Different Types of Mortgage Lenders

What Are the Different Types of Mortgage Lenders?

If you’re financing your home purchase, choosing the right lender could streamline the process. But there are many types of mortgage lenders: retail lenders, direct lenders, online lenders, and others.

Although many steps of the mortgage process are consistent across lenders, there are key differences that could affect the all-in cost. To help narrow your search, this guide will cover what mortgage lenders do and explore common mortgage lenders.

Mortgage Lender, Defined

A mortgage lender is a bank, credit union, mortgage company, or individual that grants home loans to borrowers. Mortgage lenders evaluate an applicant’s creditworthiness and ability to repay the loan. Based on the buyer’s qualifications, the lender sets the interest rate and mortgage term.

After closing, the loan may be managed by a mortgage servicer vs. lender. The mortgage servicer is responsible for sending statements, collecting monthly payments, and allocating funds between the loan principal, interest, and escrow account.

It’s possible that financial institutions act as both the mortgage lender and mortgage servicer.

Mortgage Lender vs Mortgage Broker

Both lenders and mortgage brokers can assist with the purchase of a home. But there are key differences to understand when comparing a mortgage broker vs. direct lender.

Mortgage brokers do not originate or approve loans; rather, they help borrowers find a home loan that best fits their financial situation. They often have connections with many lenders and find solutions for less-qualified borrowers. A mortgage broker also helps organize required paperwork and manages communication between the borrower and lender.

A mortgage broker earns a commission for these services from either the borrower or lender after the loan closes. Licensing is required to be a mortgage broker, and the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System & Registry maintains a database of licensed professionals by state. Search for NMLS consumer access.

You can always obtain loan quotes from at least one broker and one direct lender when you shop for a mortgage.

Online Mortgage Lender vs Bank

Borrowers can work with a bank or mortgage lender to fund their home purchase.

Banks can offer mortgages along with other financial products, including checking accounts and commercial loans. A borrower may receive benefits, like a lower rate and closing costs, when applying for a bank mortgage if they’re an existing customer.

As larger financial institutions, banks tend to service their mortgage loans after closing.

On the other hand, banks may have stricter lending requirements than mortgage companies, thanks to federal regulation and compliance. Borrowers may also have fewer loan options to choose from with a bank, as a mortgage lender specializes in mortgage products.

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


Common Mortgage Lender Options

If you’re in the market for a home loan, there are several types of mortgage lenders and terms to become familiar with. Here are the most common.

Direct Lenders

Direct lenders like mortgage lenders, banks, credit unions, and portfolio lenders fund, originate, underwrite, process, and close the loans on their own.

They work directly with buyers and refinancers; there is no broker involved.

Retail Lenders

Banks, credit unions, and mortgage companies can also be categorized as retail lenders. Retail lenders issue mortgages directly to consumers.

Homebuyers may receive more personalized assistance from a mortgage loan originator to find a home loan that fits their situation. But because retail lenders handle loans in-house, they generally only offer their own loan products.

Besides mortgages, retail lenders provide other credit products, including savings accounts, personal loans, and credit cards.

Wholesale Lenders

Wholesale lenders offer home loans through third parties, such as retail lenders or mortgage brokers, instead of directly to consumers.

They fund the mortgage and set the loan terms, while the third party facilitates the application process and communicates with the borrower.

After closing, wholesale lenders typically sell their home loans on the secondary mortgage market.

Portfolio Lenders

A portfolio lender, such as a community bank, uses its own money to originate nonconforming mortgages — those that do not meet Fannie and Freddie standards for purchase, such as jumbo loans.

A portfolio lender has more flexible lending standards than a conventional direct lender because it holds its own home loans in a portfolio.

But portfolio loans may come with higher interest rates and closing costs.

Warehouse Lenders

Warehouse lending provides short-term funding to mortgage lenders to finance a home loan. The mortgage serves as collateral until the lender — often a small or midsize bank — repays the warehouse lender.

With warehouse lending, the mortgage lender is responsible for the loan application and approval process. After closing, the mortgage lender sells the loan on the secondary market and uses the proceeds to repay the wholesale lender. Mortgage lenders profit from this practice through origination fees and mortgage points.

A mortgage financed through a warehouse lender may provide faster funding and more flexibility than a conventional loan. For instance, borrowers could apply for construction financing with warehouse lending.

Online Lenders

With an online lender, the mortgage application process, processing, underwriting, and closing can all be completed virtually. Opting for a digital borrowing experience can get you to the closing table faster.

No overhead means online lenders can offer lower rates and fees.

On the other hand, borrowers may find it more difficult to build a working relationship with a loan officer when completing the process online.

Recommended: Prequalification vs Preapproval: What’s the Difference?

Hard Money Lenders

Hard money lenders — individuals or private companies — offer hard money personal loans based on the value of the property rather than the borrower’s creditworthiness. The property serves as collateral, and borrowers must repay the loan in just a few years.

While hard money lenders can offer faster financing, these loans usually come with higher down payment requirements and interest rates because of their risk. Borrowers may benefit from a hard money lender if they plan to flip a property.

How to Find the Right Mortgage Lender for You

While there’s no shortage of lenders, finding the right mortgage lender takes some shopping around.

When browsing options, it’s useful to consider your financial situation and needs. For instance, can you afford a down payment on your own or with help from a family member or friend?

Is your credit score high enough to buy a house?

Checking the fees and interest rate are important to determine how much you’ll have to pay upfront and over the life of the loan.

Applying to several lenders and/or working with a mortgage broker can let you compare rates and fees to negotiate better terms. Apply to all within a 14-day window to minimize damage to your credit score.

There are first-time homebuyer programs, too. The definition of first-time homebuyer is broader than it seems. It includes anyone who has not owned a principal residence in the past three years.

Recommended: Mortgage Loan Help Center

The Takeaway

There are many types of mortgage lenders to choose from. Your financial situation and goals will help you pick the mortgage lender that offers terms that fit your budget.

Ready to compare home loan options? Check out all the advantages of mortgages from SoFi. One is that qualifying first-time homebuyers can put as little as 3% down.

When you’ve scrolled through the perks, find your rate in a few clicks.

FAQ

What does a mortgage lender do?

A mortgage lender offers home loans to borrowers with the expectation that the loans will be repaid with interest. They set the loan terms, including the interest rate and repayment schedule.

Are mortgage underwriters the same as the lender?

Most lenders manage the underwriting process in-house. Underwriters assess a borrower’s income, assets, and debt to determine whether they are approved for a mortgage.


Photo credit: iStock/luismmolina

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


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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.


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 Mortgages Can Affect Your Credit Score

How Mortgages Can Affect Your Credit Score

Taking out a home mortgage can be one of the biggest financial decisions you make. While some people can, it’s uncommon to pay for a house entirely with cash. Most people put some money as a down payment and then take out a mortgage for the rest of their home’s purchase price. But before you sign on the dotted line, you’ll want to make sure you understand how a mortgage affects your credit score.

The good news is that, as long as you regularly make your mortgage payment on time, having a mortgage can help your credit score. You may see a slight negative impact to your credit when you first apply for a mortgage, since the lender will likely pull your credit report. But after that, your mortgage will generally have a positive impact on your credit score, assuming you’re consistently making on-time payments.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due?

Does Having a Mortgage Help Credit Score?

One of the mortgage basics is that in exchange for an upfront payment (generally used to purchase a home), you’ll make regular monthly payments to your lender for a specified period of time (often 30 years). Having a mortgage on your credit report can help your credit score in two ways. First of all, making your mortgage payments on time each month helps show a positive payment history. Another way that having a mortgage can help your credit is by diversifying your credit mix, which is another factor that makes up your credit score.

How Mortgage Application Impacts Credit Score

The process of applying for a mortgage can impact your credit score in a variety of different ways. Here’s a closer look.

Situations Where It May Hurt Your Credit

When you apply for a mortgage, your lender will usually do a hard pull on your credit report to assess your overall creditworthiness. The number of recent inquiries on your credit report is a negative contributing factor to your credit score, so you’ll want to limit the number you make within a certain window of time. One way to do this is to wait to apply for a mortgage until you are sure you have a sufficient credit score needed to buy a house.

Recommended: What is the Average Credit Card Limit?

Situations Where It May Help Your Credit

It can be smart when applying for a mortgage to work with different lenders to find the right lender for your situation. One piece of good news is that multiple mortgage-related inquiries in a short period of time usually will only count as one inquiry. So if you’re working on establishing credit, you won’t need to worry about multiple inquiries from different mortgage lenders pulling your credit report, as long as they’re all within the same window of time.

Recommended: Apply for a Rewards Credit Card

How a Mortgage Can Affect Your Credit

Beyond applying, there are a number of ways that having a mortgage can affect your credit. When you get a mortgage it can help your credit score, but it can also hurt it.

Hard Inquiry When You Apply

One of the factors that makes up your credit score is the number of recent hard inquiries you have. Any time a potential lender conducts a hard pull of your credit report, it can cause a temporary drop in your credit score by a few points. This drop usually goes away after a few months, but it’s something to be aware of.

Paying Your Mortgage On Time

One of the biggest factors that affects your credit score is your payment history. So if you have a mortgage and regularly pay it each month, that can make a positive contribution to your credit score. This is one reason it’s important to make sure that you don’t take out a mortgage that you’ll have trouble paying each month.

Late Or Missed Mortgage Payments

Because your payment history is such a big part of what makes up your credit score, late or missed mortgage payments can have a large negative impact on your score. Potential lenders look at your credit report to get an idea of how likely you are to repay your debt obligations, so having late or missed payments can be a red flag to future lenders.

Improving Your Credit Mix

A lesser-known but still important part of what makes up for your credit score is your overall credit mix. Generally, it’s considered a positive sign if you have a variety of different types of loans on your credit report. This includes credit cards, auto loans, mortgages, personal loans, etc. Adding a mortgage to a credit report that doesn’t have one helps diversify your credit mix.

Changing Your Average Age of Accounts

Another factor that makes up your credit score is your overall average age of accounts. Potential lenders like to see a lengthy history of you responsibly using the credit that’s been issued to you. So while initially a new mortgage will lower your overall average age of accounts, over time it will work in your favor.

Recommended: Tips to Qualify for a Mortgage

Tips for Building Your Credit Score After Buying a House

After you’ve bought your house, here are a few tips to continue building your credit:

•   Pay your mortgage in full and on time, each and every month.

•   Continue to pay your other debts (like credit cards and student loans) on time each month as well.

•   Keep an emergency fund to ensure you can still meet your debt obligations (including your mortgage) even when the unexpected happens.

•   Make sure you save enough money to pay your home insurance and property taxes (if your mortgage isn’t escrowed).

•   Regularly review your credit report for unexpected or inaccurate information.

•   Increase your credit utilization ratio by raising credit limits and limiting debt.

•   Limit your new credit inquiries as much as possible.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

The Takeaway

Having a mortgage can affect your credit score in a variety of ways, but most of them are positive. While you will likely see a small temporary drop in your credit score due to the hard pull from your mortgage lender, that should go away after a few months. Then, as long as you regularly pay your mortgage on time each month, you should hopefully see a positive impact on your credit score from having a mortgage.

Another great way to build your credit can be by responsibly using a credit card. Many credit cards, like the SoFi Credit Card, also offer cashback rewards for everyday usage. If you’re approved for the SoFi Credit Card, you can earn unlimited cash-back rewards. You can use those rewards as a statement credit, invest them in fractional shares, or put them toward other financial goals you might have, like paying down eligible SoFi debt.

The SoFi Credit Card offers unlimited 2% cash back on all eligible purchases. There are no spending categories or reward caps to worry about.1



Take advantage of this offer by applying for a SoFi credit card today.

FAQ

How long does it take for your credit score to go up after buying a house?

When you get a mortgage (or any type of loan), the potential lender will likely do a hard pull of your credit report. Because the number of recent inquiries you have is a factor that makes up your credit score, this hard pull may temporarily drop your credit score. The good news is that it usually only drops by a couple of points, and even that small effect usually goes away after a couple of months.

How long should I wait after closing to make another big purchase?

You want to be careful about making large purchases or applying for any other credit before you are approved for a loan. This is because your lender and underwriter will be digging into your credit report in detail to make sure your overall financial situation is sound, and they’ll want to know about anything out of the ordinary. After you close on your mortgage, you don’t need to be as careful about making another big purchase, as long as it fits into your overall financial picture.

What credit score is needed to get a mortgage?

There isn’t a specific credit score that’s needed to get a mortgage. Instead, each lender will have its own criteria for approving mortgages. Your overall credit score, your total down payment, and the house itself will all play a role in whether you’re approved, and at what interest rate.


Photo credit: iStock/sturti

1Members earn 2 rewards points for every dollar spent on purchases. No rewards points will be earned with respect to reversed transactions, returned purchases, or other similar transactions. When you elect to redeem rewards points into your SoFi Checking or Savings account, SoFi Money® account, SoFi Active Invest account, SoFi Credit Card account, or SoFi Personal, Private Student, or Student Loan Refinance, your rewards points will redeem at a rate of 1 cent per every point. For more details please visit the Rewards page. Brokerage and Active investing products offered through SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. SoFi Securities LLC is an affiliate of SoFi Bank, N.A.

1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.

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.

The SoFi Credit Card is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A. pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

Members earn 2 rewards points for every dollar spent on purchases. No rewards points will be earned with respect to reversed transactions, returned purchases, or other similar transactions. When you elect to redeem rewards points into your SoFi Checking or Savings account, SoFi Money® account, SoFi Active Invest account, SoFi Credit Card account, or SoFi Personal, Private Student, or Student Loan Refinance, your rewards points will redeem at a rate of 1 cent per every point. For more details, please visit the Rewards page. Brokerage and Active investing products offered through SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA/SIPC. SoFi Securities LLC is an affiliate of SoFi Bank, N.A.

Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

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


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What is a Good Salary to Live In Florida for 2023

What Is a Good Salary to Live On in Florida for 2024?

A good salary — one that allows for necessities, fun, and savings — might start at $60,000 for a single, childless renter in Florida and $75,000 for a similar homeowner.

Why those figures? Using the 50/30/20 budget method, start with what MIT calls a living wage in Florida, which covers basic needs (50% of a salary). Add entertainment, vacations, restaurant meals, more shoes for the collection, and other “wants” (30%). Factor in 20% to be saved.

Even adding one child to a household greatly increases expenses (as if any parent needs to be reminded). A looser definition of a good salary for a working adult with a working partner and a child, based on the MIT Living Wage Calculator, could be $66,500 plus money for discretionary spending.

Of course, your actual cost of living will depend on the city, size of your household, and your spending needs and habits. Read on for a breakdown of what it may take to say you earn a good annual salary in Florida.

Recommended: Should I Sell My House Now or Wait?

Check your score with SoFi

Track your credit score for free. Sign up and get $10.*


Recommended: Free Credit Score Monitoring

Is It Expensive to Live in Florida?

Florida was the fastest-growing state in the U.S. in 2022, the Census Bureau says, and it’s easy to see the draw.

It’s a state with no income tax, moderate property taxes, lots of sunshine, and plenty to do and explore. Corporate and sales taxes are lower than those of most other states.

Despite those perks, it isn’t the cheapest state to live in. Florida had the 32nd lowest cost of living in the U.S. in 2022, according to data gathered by the Missouri Economic Research Information Center (MERIC). That means 31 states had a lower cost of living, with Mississippi the cheapest place to live.

Some cities are as sizzling as the summers. If you’re Miami-bound and plan to rent or buy, for example, that’s when you’ll especially need to check your finances. Realtor.com recently called Miami-Dade the country’s least affordable place in which to live.

Recommended: What is The Difference Between Transunion and Equifax?

What Is the Average Annual Salary in Florida?

Whether a salary can be considered “good” or not in Florida can depend on several factors, including where you choose to live. Proximity to a big city or beach can draw residents who are willing and able to pay more. So can living in an area known for high-end amenities (like shopping, nightlife, and cultural attractions) and luxurious homes.

The median household income in 2021 among Floridians was about $62,000, according to FLHealthCharts.gov. That means, of course, that half of the state’s households bring in more than that, and half bring in less.

That figure compares with the median household income in upscale Collier County (which includes Naples and Marco Island) of $75,543. In Monroe County (Key West), it was $73,153. In Palm Beach County (Palm Beach, Wellington, Boca Raton), it was $68,874. And in St. Johns County (St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra), it was $88,794.

On the other hand, the median household incomes in landlocked and lesser-known Glades and Hendry counties in the south, and Hamilton County on the Georgia border, were $38,088, $38,843, and $39,346, respectively.

So what is a good salary in Florida, if you’re talking about one that goes beyond basic needs and allows for “wants” and savings?

A registered nurse pulls in an average base salary of over $79,000, according to Indeed. That’s a good income for a single person with no children in most parts of Florida as viewed through the 50/30/20 budget lens.

One Floridian with no children needs to net $30,856 to cover necessities like groceries, a modest rental, health care, and transportation, the MIT Living Wage Calculator shows. Doubling that provides room for discretionary spending (30%) and savings (20%).

Recommended: What Is Competitive Pay?

What Can Affect Affordability in Florida?

As you can imagine, one of the biggest factors affecting how far your salary will go in Florida is housing. Housing costs can vary widely, depending on where you decide to settle and on whether you buy a house or condo, but home and rent prices across the entire state have risen sharply over the past couple of years.

The cost of insurance coverage — homeowners, health, and auto — also is generally higher than in many other states. Many home and condo owners also must pay for federal flood insurance, whose cost is on the rise.

Still, owners of primary homes may get a property tax break with the homestead exemption, which decreases the property’s taxable value by as much as $50,000.

That doesn’t mean that everyone who lives in the Sunshine State is living large. The state’s median household income in 2021 (the Census Bureau’s most recent number) was just shy of $62,000 — while the median U.S. household income was closer to $72,000.

And although the state’s minimum wage recently increased from $10 to $11 an hour and will rise to $12 this year, Florida is one of the states impacted most by inflation, according to the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee.

Recommended: Does Net Worth Include Home Equity?

What Are Some Average Annual Expenses in Florida?

How should you expect to divvy up your income if you live in Florida? Here are some costs you may want to plug into a money tracker app:

Housing

Whether you rent or buy a home, a major portion of your paycheck will likely go toward putting a roof over your head (unless as a buyer you pay cash and your home becomes part of what is the biggest percentage of free and clear residences in the country).

A couple of Florida cities appear on this price-to-rent ratio list. The ratios can be useful when considering whether to rent, buy, or invest.

Also useful if you haven’t owned a principal residence in the past three years or you’re a veteran: first-time homebuyer programs in Florida.

If you’re buying …

Though Florida’s red-hot housing market was slowing as 2022 came to a close, prices were still up 5.8% compared with December 2021.

Here’s a look at median sale prices in cities across the state for that same period, according to Redfin.

Cocoa: $325,070

Daytona Beach: $230,000

Marco Island: $1 million

Miami: $515,000

Ocala: $231,250

Orlando: $350,000

Palm Beach: $2.3 million

Stuart: $412,300

Tampa: $375,000

If you’re renting …

Rents are all over the place in Florida, as you can see from the list below. Here are some recent median monthly rents for two-bedroom properties, according to Zillow.

Cocoa: $1,350

Daytona Beach: $1,500

Marco Island: $7,000

Miami: $4,000

Ocala: $1,395

Orlando: $1,850

Palm Beach: $12,500

Stuart: $2,200

Tampa: $2,000

Groceries

The Economic Policy Institute’s 2022 Family Budget Calculator ranked Florida 12th highest for food costs in the U.S.

Here are the monthly costs for some Florida counties, based on a family of four (two adults and two children in a household where most food is purchased at a grocery store and prepared at home), according to the nonprofit think tank.

Brevard County: $847

Collier County: $919

Hamilton County: $740

Hillsborough County: $849

Miami-Dade County: $902

Monroe County: $1,119

Palm Beach County: $924

Washington County: $717

Utilities

Florida ranks 15 in the U.S. for utility costs, according to 2022 data gathered by Statista. Of course, utility costs can vary depending on whether you rely on natural gas or solar, the size and age of your home, your appliances, etc. But here’s what Statista says are the average monthly utility costs in Florida.

Electricity: $124.50

Natural Gas: $62

Water: $45

Phone: $114

Broadband Internet: $60

Gasoline

According to GasBuddy’s interactive gas price map, Florida’s gas prices are about average compared with other states. But again, the cost can vary depending on where you live.

Here are GasBuddy numbers for some Florida counties at the start of 2023.

Brevard County: $3.196 per gallon

Hillsborough County: $3.231

Miami-Dade County: $3.345

Orange County: $3.219

Palm Beach County: $3.374

Sarasota County: $3.205

St. Johns County: $3.235

Walton County: $3.104

Recommended: How to Save Money on Gas

Child Care

The cost of child care can depend on how old your kids are and if you choose an at-home or classroom setting. According to CostofChildCare.org, the average cost per month in Florida is $989 per child for home-based family care, $1,364 for an infant classroom, $790 for a toddler classroom, and $702 for a preschool classroom.

Recommended: Tips for Paying for Child Care as a Student

Which City in Florida Has the Lowest Cost of Living?

According to NewHomeSource, the Florida city with the lowest overall cost of living is Titusville, followed by Winter Haven, Lauderdale Lakes, Daytona Beach, Sanford, Largo, Lakeland, Deltona, Jacksonville, and Pinellas Park.

A few of those, as well as more affluent cities, have a sizable retiree population. Yes, Florida is a senior magnet. (See: Winter Haven.) By 2030, the number of seniors in Florida is expected to top 6 million.

Recommended: Extra Income Sources for Retirees

How Much Money Do You Need to Live Comfortably in Florida?

“Comfort” is a subjective term in any context, and, of course, we all have different wants and needs when it comes to our lifestyle.

If you plan to spend more time outside doing things that are inexpensive or free, you may find it’s easier to embrace financial minimalism by living in the Sunshine State.

If, on the other hand, you long to reside in one of Florida’s bigger cities or near the beach, you may have to ask for a bigger salary than you’d need in a less expensive location. That’s especially true if you’ll be living on a single income.

Either way, it may be useful to consider your priorities and whether your income will cover those costs. Can you be happy without owning a boat or being a member of a golf club? Do you tend to live below your means or overspend? Are annual passes to Disney a must?

The Takeaway

Florida can be an expensive place, mostly because the cost of renting or owning a home has gone up so much. But with a good salary — by one definition at least $60,000 for a single, childless person — and a solid spending plan, you can enjoy the laid-back Florida lifestyle.

With SoFi’s free budget app, you can set up your budget, categorize your spending, and spot upcoming bills in one convenient place. You can also monitor your credit and investments, as well as your home value, and you’ll have access to tools that can help you make important financial decisions now and in the future.

Ready to make a big move? SoFi can help you get on track, and stay on track, no matter where life takes you.

FAQ

What is a livable salary in Florida?

MIT’s Living Wage Calculator says a livable salary for a single person in Florida with no children is about $36,000 before taxes.

What job in Florida pays the most?

Anesthesiologists, cardiologists, and radiologists are the highest earners in the state, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Can you live on $30,000 a year in Florida?

You may find it challenging, especially when it comes to finding a place to live. But if you share a home and other expenses, find affordable health care, and budget carefully, $30,000 a year could be enough to get by on in Florida.


Photo credit: iStock/Pgiam

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*Terms and conditions apply. This offer is only available to new SoFi users without existing SoFi accounts. It is non-transferable. One offer per person. To receive the rewards points offer, you must successfully complete setting up Credit Score Monitoring. Rewards points may only be redeemed towards active SoFi accounts, such as your SoFi Checking or Savings account, subject to program terms that may be found here: SoFi Member Rewards Terms and Conditions. SoFi reserves the right to modify or discontinue this offer at any time without notice.

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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Homeownership and the Race Gap

Examining the Race Gap in Homeownership

Despite the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and other federal laws, a large race gap in homeownership continues to exist across the United States. The Black homeownership rate in the fourth quarter of 2022 stood at 44.9%, compared with 74.5% for non-Hispanic whites, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Black-white race gap in homeownership rates widened as the Federal Reserve attempted to bring inflation under control — going from 29.3 percentage points in the first quarter of 2022 to 29.6 percentage points in Q4. Average mortgage interest rates generally increased in 2022 after the Fed implemented a series of rate hikes.

These racial disparities are not new. Historical records confirm a large race gap in homeownership rates has existed since the abolition of slavery. Below we further examine the race gap in homeownership and identify possible solutions.

History of Racial Housing Disparities

The United States has a long history of systemic racism that presents itself in a number of ways, including housing disparities. In January 2022, the National Community Reinvestment Coalition released its home mortgage report examining racial disparities in homeownership from 1900 to 2020.

The NCRC found the gap in homeownership rates between Black and white families reached its lowest level of 23 percentage points in 1980 and its highest level of 30 percentage points in 2015.

In the fourth quarter of 2021, the Black-white race gap in homeownership rates exceeded 31 percentage points. This gap narrowed to 29.6 percentage points in the fourth quarter of 2022, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The homeownership rate as of Q4 2022 stood at 74.5% for non-Hispanic white households; 61.9% for Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander families; 48.5% for Hispanic families of any race; and 44.9% among Black households, according to the Census data.

A number of factors have contributed to the race gap in homeownership, including the legacy of race-based discrimination in the housing market.

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


Lasting Effects of Redlining

Redlining, the discriminatory practice of denying home loans and other credit services to ethnically diverse neighborhoods based on the race, color, or national origin of the residents of those neighborhoods, is one of the factors explaining America’s long-standing race gap in homeownership.

The federal government institutionalized redlining in the 1930s when a now-defunct federal agency, the Home Owners’ Loan Corp., created “residential security maps” in dozens of cities across the country to systematically deny mortgages in neighborhoods of color.

HOLC ceased to exist in 1951, and Congress later outlawed redlining with the Fair Housing Act of 1968, but lending discrimination in the housing market has persisted.

An article published in the journal SSM-Population Health in June 2021 found that “redlining has continued to influence racialized perceptions of neighborhood value and practices that have perpetuated racial inequities in lending.”

“Decades of racism in the housing market,” the article adds, “have prevented people of color, particularly Black Americans, equal access to capital, low-cost loans, and homeownership.”

The Department of Justice continues to enforce the Fair Housing Act to address ongoing allegations of modern-day redlining.

Current Black Homeownership Gap

As mentioned, the current race gap in homeownership rates between Black and white families is 29.6 percentage points as of Q4 2022. The vast majority of white families own residential property, while the majority of Black families do not, data shows.

Homeownership is often regarded as the American dream, but not everyone who wants to buy a house is able to get financing. The overall denial rate for home-purchase loans among all applicants in 2021 stood at 8.3%, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Bureau data shows that 15.3% of Black applicants had their mortgage loan requests denied in 2021, compared with 6.3% of non-Hispanic white applicants.

This first-time homebuyer guide recommends downloading your credit reports before submitting any applications for home loans. Creditworthy applicants who have home loan applications denied may be victims of discrimination. You can get free credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com and can check your credit scores in several ways.

Homeownership by Race

The below table highlights homeownership data by race as of Q4 2022

Race Homeownership rate
Non-Hispanic white alone 74.5%
Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander 61.9%
Hispanic (of any race) 48.5%
Black alone 44.9%
Other (including mixed races) 58.7%
All (nationwide population) 65.9%

Homeownership Race Gap 1940-2020

Fixing the Black Homeownership Gap

The Urban Institute, a nonprofit research organization, has a five-point framework aimed at reducing the Black homeownership gap. Here are the five points:

1. Advance Local Policy Solutions

Local policy reforms, including the removal of any discriminatory terms in homeowner and condominium associations and possible property tax relief for low-income and moderate-income taxpayers, can help reduce the Black homeownership gap.

Expanding small-dollar mortgages could also make a difference.

2. Tackle Housing Supply Constraints and Affordability

Promoting affordable housing nationwide, including new investments in historically segregated and devalued neighborhoods, may help reduce the Black homeownership gap.

Public policy leaders could also review the viability of lease-to-own programs as a pathway to homeownership.

3. Promote an Equitable and Accessible Housing Finance System

Greater access to down payment assistance programs for economically disadvantaged consumers may reduce the Black homeownership gap.

This online mortgage calculator shows how home loan seekers can lower their monthly mortgage payments and total interest charges by making a larger down payment on a home.

Recommended: Do You Still Need to Put a 20% Down Payment On a House?

4. Accelerate Outreach for Mortgage-Ready Millennials

Reaching out to mortgage-ready millennials and improving tax credit incentives for renters to become homeowners may help reduce the Black homeownership gap.

Public-private partnerships can scale up additional programs aimed at bolstering homeownership among low-income people.

5. Focus on Sustainable Homeownership and Preservation

Funded programs that prevent foreclosures in the United States may particularly help Black homeowners maintain their wealth.

Providing homeowners of color with financial literacy may also help preserve homeownership among Black families.

The Takeaway

Racial housing disparities persist, despite federal laws designed to equal the playing field. The effects of redlining echo today, when 74.5% of white families own residential property and just 44.9% of Black families do. Solving this social inequity may require significant action and reform. See how employers can help first-time homebuyers.

If you’re looking for a mortgage lender, SoFi can help you achieve the American dream. Qualified first-time homebuyers can put as little as 3% down.

Explore SoFi fixed-rate mortgage options and view your rate in minutes.


Photo credit: iStock/Morsa Images

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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.

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.

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Staircase Remodel Cost & Ideas

Staircase Remodel Cost & Ideas

Does staring at your outdated stairs make you want to climb the walls? You may be considering a staircase remodel or replacement.

A light staircase remodel could cost less than $1,000, while a total makeover could cost $10,000.

The most involved of stair makeover ideas, removing a staircase and replacing it with a new one, may cost $10,000 or more.

How Do You Remodel Stairs?

That’s the million-dollar question, really (and no, that’s not a budget estimate). Staircases are the sum of their parts, and each part is an opportunity to increase visual appeal, the value of your home, and your home equity.

Staircases are more than just a means to move from one level of a detached house or townhouse to another. They can be a major decorative element in a home.

Your staircase remodel may be fairly minor but pack a punch: painting the vertical spindles, restaining treads or risers, and adding a bold carpet runner.

Replacing the handrails and spindles, or otherwise changing the bones of the staircase, may require finding a contractor.

That’s especially the case if you want your staircase to meet current building codes (important for safety and when you’re selling the house).

Understanding the project scope from the outset can help ensure that the staircase remodeling cost makes sense.

Recommended: Home Renovation Cost Calculator

Staircase Elements and Materials

Being familiar with basic staircase anatomy can help you refine project goals and have productive conversations if estimates for the job are required.

The focus here will be on interior stairs.

Treads

The stair tread is the part of the stairway that is stepped on. Treads are often made of wood, although they may have another layer on top, such as tile or carpet.

Risers

Stair risers are the vertical pieces that connect the treads: the piece of the staircase in front of your toes as you’re walking up. Risers might be made of wood or an engineered wood product.

Spindles, aka Balusters

Spindles, or balusters, provide vertical support for the stair railing. Traditional staircases might have wooden spindles, while a more modern stairway might have metal balusters.

Handrails

Also called a banister, this part is simply the rail where you put your hands. Wood, composite, and metal are all standard, although there is room for creativity.

Newel Posts and Caps

The heftier vertical posts that go in line with the spindles and create endings to the railing are the newel posts, and the cap is the decorative element that tops the newel.

Handrails start and end at the newel posts. Materials mirror those of the spindles.

Guardrails

At open spaces on stairs or landings, guardrails must be installed.

Landing

A landing is a horizontal platform that begins or ends a staircase or serves as a transition between changes in stair direction.

Recommended: Average Cost to Remodel a House

Estimating the Project Scope and Cost

Familiarity with the elements of a staircase is helpful when deciding on the design and organization of the staircase remodel, even if it’s going to be done piecemeal, like refinishing the stair treads now and replacing the spindles and handrail later.

If you’re plotting your stair remodel, you have company. There are several reasons that home renovations are on the rise. The work-from-home trend is one.

Your home should be a comfy haven, but it will also likely turn out to be an investment that can help build generational wealth in your family.

Among these stair makeover ideas, minor ones can be done yourself. Others will require a licensed professional and a loan, such as a personal loan, unless you’re paying cash.

Painting the Stairs

Using paint made to withstand wear and tear is essential for the paint job to last. Look for floor, deck, or heavy-duty paint. Water-based, not oil-based, paints will prevent discoloration, especially on light colors.

Painting stairs requires proper preparation (cleaning and sanding), protecting neighboring surfaces, and possibly priming so the paint will adhere correctly.

Count on an average of $600 to paint all the corners, handrails, and balusters, plus $350 to $450 to paint the stairwell.

If this is a DIY job, a gallon of latex paint will average $20 to $50. Polyurethane to help protect the new paint finish might start at $50 per gallon. Sandpaper, paint rollers or brushes, tape, and drop cloths could add up to $70.

Stairs and age are often not a great pairing. As more people consider an accessory dwelling unit for an aging parent, that might mean an adult child moving into the two-story family home.

A new paint job, perhaps using light and dark colors on different parts of the staircase, will go a long way toward making it more inviting. Painting just the risers a bold hue can add interest, and some people even create a painted runner for their staircase remodel.

Refinishing Stairs

Refinishing stairs is a much more daunting task than painting. This involves stripping the current finish with solvents and sanding, which is easier to do on flat stair treads than turned spindles or vertical risers.

You’ll want to check for lead paint before you start stripping the paint.

You’ll need paint stripper ($50 per gallon and up), a premium heat gun (as low as $30), a power sander and sandpaper ($30 to $100), heavy-duty rubber gloves and a respirator mask ($45), and a scraper (as low as $8) to strip the original finish. Oh, and lots of time and patience.

If you’re getting bids to refinish hardwood stairs, the width and length of every step, along with the rise of each, will factor in. The price to refinish hardwood stairs and railings ranges from $4.50 to $8 per square foot for materials and labor.

Recommended: How Much Is My House Worth?

Replacing Staircase Components

Swapping elements like spindles, newels, caps, and handrails for a different style can dramatically change the overall look of a staircase.

If the staircase has historic elements, getting spindles or other pieces to match other elements in the home might require custom work if replacements can’t be found through architectural reuse or salvage sources.

Replacing carpet-covered treads with wood treads can rectify an outdated look, but realize that you may have to contend with lots of nails and staples under the carpet. Crowbar needed, stat. A contractor might charge $75 to $300 to remove the carpet.

The balusters will have to be replaced if you’re replacing the treads.

Here are some average replacement and installation costs, according to HomeAdvisor:

•   Handrail: $340 to $580

•   Newel post: $35 to $550

•   Balusters: $1,200 to $1,600

•   Treads and risers: $1,800 to $2,500

•   Carpet runner: $500 to $2,000

Expect to pay from $70 to $150 per hour on labor, and factor in any necessary permits, HomeAdvisor says.

Another source puts the cost of replacing the treads and risers at $3,000 to $4,000, including the work of master carpenters. Yes, you’ll see a range of estimates out there. If you’re getting bids, a lot depends on where you live, your choice of materials, and the size of the project.

Total Replacement

Completely replacing a staircase is logistically and financially complex, but a millennial homebuyer, for example, might want floating stairs with open risers rather than a chunkier look.

Consulting a building or remodeling professional, such as a licensed construction engineer or residential architect, about safety and fire codes and potential structural implications for the home is a good step to take.

The cost to install a main staircase averages $2,000 to $5,000, according to Fixr. But the site gives a range of $15,000 to $100,000 to put in a floating staircase, so only bids will narrow the true cost of your staircase install.

Competent staircase installers may cost as much as the staircase itself.

Recommended: Common Uses for Personal Loans

The Takeaway

Stair makeover ideas include the fairly simple and the wow-worthy, and the cost of a staircase remodel ranges from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands. Installing a new staircase will typically require several professionals.

If a staircase remodel or new staircase install is on your mind, one way to get quick cash is with a personal loan. SoFi offers fixed-rate personal loans of $5,000 to $100,000 with no fees and no collateral needed.

SoFi offers unsecured, fixed-rate personal loans that offer lower interest rates than you’ll typically find with credit cards. Checking your rate takes just 1 minute.

Fund your home improvement wish list with a SoFi Personal Loan.

FAQ

How much does it cost to redesign a staircase?

An architect and contractor may be required to structurally redesign a staircase. A staircase remodel, if done by the homeowner, could cost less than $1,000.

How do I modernize my stairs?

Consider changing out dated handrails. Paint can take years off.

Add a punch to the risers with eye-catching paint, tile, or even wallpaper. Consider a bold-colored or -patterned stair runner that allows the stair treads to be exposed at the edges.

A dramatic light fixture at the top of the stairway will offer both illumination and arty interest. And stair cladding — covering the treads and risers with wooden floor planks — will create a big transformation.

How do you renovate stairs on a budget?

Making less expensive changes, like adding a coat of fresh paint, replacing spindles, or adding a runner, can completely change the feel of a staircase — and the living space that surrounds it, making a house feel like a home.


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.

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