthwhile to replace it, as newer models are more efficient and likely to lower your energy costs.

Recommended: What Are the Most Common Home Repair Costs?

Plumbing System

It’s easy to forget about pipes when you’re walking through a home. You can’t see them, but they heavily affect daily life and are not always simple to repair.

Ask your home inspector to check all plumbing work for possible leakage. A leaky pipe can lead to water damage and additional repair work. Once you know if there’s a problem and how significant it is, you can determine the cost of fixing a leaky pipe.

An inspector could also check drainage throughout the home, the condition of the garbage disposal and water heater, and overall water pressure. If the home is older and has a septic tank, that could be inspected, too.

Check out the SoFi guide
to first-time home buying.


Electrical System

A professional home inspection will likely include an evaluation of a property’s entire electric system, ensuring that it is up to safety standards outlined by the National Electrical Code.

The functioning of the electrical box, outlets, switches, and lighting will be checked, as well as the state of the wiring throughout the home. If major work needs to be done you can get a quote for the cost of rewiring.

If the house has solar panels, you might want to make sure they’re in working order and ask for the maintenance history.

Roof

No matter the type of roof, the home inspector will check its condition and age.

A roof in good shape helps ensure against leaks and provides some level of insulation. It’s also important to know if you’re buying a home with a roof at the end of its lifespan, so you can set aside money to replace it when needed.

Replacing a roof can run from about $5,764 to $12,514, HomeAdvisor notes.

Floors, Walls, Ceilings

Put the bones of the house on your house inspection checklist.

Structural components like these will likely be looked at in your home inspection. You’ll want to be sure the floors are level. And consider the floors cosmetically. Is the carpeting new? Are there wooden floors that need refinishing?

Look for cracks in the drywall or plaster that make up the walls and ceiling as well. Sometimes cracks are a natural change as walls expand and contract with weather changes. But it’s good to know if all you’ll need is spackle and paint or if repairs will require a lot more time and money. A home improvement calculator could help you figure out the potential cost.

Foundation, Attic, Basement

A home inspector will crawl through a foundation space, checking for stability and that it is up to national safety codes. This is just one of the reasons why failing to get a home inspection is a homebuyer’s mistake to avoid.

A basement will be checked for dampness and good ventilation for moisture control.

And if the home has an attic, your inspector will check to see that the beams and rafters (which support the roof) look secure and distress-free.

Insulation

Homes generally lose heat through the windows, walls, roof, and attic. Proper sealing and insulation can be a good way to prevent this, lowering energy costs.

If your prospective home is quite old, it’s possible it has no insulation, and you might want to consider the cost of adding it. If the home has been insulated, the home inspector will check its condition and look for gaps.

Exterior

Exterior walls will be evaluated, with an eye toward any damaged bricks, shingles, or siding or bubbling paint. Other important exterior components are chimneys, gutters and downspouts, doors, and windows. You might also want to check for moisture.

If water collects and stands anywhere on the property—because of poorly hung gutters or a leaking sprinkler, for example—you may want to nip it in the bud to avoid mold growth and/or water damage. Check for pests like termites or cockroaches as well.

Appliances

If a refrigerator, stove, and washer and dryer are part of the deal, have your inspector make sure they are in good working order.

If the home comes with few to no appliances, determine how much adding them will cost.

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

Choosing a Home Inspector

If you’re using a real estate agent, chances are your agent can recommend a few home inspectors they’ve worked with previously.

Then again, a home inspector your agent referred may feel obligated to go easy on the inspection.

Whether you’re using a buyer’s agent or not, some consumer advocates say it’s a good idea to find your own inspector.

Other things to put on your house-hunting checklist: Know your credit score, and get prequalified and preapproved for a home loan.

The Takeaway

A home inspection checklist can unearth problems that can be a dealbreaker, possibly a negotiating tool, or something a buyer is willing to accept and deal with. The curb appeal may be great, the staging superb, but house inspection lists offer a probing look at what lies beneath.

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


SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.


*SoFi 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.

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.


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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Pros and Cons of Buying a Townhouse

A townhouse is a multi-story home that’s owned by individuals and is attached to at least one other similar unit. This type of hybrid dwelling combines features of a single-family home with a condominium — having some of the benefits and challenges of each. It’s also sometimes called a townhome or a row home or house.

Differences Between Townhomes and Condos

Differences between a detached home and a townhouse may be clearer than differences between a townhouse and a condo. After all, a home is a freestanding structure while a townhouse, like a condo, is part of a complex.

So, how is a townhouse different from a condo? Well, for one thing, although townhouses would share walls with units that are right next to theirs, there wouldn’t be a dwelling above them or below, as could be the case with a condo.

Typically, people who own a condo are responsible for the interior of their units, while funds that they pay into their homeowners’ association (HOA) are used to maintain shared areas and the outside of the building.

Townhouse owners, though, are usually responsible for maintaining the inside and outside alike, which is more like owning a home.

Because townhouse owners are usually responsible for more maintenance than condo owners, their HOA fees are often smaller and they typically have more freedom on how to renovate their dwellings. Neither of these is universally true, though, so it’s important to check the specifics of the property of interest.

Potential townhouse owners may be asking themselves, “Is buying a townhouse a good investment? What are the pros and cons?”

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of buying a townhouse, along with insights into getting a mortgage loan.

Pros of Buying a Townhouse

Having control over the inside and outside of a townhouse might make it more appealing than the purchase of a condominium. Townhome owners might appreciate how they have more ability to make decisions about their property.
Additional benefits of buying a townhouse include:

More Affordable

A townhouse can be an affordable option in communities with higher home prices, providing a space-savvy housing choice in places where available land can be scarce. Although townhouses may be more expensive than a condominium in a community of choice, they tend to be less expensive than a detached home.

Less Maintenance

Townhouses may be appealing to those that are busy; there’s no big yard that needs time and attention and, if owners travel for work and/or pleasure, security services that may be covered by HOA fees can help to protect the dwelling without any extra steps needed — and the complex may even be gated for added security.

Amenities

There may be great shared spaces and amenities for families to enjoy. These can include gyms and pools, and people who own units each have an ownership interest in these common-area benefits — which means they have a legal right to use them.

You Own the Land

Buyers of a townhouse will actually own the land where the property exists. In contrast, the condo owner would only own their unit, not any of the land. This means that someone owning a townhouse is typically less restricted on how the land could be used, perhaps being allowed to grill dinner outdoors, as just one example.

Pay Less in Property Taxes

Owners of a townhouse usually pay less in property taxes when compared to a stand-alone home. This is typically true because of the smaller lot size.

Townhomes could be ideal for first-time homebuyers who are looking for a more affordable option in densely populated areas. It can also be a good choice for people who aren’t interested in doing much home maintenance.

Cons of Buying a Townhouse

Townhomes may not be ideal for everyone. If you don’t want to share walls with another family, for example, a townhouse may be eliminated.

Other potential downsides of buying a townhouse include:

Limited Lot Size

The limited lot sizes that make it easy to minimize maintenance also means that townhouse owners don’t have the benefits that come with a larger yard, whether that means hosting larger picnics, setting up a swing set for the kids, or creatively landscaping the space.

Less Privacy

Townhouses are less private than single-family homes. While there are no units above or below, as there would be with a condominium, walls are shared and backyards are fairly small. This may be problematic if young children living in the townhouse want to run around and play.

Potentially Many Stairs

Townhouses are built upward to maximize limited land, meaning a townhouse could be three or four stories with only a couple of rooms on each floor. This means stairs. Perhaps lots of stairs. And, if someone in the home has physical challenges or has just had surgery, as just two examples, this can make navigation of the townhouse challenging.

Less Appreciation

In general, the value of a townhouse does not appreciate as quickly as single-family homes. Because of this, it may not make sense to buy a townhouse if the idea is to invest in real estate, rather than simply having a desired place to live.

Recommended: Track the Value of Your Home and Real Estate

After reviewing the pros and cons, is buying a townhouse a good idea? Here’s one more consideration: financing the unit.

Financing a Townhouse

Seeking a mortgage loan for a townhouse is similar to one for a single-family home. That’s because, unlike a condo purchase, the buyer of a townhouse also owns the land beneath the dwelling.

When buying a townhouse, lenders will typically want to see a buyer’s monthly income and outstanding debt to determine their debt-to-income ratio and see how much of a mortgage they can afford.

If the townhouse has HOA fees, those would be included in the mortgage calculations. Just as with a single-family home, it can make sense to get preapproved for a dollar amount before townhouse shopping, save money for a down payment and closing costs, and so forth.

Home Loans at SoFi

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


SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.


*SoFi 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.

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). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


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

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

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.

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8 Steps to Buying a Vacation Home

If you’re like many Americans, you dream of having a beach house, a desert escape, or a mountain hideaway. Perhaps you’re tired of staying at hotels and want the comforts of home at your fingertips.

You’re ready to make this dream a reality. Before you do, consider these steps.

How to Buy a Vacation Home

1. Choose a Home That Fits Your Needs

As you begin your search for a vacation home, carefully consider your goals and needs. Start with the location. Do you prefer an urban or rural area? Lots of property or a townhouse with just a small yard to care for?

Consider what amenities are important to be close to. Where is the nearest grocery store? Is a hospital accessible?

Think about your goals for the property. Is this a place that only you and your family will use? Do you plan to rent it out from time to time? Or maybe you plan to be there only a couple of weeks out of the year, using it as a rental property the rest of the time.

The answers to these questions will have a cascade effect on the other factors you’ll need to consider, from financing to taxes and other costs.

2. Figure Out Financing

Next, consider what kind of mortgage works best for you, if you’re not paying cash. You may want to engage a mortgage broker or direct lender to help with this process.

If you have a primary residence, you may be in the market for a second mortgage. The key question: Are you purchasing a second home or an investment property?

Second home. A second home is one that you, family members, or friends plan to live in for a certain period of time every year and not rent it out. Second-home loans have the same rates as primary residences. The down payment could be as low as 10%, though 20% is typical.

Investment property. If you plan on using your vacation home as investment property to generate rental income, expect a down payment of 25% or 30% and a higher rate for a non-owner-occupied loan. If you need the rental income in order to qualify for the additional home purchase, you may need to identify a renter and have a lease. A lender still may only consider a percentage of the rental income toward your qualifying income.

Some people may choose to tap equity in their primary home to buy the vacation home. One popular option is a cash-out refinance, in which you borrow more than you owe on your primary home and take the extra money as cash.

3. Consider Costs

While you determine the goals you’re hoping to accomplish by acquiring a vacation home, try to avoid home buying mistakes.

A mortgage lender can delineate the down payment, monthly mortgage payment, and closing costs. But remember that there are other costs to consider, including maintenance of the home and landscape, utilities, furnishings, homeowners insurance, property taxes, and travel to and from the home.

If you’re planning on renting out the house, determine frequency and expected rental income. Be prepared to take a financial hit if you are unable to rent the property out as much as you planned. For a full picture of cost, check out our home affordability calculator.

4. Learn About Taxes

Taxes will be an ongoing consideration if you buy a vacation home.

A second home qualifies for mortgage interest deduction and property tax deductions as long as the home is for personal use. And if you rent out the home for 14 or fewer days during the year, you can pocket the rental income tax-free.

If you rent out the home for more than 14 days, you must report all rental income to the IRS. You also can deduct rental expenses.

The mortgage interest deduction is available on total mortgages up to $750,000. If you already have a mortgage equal to that amount on your primary residence, your second home will not qualify.

The bottom line: Tax rules vary greatly, depending on personal or rental use.

5. Research Alternatives

There are a number of options to owning a vacation home. For example, you may consider buying a home with friends or family members, or purchasing a timeshare. But before you pursue an option, carefully weigh the pros and cons.

If you’re considering purchasing a home with other people, beware the potential challenges. Owning a home together requires a lot of compromise and cooperation.

You also must decide what will happen if one party is having trouble paying the mortgage. Are the others willing to cover it?

In addition to second home and investment properties, you may be tempted by timeshares, vacation clubs, fractional ownership, and condo hotels. Be aware that it may be hard to resell these, and the property may not retain its value over time.

6. Make It Easy to Rent

If you do decide to use your vacation home as a rental property, you have to take other people’s concerns and desires into account. Be sure to consider the factors that will make it easy to rent. A home near tourist hot spots, amenities, and a beach or lake may be more desirable.

Consider, too, factors that will make the house less desirable. Is there planned construction nearby that will make it unpleasant to stay at the house?

How far the house is from your main residence takes on increased significance when you’re a rental property owner. Will you have to engage a property manager to maintain the house and address renters’ concerns? Doing so will increase your costs.

7. Pay Attention to Local Rules

Local laws or homeowners association rules may limit who you can rent to and when.

For example, a homeowners association might limit how often you can rent your vacation home, whether renters can have pets, where they can park, and how much noise they can make.

Be aware that these rules can be put in place after you’ve purchased your vacation home.

8. Tap Local Expertise

It’s a good idea to enlist the help of local real estate agents and lenders.

Vacation homes tend to exist in specialized markets, and these experts can help you navigate local taxes, transaction fees, zoning, and rental ordinances. They can also help you determine the best time to buy a house in the area you’re interested in.

Because they are familiar with the local market and comparable properties, they are also likely to be more comfortable with appraisals, especially in low-population areas where there may be fewer houses to compare.

The Takeaway

Buying a vacation home can be a ticket to relaxation or a rough trip. It’s imperative to know the rules governing a second home vs. a rental property, how to finance a vacation house, tax considerations, and more.

Ready to buy? SoFi offers mortgage loans for second homes and investment properties. SoFi also offers a cash-out refinance, all at competitive rates.

Learn how SoFi can help with your vacation home-buying needs.


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.


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.

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

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


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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The Ultimate Guide to Updating Interior Doors: interior doors in need of upgrade

The Ultimate Guide to Updating Interior Doors

Doors can be a portal to another world, or maybe just a great first impression when you walk through a home. But when they don’t look their best, a dated or damaged door can make an entire space feel off.

The doors inside your home come in a wide variety of styles, and can be updated in just as many ways. Some updates can be done on the cheap, while replacing doors entirely will likely come at a higher cost. What follows are key things to know about updating your interior doors, including options and costs.

What Are the Different Types of Interior Doors?

Interior doors come in many styles and price points. Here’s a look at some of the most popular options, plus estimated costs (including materials, labor, and equipment).

•   Traditional Standard doors, such as a bedroom door, swing in or out to open and close. This type of door can be either hollow core, solid composite, or solid wood.
Cost to replace: $50 to $600.

•   Pocket These space-saving doors slide “into” the wall when they’re open. Pocket doors hang from the top and slide along a track mounted in a space inside the wall and across the top of the door opening.
Cost to replace: $140 to $1,000

•   French The door with a certain je ne sais quoi, French doors can be either single or paired, and can have either a full (single) glass pane or a number of divided panes. French doors are often used as exterior doors to porches or patios, but they can also be a great way to let light diffuse inside a home.
Cost to replace: $200 to $4,000

•   Sliding A cousin to the pocket door, sliding doors save space by sliding in tracks at the top and bottom of the door frame. Unlike a pocket door, however, they don’t disappear into the wall. Glass sliding doors are typically used as exterior doors to a patio or deck, but can be used indoors to separate rooms while maintaining visibility between them.
Cost to replace: $400 to $4,500

•   Bifold Also called folding doors or concertina doors, bifolds are made of panels that fold next to each other when opened, sliding on tracks both on top of and below the door. Single bifold doors are sometimes used as doors to smaller closets, and a pair of bifold doors might divide a large room.
Cost to replace: $35 to $70

•   Barn A sliding barn door in the home takes rustic farmhouse trends to the next level. These doors slide on a track mounted on the wall above the door. Barn doors have a low profile, as they do not swing out.
Cost to replace: $150 to $4,000

•   Saloon Head straight to the wild west with these doors. Sometimes called cafe doors, saloon doors hang on a pivot hinge, meaning they can easily swing in and out with a nudge. Because they swing in both directions, they’re commonly used as kitchen doors or in cafes where traffic goes both in and out.
Cost to replace: $100 to $500

•   Murphy You may have encountered a murphy door before without even knowing it. Often custom made, murphy doors are typically bookcases that swing out, turning a door into storage space.
Cost to replace: $700 to $2,500

Recommended: How Do Home Improvement Loans Work?

Signs You May Need New Interior Doors

Interior doors in a home can take quite a beating. They’re slammed, kicked, scuffed, and may have been pounded on a few times. Depending on their quality and age, there’s a chance your doors may simply have seen better days.

If these signs sound familiar, it may be time to buy some new doors for your home:

1.    The door is stuck and has trouble staying open or closed. The more someone struggles to open and close a door that doesn’t budge, the more damage they’ll do. If a door’s always sticking or never manages to stay closed, it may be time to replace it.

2.    The door is warped or cracked. Age will affect the quality of any door, and if the frame or hinges are visibly cracked or peeling, it’s time to think about replacing them.

3.    The door’s style is dated. If your kitchen’s classic saloon-style doors feel decidedly old school — not in a good way — it might be time to consider replacing them. Even if they still work, dated styles can negatively impact a home’s value at the time of sale.

Depending on the style of door and the complexity of the installation, swapping out an interior door can cost anywhere between $150 to $2,000, with an average of $750. A good portion of the cost is professional labor.

While hanging a door might sound simple, doing it wrong can lead to improper closure or a door that just won’t close at all, which leaves you back at the drawing board. It could be worth asking for estimates from a few professional contractors if you decide to replace several interior doors at once.

A door can make an impression — good or bad — when someone enters a room. That first impression might become very important when considering home value. This kind of home improvement project could pay off when you eventually sell your home.

Recommended: Tips for Maintaining the Value of Your Home

DIY Ways to Update Your Interior Doors

Replacing interior doors altogether can be expensive, and is not always necessary. If your door is in good shape, an inexpensive DIY can update your interior doors to look more modern or trendy.

Here are some interior door upgrades you might consider before ditching a door altogether.

•   Swapping out door knobs and hardware Sometimes dated brass or an ornate finish might make a standard swing door feel out of place. For between $75 and $150, you can update a door’s knobs and hinges.

•   Trying a new hue A fresh coat of paint might transform a door’s entire vibe. Instead of a standard white, you might opt for a neutral shade, make a statement with a black door, or choose a rich, deep tone that complements other colors in your home. You can even switch things up by painting the frame and the door different colors. Although you have to remove the door from its frame, this project is DIYable, and can typically be done within a day or two.

•   Updating hollow core doors Hollow core doors are the standard type of door installed in many homes when they’re built. It’s a swing door with a flat surface. These are basic doors that can be a blank slate for your personal taste. For example, you might use molding and beadboard panels to create a paneled look on standard doors. This can make a builder-grade, hollow-core door look custom-made. This DIY project is a small investment for a big payoff.

Recommended: What Are the Most Common Home Repair Costs?

The Takeaway

Doors inside your home don’t just provide privacy, they’re a feature of the property. If your interior doors are in poor shape, replacing and updating them could help increase the value of your home, making the upgrade well worth the upfront outlay of money.

If you don’t have enough cash on hand to cover the cost of upgrading your doors (or any other part of your home), you might consider using a personal loan for financing. This is an unsecured loan that can be used for virtually any purpose, including a home renovation or upgrade. Once approved, you get a lump sum of cash up front you then pay back (plus interest) in monthly installments over time. Rates are typically fixed and lower than credit cards.

Think twice before turning to high-interest credit cards. Consider a SoFi personal loan instead. SoFi offers competitive fixed rates and same-day funding. Checking your rate takes just a minute.

SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2023 winner for Best Online Personal Loan overall.


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


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Driving vs. Shipping Your Car Across the Country

A cross-country move is exciting. You’ll make friends, have new experiences, and dive into a whole new way of life in a new city. But not so fast: You have to get there first. And one of the big decisions you’ll have to make when moving across the country is whether to drive your car yourself or hire a shipping company to move it for you.

There are a lot of considerations to keep in mind when making this decision, from weather to safety to timing. And of course, there are shipping costs to think about. To make the right choice, take the following factors into account.

Driving Distance

Getting your vehicle to your new home could be one of your biggest moving expenses. When deciding whether to drive or ship your car, the first step is to get a sense of how long the drive actually is. Use a mapping app to get a sense of the various routes you could take, the total distance, and a driving time estimate.

Understanding distance can help give you a sense of how much fuel you’d need to make the journey. Consider how many miles per gallon of gas your car usually gets. Divide the total distance by that number, and that can help you create a rough estimate of how much gas you might expect to purchase.

You may also want to factor in the average gas prices in the locations you’ll be driving through. The American Automobile Association (AAA) aggregates the average price for a gallon of gas in each state, and nationally.

Mapping can also give you a sense of what kind of conditions you can expect to be driving in. For the most part, you may expect to take major highways. But will your route take you across mountains or deserts? These regions might be tough on a vehicle, especially if it’s older and prone to overheating, for example.

Recommended: How to Save Money on Gas

Seasonal Considerations

The time of year you plan to move can make a big difference when it comes to driving conditions. Driving in balmy July weather can be very different from driving through wintry conditions in February, especially if your trip takes you across the northern part of the country where there is a chance of snowy or icy conditions.

Take geographical features, like mountains, into consideration as well. For example, there may be snow in mountain passes far earlier than in places closer to sea level. So, though a cross country trip in October may be snow free in most parts of the country, you might encounter wintry conditions as you cross the Rocky Mountains.

If driving through adverse weather does not sound appealing to you, you may consider shipping your car instead.

Recommended: How to Move Across the Country

Timing

Driving from coast to coast at a fairly reasonable clip could take as little as a few days or as long as a week. If you’re driving with someone else, you can switch off drivers and the trip may take less time.

If you’re driving solo, you may take extra time as you make stops to ensure you’re well rested enough to safely continue your journey. If you can’t afford to take the time off to drive your car yourself, shipping may make more sense.

Recommended: 13 Helpful Tips for You to Afford Moving Out

Safety

When you drive across the country, you necessarily put yourself and any passengers at a certain amount of risk. Your car will experience more wear and tear on a long drive, and you face the possibility of breakdowns.

What’s more, you risk the possibility of theft while you’re on the road, whether of your vehicle itself or its contents.

There is also a chance that you could get into an accident while on the road. Shipping your car limits potential damage to your vehicle and shields you from personal safety hazards.

Recommended: 31 Ways to Save Money on Car Maintenance

Cost to Ship a Car

The cost to ship a car across the country will depend on a number of factors, including the size and weight of the vehicle, the distance the vehicle will be shipped, and what kind of insurance you want to buy.

To a certain extent, price may depend on demand, which can fluctuate throughout the year. The more cars are being shipped along a certain route, the pricier it will be. While prices vary, September through November are generally the cheapest months to ship a car.

On average, it costs around $1,108 to ship a car. Again, price depends on the length of trip, but also on whether you choose an open transport or an enclosed transport. A 2,750-mile trip in an open transport costs about $1,210, while covering that same distance in an enclosed transport runs about $1,580.

You may also want to consider the option of shipping your car by train, which may be faster and cheaper than sending it on a truck. You may have to purchase a ticket and ride the same train that your car is on.

When considering shipping as an option, it’s also important to consider other potential costs associated with it. For example, you will have to purchase plane tickets for you and your family. If you drive your own car, you can pack it full of items you want to move with you. When you arrive at your destination, you may need to rent a car until your own vehicle arrives.

Recommended: Ways to Be a Frugal Traveler

Cost to Drive a Car

In many cases, it may be cheaper to drive your car than it is to ship it. According to Move.org, it is, on average, about $180 cheaper to drive a car than to have it shipped, factoring in the costs for food, lodging, and fuel for one person.

The longer the distance, however, generally the closer the two costs come together. Driving a car 1,000 miles versus shipping it over the same distance costs $470 and $980 respectively. Driving a car 2,750 miles versus shipping that same distance, on the other hand, runs $1,220 and $1,210 respectively.

Lodging is one of the greatest expenses you will encounter while you’re on the road. The more nights you spend on the road, the more expensive driving your car yourself will become. You can of course consider less expensive options, like staying in an Airbnb or visiting with friends along the way.

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Making the Decision

As you tackle your moving checklist, the decision to to drive across the country or ship your car will depend on a lot of factors. In some respects it comes down to convenience. Do you have the time to ship your car? Will you need it right away? Do you want to risk driving in poor conditions? In other respects it comes down to cost.

For the most part, driving costs less than shipping. However, the longer the drive, the difference in cost between the two options starts to shrink.

If you decide to ship your car, do your research. Ask friends and family for recommendations and check out company reviews and reports from the Better Business Bureau. Contact multiple shipping companies to make sure you get the best rate.

No matter what you decide, moving is potentially a pricey proposition. If you need a little extra help covering the cost of the move, consider a relocation assistance loan. These loans are personal loans that can cover the cost of shipping your car and other moving related expenses.

Consider funding your move with SoFi.


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.


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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