Historical 30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage Trends

Historical 30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage Trends

Historically speaking, mortgage rates have remained relatively low since the Great Recession, with some fluctuation at times due to market conditions. As a result, a generation of homebuyers has become accustomed to a low 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.

But with mortgage rates on the rise, it can put a sour taste in the mouths of people trying to join the ranks of homeowners in the country. They may be thinking that they missed an opportunity to buy a home. However, it’s important to look at the history of mortgages and mortgage rates to put the current conditions into context.

The History of Mortgage Rates

The modern history of mortgage lending in the U.S. began in the 1930s with the creation of the Federal Housing Administration. From the 1930s through the 1960s, a combination of government policy and demographic changes made owning a home a normal part of American life. During this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage became the standard for home buying.

When discussing the fluctuation of mortgage rate trends, analysts usually refer to the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. Here’s a look at the trend of these mortgage rates since the 1970s.

The 1970s

Throughout the 1970s, mortgage rates rose steadily, moving from the 7% range into the 13% range. This uptick in rates was due, in part, to the Arab oil embargo, which significantly reduced the oil supply and sent the U.S. into a recession with high inflation — known as stagflation.

As a result, Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker made a bold change in monetary policy by the end of the decade, raising the federal funds rate to combat inflation. Though the Federal Reserve doesn’t directly set mortgage rates, its monetary policy decisions can still impact many financial products, including mortgages.

The 1980s

The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit an all-time high in October 1981 when the rates hit 18.63%. The Federal Reserve’s tight monetary policy affected this high borrowing cost and put the economy into a recession. However, inflation was under control by the end of the 1980s, and the economy recovered; mortgage rates moved down to around 10%.

The 1990s and 2000s

Mortgage rates continued a downward trend throughout the 1990s, ending the decade at around 8%. At the same time, the homeownership rate in the U.S. increased, rising from 63.9% in 1994 to 67.1% in early 2000.

Several factors led to a housing crash in the latter part of the 2000s, including a rise in subprime mortgages and risky mortgage-backed securities.

The housing crash led to the Great Recession. To boost the economy, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates to make borrowing money cheaper. Mortgage rates dropped from just below 7% in 2007 to below 5% in 2009.

Recommended: ​​US Recession History: Reviewing Past Market Contractions

The 2010s

Mortgage rates steadily decreased throughout most of the 2010s, staying below 5% for the most part. The Federal Reserve enacted a zero-interest-rate policy and a quantitative easing program to prop up the economy during this time following the Great Recession. This helped keep mortgage rates historically low.

The 2020s

The Federal Reserve reduced the federal funds rate to near-zero levels in March 2020, causing a drop in rates of various financial products. The effects of the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic pushed mortgage rates below previous historic lows. The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit 2.77% in August 2021.

However, with inflation reaching levels not experienced since the early 1980s, the Federal Reserve reversed course. The central bank started to tighten monetary policy in late 2021 and early 2022, which led to a rapid increase in mortgage rates. In May 2022, the average mortgage rate was above 5%. While this is below historical trends, it’s the highest rate since 2018.

Recommended: How Rising Inflation Affects Mortgage Interest Rates

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

Why Do Mortgage Rates Change?

As we can see from looking at interest rate fluctuations, major economic events can significantly impact mortgage rates both in the short and long term. As noted above, this has to do primarily with the Federal Reserve.

Federal Reserve actions influence nearly all interest rates, including mortgages through the prime rate, long-term treasury yields, and mortgage-backed securities. The Federal Reserve sets the federal funds benchmark rate, the overnight rate at which banks lend money to each other.

Recommended: Federal Reserve Interest Rates, Explained

This rate impacts the prime rate, which is the rate banks use to lend money to borrowers with good credit. Most adjustable short-term rate loans and mortgages use the prime rate to set the base interest rates they can offer to borrowers. So, after the Federal Reserve raises or lowers rates, adjustable short-term mortgage loan rates are likely to follow suit.

Longer-term mortgage rates have also risen and fallen alongside economic and political events with movement in long-term treasury bond yields. In the short term, a Federal Reserve interest rate change can affect mortgage markets as money moves between stocks and bonds, affecting mortgage rates. Longer-term mortgage rates are influenced by Fed rate changes but don’t have as direct an effect as short-term rates.

Can Changing Rates Affect Your Existing Mortgage?

If you have a mortgage with a variable interest rate, known as an adjustable-rate mortgage, changing rates can affect your loan payments. With this type of home loan, you may have started with an interest rate lower than many fixed-rate mortgages. That introductory rate is often locked in for an initial period of several months or years.

After that, your interest rate is subject to change — how high and how often depends on the terms of your loan and interest rate fluctuations. These changes are generally tied to the movement of interest rates, but more specifically, which index your adjustable-rate mortgage is linked to, which can be affected by the Fed’s actions.

However, most adjustable-rate mortgages have annual and lifetime rate caps limiting how high your interest rate and payments can change.

If you took out a fixed-rate mortgage, your initial interest rate is locked in for the entire time you have the home loan, even if it takes you 30 years to pay it off.

Recommended: What Is a Good Mortgage Rate?

The Takeaway

If you are in the market to buy a home, it might be tempting to rush and buy while rates are low and on the rise. Or, you may put off buying a home until rates decrease in the future. However, you never want to time the market. As mentioned above, mortgage rates are near historic lows and are constantly fluctuating, so choosing the perfect time to buy a home based on the ideal rate can be difficult.

Additionally, there are many factors to consider when buying a home beyond the mortgage rate. It’s important to understand all aspects of your finances, personal situations, and housing market trends before buying a home.

If you think you’re ready to buy a home, SoFi can help. With SoFi Mortgage Loans, you can find a competitive rate even in a rising rate environment. Turn your dream home into a reality with flexible terms, competitive mortgage rates, and down payments as little as 3% for qualified first-time homebuyers.

If you’re interested in taking out a mortgage, check out SoFi Mortgage Loans today.

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.

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


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What to Know Before Renting out a Room in Your House

What to Know Before Renting out a Room in Your House

Renting out a room in your house isn’t something to be done on a whim. From legal and financial considerations to aesthetics, there are lots of things to think about before offering the space to a potential housemate.

Here are some things to consider before renting out a room in your house.

What Are Some Room Rental Options?

Renting out a room in your house doesn’t have to mean having one long-term renter, although that’s certainly one way to go.

Short-term Rental

One option homeowners might consider is short-term rentals, such as Airbnb or Vrbo. This could be a good option if you live in an in-demand tourist area or have a home in an out-of-the-way locale that might attract someone looking for a place to relax and unwind. Some travelers prefer to stay somewhere that feels more like a home than a hotel.

Recommended: 25 Things to Know When Renting Out an Airbnb

Long-term Rental

Having a housemate who is planning to rent a room in your home for an extended period of time can be one way to have a steady income for that time period. It’s a good idea to have a formal rental agreement that clearly outlines expectations of both parties.

Furnished or Unfurnished Rental

Whether to offer a furnished or unfurnished space will probably be determined by the type of renter you’re looking for. If you live in a college town, prospective renters might not have any furnishings of their own, so will likely be looking for a furnished rental. As with a short-term rental mentioned above, a furnished rental will probably be a given. A potential long-term housemate, though, may have their own furnishings to bring to the space.

What Financial Considerations Are There?

For some people, the sole reason for renting a room in their house is to have some extra income. With income, though, come expenses.

Return on Investment

It’s not likely that a spare room is ready for a renter without some updating and perhaps even some repairs. Keeping a record of how much money you spend preparing the space will help you determine if you’re coming out ahead financially. It may take some time to recoup the money you spend before you make a profit. And it’s a good idea to have a record of any ongoing expenses you incur to make sure you’re charging enough rent to offset those.

Recommended: What Is Considered a Good Return on Investment?


In most cases, there will be income tax implications, so it’s wise to treat renting a room in your house as a business of sorts. As such, it’s a good idea to consult a tax professional who can answer detailed questions about rental income.

The IRS considers rental of part of your property, such as a spare room, as taxable income. And, like some business expenses, there are expenses related to this type of rental that are tax deductible. Any deductions claimed must be directly related to the portion of the home that is used for rental purposes and is generally calculated as a percentage of the home’s total square footage.

Recommended: 25 Tax Deductions for Freelancers

Are There any Legal Considerations?

It’s wise to look at your state’s landlord-tenant laws as a first step. Some states are more landlord friendly, while other states have a wide range of protections for tenants, putting more limitations on landlords’ rights.

Even if you’re just renting out a room to an acquaintance, you’ll likely still be considered a landlord and must adhere to regulations that apply to your situation. The Fair Housing Act protects potential tenants from discrimination except in limited circumstances. Shared housing is one of those circumstances because the government concluded that sharing one’s personal space has “significant privacy and safety considerations” in a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling.

Neighborhood Restrictions

Aside from governmental legal considerations, it’s a good idea to check your apartment lease or your neighborhood or homeowner’s association, if you have one, as some homeowner’s associations may have regulations about leasing all or part of your home. If you’re renting a home or apartment, your lease may specify whether you’re allowed to sublease or if you’re restricted from doing so.

Your homeowner’s insurance policy may also include a clause related to leasing part of your home. Some companies may allow you to rent a room in your home without any change to your policy, while others may disallow it completely. There’s a chance you may see an increase in your premium, as well. To be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to let your insurance agent know of any change in your home’s occupancy.

Recommended: Condo vs Townhouse

Screening Tenants

Finding the right person to share your personal space may take some time. You likely have certain things you’re looking for in a potential renter along with other things that might be deal-breakers. Maybe you’re looking for a non-smoker who has a solid rental history. A rental application is one tool that can help you find a housemate that fits the bill.

You may want to run a credit check and a background check on any applicants who are truly interested in renting a room in your house. These checks generally have fees associated with them, and it’s a good idea to specify in the rental application who will be responsible for paying for credit and/or background check.

The applicant’s permission is required to run either of these checks and they are entitled to know if the results of either a credit or background check resulted in the denial of their rental application. It’s important to make sure you’re complying with fair housing laws when screening potential tenants and aren’t discriminating against certain applicants.

Rental Agreement

Having a formal, written lease in place will go a long way in protecting both you and your renter. A thorough agreement might include:

•   The leasing period — it’s typical for a lease to be for one year, but if you’re renting a room to college students, you may consider a shorter lease for the duration of the school year. This section might specifically note the move-in and move-out dates.

•   Rent amount — including the due date, how you would like to collect it, and any late fees you might charge.

•   Security deposit — the amount and conditions for returning or withholding it at the end of the lease.

•   Utility costs — are they included in the monthly rent or will the renter be responsible for paying their share of the total bills?

•   Shared spaces — expectations around common areas like the kitchen, living room, and bathroom.

•   Pets — are they allowed or not, as well as policies about pet messes and noise.

•   Cleaning and maintenance — will the renter be responsible for regular house cleaning, including private and common areas, and home maintenance, inside or out?

•   Parking — if there is a parking space available, is it included in the rent or is it a separate charge?

Covering a wide variety of things in a rental agreement can go a long way in avoiding misunderstanding and miscommunication between you and your tenant. Having an attorney review the agreement is a good way to make sure you’re not missing important elements. Lease agreements are legally binding contracts when signed by both parties.

It’s also a good idea to do a walk-through of the room with the tenant before signing the lease and again before they move out. Any damage can be documented (e.g., carpet stains, scratches on woodwork, torn window screen, among other things) so it’s clear that the tenant isn’t responsible for that damage. A final walk-through can be done before the tenant moves out, during which any additional damage can be documented and accounted for.

What Are the Costs of Renting a Room in Your House?

You may encounter costs preparing a room to be rented as well as ongoing expenses related to having another person living in the home.

Preparing the Room for Rental

Safety for you and your tenant are important concerns. You may want to make sure doors and window locks are in good working order. Your tenant will likely want their room to be private, so a keyed lock on their door can go a long way to easing any concerns they might have about living in someone else’s home. Providing a combination safe for the tenant’s valuables might be a nice gesture.

Installing locks on doors to any areas you don’t want your tenant to have access to is another layer of safety you may want to consider.

Fixing loose railings, sticking doors or windows, flooring trip hazards, and doing other home maintenance that could become safety issues is important in making your home and the individual room an attractive rental prospect for tenants.

You may want to make some cosmetic changes, too.

•   Painting the walls a neutral color may allow a prospective tenant to imagine their belongings in the room, instead of bright colors that might be a distraction to them. Using an easy-to-clean paint finish, like satin instead of flat, may also save you some effort after your tenant moves out.

•   If the room is carpeted, you might consider having the carpet cleaned, either professionally or using your own carpet cleaner. If the room is furnished with upholstered furniture, it can also be cleaned. Doing so will help the room look and smell fresh.

•   If you’re renting a furnished room, make sure the furnishings are clean and in good condition. Even used furniture can be presentable.

•   If the tenant will have a private bathroom space, the fixtures should be as modern as possible, but more importantly, clean and working. If the faucet drips, if the bathtub leaks, if the toilet runs — make the repairs before renting the room.

•   Is the bathroom a shared space? You might consider adding some baskets or other types of storage for the tenant’s personal hygiene products. Making a cabinet available for their own use would be nice if there is space to do so.

•   Cleaning, decluttering, and updating other shared spaces such as the living room and kitchen can make your home look more inviting, possibly increasing your chances of finding a renter.

•   You might consider adding some storage space for a tenant’s use. It could be as simple as a stand-alone cabinet or a designated area in a basement or garage. The rental agreement could specify what isn’t allowed to be stored (e.g., no hazardous chemicals) and how much storage space is allotted. A prospective tenant might feel more comfortable storing belongings if the space is able to be secured.

Increased Utility Costs

An extra person living in the house will likely increase utility usage. Costs for gas, electric, water, sewer, and other utilities will probably be more than you typically pay without an extra person in the house. You may want to calculate your average utility costs over the past year to have an idea what an extra person’s use might add to those costs.

Some landlords include the cost of utilities in the cost of rent, while others might require the tenant to cover a percentage of each monthly utility bill. When renting out a room in your house, it may not be convenient to have separate utility connections for a renter.

Covering the Cost of Making Your Room Rental Ready

Depending on how much work needs to be done, getting a room in your house ready for someone to rent could be a few hundred dollars or a few thousand dollars. You may be able to keep costs down by doing some of the work yourself, but you might need to hire a professional contractor for some tasks you don’t have the skills to tackle or don’t feel comfortable doing on your own. It can help to think of this as an investment with a potential for a return in the form of rental income.

Taking some time to save money for the expense of getting a room in your house rental ready can be a smart choice. It can at least be one way to pay for some basic tasks, while considering other funding sources for more expensive repairs.

If you don’t have cash on hand, you could put all these expenses on one or more credit cards. But because credit cards carry such high interest rates, you might want to avoid racking up a credit card bill you can’t pay down any time soon.

Homeowners who have equity in their homes might consider taking out a home equity loan or home equity line of credit. These secured loans use your house as collateral. The application process can be lengthy and typically require an appraisal of your home. Also, you risk losing your home if you don’t repay the loan.

Another option is to apply for a personal loan. Personal loans are typically unsecured loans, which means you don’t have to put up any collateral to qualify for them. Many personal loans also have fixed interest rates.

The Takeaway

From your personal comfort level for sharing your space with someone to financial and legal considerations, there are lots of things to consider before deciding to rent out a room in your house. You may need to complete some repairs to make the space safe for a tenant, and there may be some decor updating necessary to interest potential renters.

Using a SoFi Personal Loan to update a room in your house to rent out can be one way to fund the task list. Personal loans from SoFi have competitive, fixed interest rates and a variety of terms to fit different budgets. Since a personal loan is an installment loan with a payment end date, unlike the revolving nature of a credit card, you’ll know how long it will take to pay down the debt.

Fixing up a room in your house to rent out? A SoFi Personal Loan might be the right financial tool for you.

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.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.


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How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?

How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?

It may not be required by law or your lender, but if you’re purchasing a home, you’ll likely want to consider getting a professional home inspection, which can cost a few hundred dollars.

You may even choose to make your contract contingent on the results.

A basic home inspection typically ranges from $300 to $500, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and it’s almost always the buyer’s cost to cover.

Here’s what you can expect to get for your money.

What Do Home Inspectors Do?

In the recent frenzied real estate market, which has included sight unseen home buying, some buyers have taken the risk of waiving the home inspection.

But certified home inspectors are trained to find the problems you might not see when you walk through a home that’s for sale (even if you’ve seen the property multiple times).

Many states require inspectors to be licensed, and there are several professional organizations that require their members to follow certain standards of practice. Two of the largest national organizations for certified inspectors are the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) and the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), but there are also many state associations.

The goal of a professional inspection is to help you avoid being surprised by structural defects, plumbing and electrical issues, or other significant problems with a home you plan to buy. Here are just a few of the things on a home inspection checklist that an inspector will look at.

Roof Condition

Inspectors aren’t required to stand on a roof to inspect its condition, but they will review the materials used to cover the roof; the gutters and downspouts; any vents, flashing, skylights, etc.; and the general structure of the roof. And they’ll report any evidence of active leaks.


This part of the inspection will generally include the exterior walls; the eaves, soffits, and fascia; windows and doors (including garage doors); walkways and driveways; stairs, steps, and ramps; porches, patios, decks, and the like; railings; and any issues that could cause problems with water intrusion.

Structural Soundness

This typically includes looking for cracks or other problems with the home’s foundation, the basement or crawlspace, and other structural components.

Heating and Cooling

The inspector will report on the types of systems used to heat and cool the home and if they are in working order.


This may include checking the main water supply shut-off valve and water heater; running the faucets and flushing all toilets; and reporting drainage problems for sinks, tubs, and showers. The inspector will look for damage, loose connections, leaks, and equipment that wasn’t properly installed.


Besides checking a representative number of switches, light fixtures, and receptacles, the inspector will look at the type of wiring used in the home, the electrical panel, the main service disconnect, and any equipment that wasn’t properly installed or repaired. The absence of smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors also will be noted.

Insulation and Ventilation

The inspector may note any issues with the insulation used in the home, including the depth and type, and the exhaust systems in the kitchen, bathrooms, and laundry room.

What Isn’t Included in a Basic Home Inspection?

A basic inspection is a noninvasive, visual assessment of accessible areas of the property, so inspectors may not move rugs, furniture, or other items that block their view. If there’s a problem behind a wall or under the floors, the inspector may not catch it. And you shouldn’t expect the inspector to predict how long the roof, appliances, or HVAC system might last.

You may have to hire specialists, and that could add to your overall costs. Specialized inspections might include looking at the swimming pool, fireplace chimney and flue, a well and/or septic tank, and detached sheds and garages. You also may choose to get separate inspections to search for mold, termites, asbestos, lead paint, or radon gas, and to check for municipal code compliance.

While the cost of a single-family home inspection normally ranges from $300 to $500, the price can go significantly higher depending on the home’s square footage and the addition of specialized inspections.

You’ve probably already looked at numbers with a mortgage calculator or plan to. That’s more money you’ll need to come up with before or during your closing.

Why Get a Home Inspection?

A home inspection can cost hundreds of dollars, but getting one could save you thousands. After all, the home you’re buying could be the biggest investment you’ve ever made.

Once you receive your inspection report, it will be up to you to decide if and how you want to move forward with the purchase.

As a buyer, you may have a few options, including:

•   If there are problems, you can give the seller a list of requested repairs (based on the inspection, not your taste) that must be completed and paid for as a condition of the sale

•   You may request a credit, or a concession, that gives you enough to pay for the necessary repairs yourself

•   You could back out of the deal altogether

You don’t have to do anything, by the way. If you want the home and you think the price is fair, you can proceed with the transaction even if the report lists major issues.

Especially in a hot seller’s market, you may not be able to use the report as a negotiation tool to lower the price or get the seller to pay for repairs. Still, you’ll have the information you need to make the best decision for your personal needs and goals.

Home Inspection Pros and Cons



Can give you an unbiased evaluation of the home you hope to buy Adds a cost to the already expensive home buying process
Can help you decide if repairs are in your DIY skill set or would require a pro Waiving the inspection is risky (even if it makes your offer more appealing in a seller’s market)
May help you assess if the asking price is fair or if you should negotiate
May enable you to ask the seller to make repairs before you buy

Is an Inspection Necessary for a New or Renovated Home?

It might be tempting to waive the inspection if you’re buying new construction or a home that looks new thanks to a remodel. Fresh paint, that “new home smell,” and some professional staging can be a distraction for eager buyers. But even new construction can have problems, and an inspection can help find red flags.

What Factors Into the Price of a Home Inspection?

When you’re shopping for an inspector, you may want to ask for a written estimate of how much you’ll be charged and a breakdown of costs. Here are some things that could affect the price:


The larger the home, the longer it could take to complete the inspection and the inspection report. Here’s a breakdown of approximate costs based on square footage:

Home Size

Approximate Cost

Under 1,500 sq. ft. $250
1,500 to 2,500 sq. ft. $325
2,500 to 3,000 sq. ft. $380
3,000 to 4,000 sq. ft. $420
Over 4,000 sq. ft. $500-plus


Because it may take more time — depending on the condition of the home and the design — the inspection for an older home may cost more than for a newer build of the same approximate size.


If the inspector must travel a long distance to get to the home, the cost estimate may be higher. (The inspector may charge by the mile or a negotiated amount.)

The Inspector

How much experience does the inspector have? Are they licensed by your state and/or certified by a professional association like ASHI or InterNACHI? You may have to pay extra for this expertise.

Additional Costs

The first price you’re quoted may not be the final price you’ll pay for an inspection. If you want additional inspections that require more expertise or specialized equipment, you can expect to pay much more. Inspecting detached structures on the property also may increase the price. Ask about those separate costs and if they’ll be listed on your written estimate.

How Long Does an Inspection Take?

A home inspection typically takes two to three hours onsite, and you may have to wait one or two days to get your inspection report. You may find it helps to research inspectors even before you find a home so you can move quickly when you’re ready to buy. That way you’ll have plenty of time to read the report and decide what you want to do about any points of concern.

Home inspection contingencies, which can allow buyers to get out of the contract if they find something they don’t like, usually have a tight deadline. You may have to send formal notice to the seller that you’re canceling the contract within seven days after signing the purchase agreement.

Are Any Fixes Mandatory After an Inspection?

A home inspector’s report isn’t a list of “must-dos.” Most repairs are negotiable. And you may decide not to press the seller for any fixes.

In some cases, a buyer may be denied financing or insurance if the bank or insurer isn’t satisfied with the results of an inspection and the planned repairs. Those items likely would include dangerous structural or electrical defects and/or building code violations.

Tips on Choosing an Inspector

Word-of-mouth references can be a great place to start when you’re looking for a home inspector. There are also plenty of online sites that can help you find local inspectors.

Once you have a few names, you can:

Look for Online Reviews

There are several sites that list inspectors, and some offer reviews. You also can ask the inspector for references.

Check Credentials

Is the inspector a member of a professional organization? You may want to ask to see a membership card. And don’t forget to ask for proof of licensing if it’s required in your state.

Ask About Experience

How long has the inspector been in the business? Experienced inspectors likely will have seen several types of homes and know where to look for problems.

Get Pricing Information

You can start by asking about the cost of a basic inspection and what it includes, then go from there. If the inspector does specialized tests you’re interested in (for mold, radon, asbestos, etc.), you can request to have those costs included in the estimate.

Compare Sample Reports

One way to gauge an inspector’s work may be to look at a past report and compare it to other companies’ reports.

Set the Date

Keep your timeline in mind as you consider who to hire. Things can move quickly in the mortgage process, and you don’t want your inspection to hold up the deal.

Try to be there when the inspector is working so you can see the home through an unbiased lens. If you can’t be there, you may want to ask your real estate agent to attend.

The Takeaway

It might be tempting to skip the home inspection to save money or time, or to make your offer more appealing. After all, the average home inspection cost is $300 to $500 and could go higher. But a home inspection can provide an important layer of protection.

3 Home Loan Tips

  1. Traditionally, mortgage lenders like to see a 20% down payment. But some lenders, such as SoFi, allow mortgages with as little as 3% down for qualifying first-time homebuyers.
  2. Your parents or grandparents probably got mortgages for 30 years. But these days, you can get them for 20, 15, or 10 years — and pay less interest over the life of the loan.
  3. Not to be confused with prequalification, preapproval involves a longer application, documentation, and hard credit pulls. Ideally, you want to keep your applications for pre-approval to within the same 14- to 45-day period, since many hard credit pulls outside the given time period can adversely affect your credit score, which in turn affects the mortgage terms you’ll be offered.

Photo credit: iStock/Altayb

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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What Happens When You Pay Off Your Mortgage?

What Happens When You Pay Off Your Mortgage? All You Need to Know

Is a paid-off mortgage in sight? Hooray for you! Greater monthly cash flow and less stress are coming your way. But hold up: Is hurrying to pay off a mortgage always the smartest move, and is refinancing something to consider?

Although paying off your mortgage is certainly an achievement, there are some things you need to do before you complete the process, if payoff is the path you’ve chosen.

Pros and Cons of Paying Off Your Mortgage

Paying off your mortgage is a fantastic milestone to reach, but it’s not without trade-offs. Here are a few considerations to help you make the best decision for your situation.

Pros of Paying Off a Mortgage

Cons of Paying Off a Mortgage

No monthly payment
No more interest paid to the lender Your cash is all tied up in your home’s equity
More cash in your pocket each month If you pay extra to pay off your home, you may miss out on investment strategies
You’ll need less income in retirement Lost opportunity costs for other uses for your money
Greatly reduced risk of foreclosure No tax deduction for mortgage interest, if you’re among the few who still take the deduction

What Happens When You Pay Off Your Mortgage?

To get the amount you need to pay off your mortgage, the first thing you need to do is request a mortgage payoff letter. If you pay the amount on your last statement, you won’t have the right amount. A mortgage payoff letter will include the appropriate fees and the amount of interest through the day you’re planning to pay the loan off.

The payoff letter is only good for a set amount of time. You’ll have instructions on where to send the payment.

Once you’ve sent the payoff amount, your mortgage company is responsible for sending you and the county recorder documentation to release the mortgage and lien on your home.

What Documents Do You Get After Paying Off a Mortgage?

After paying off your mortgage, you should receive (or have access to) documents proving you paid off the mortgage and no longer have a lien attached to your home. These include:

•   Satisfaction or release of mortgage. This document will be filed with the county recorder (or other applicable recording agency). It states that the mortgage has been satisfied and the lien released.

•   A canceled promissory note. When you closed on your home, one of the documents you signed was called a promissory note. Now that the mortgage has been satisfied, you may receive this document back with a “canceled” or “paid in full,” though it’s also possible you may have to call and request the document.

•   A statement on the paid-off loan balance. Your lender should send you a statement showing that your loan has been paid in full.

What Should You Do After Paying Off Your Mortgage?

After you pay off your mortgage, you’ll need to take care of a few housekeeping items.

•   Close your escrow account. Since you’re no longer sending a mortgage payment to a mortgage servicer, you’ll need to take care of the items in your escrow account, primarily your taxes and homeowners insurance.

•   Contact your county recorder’s office to double-check that the mortgage satisfaction paperwork has been filed. Once that has been filed, you will have a clear title on the property.

•   Make plans for the extra money. Whether you want to make a bigger push in your retirement account, enlarge your emergency fund, or pay off other debts, you now have more cash to do it with. If you don’t make plans for the extra money, it might just evaporate.

Want to know more? You can find more online content at our mortgage help center.

Is Prepaying a Good Idea?

Generally, paying off your mortgage early is a great idea. It reduces the principal, which in turn reduces the amount you’ll pay in interest over the life of your loan. Still, there are reasons that some homeowners consider not paying their mortgage off early.

Most lenders do not charge a prepayment penalty, but home loans signed before Jan. 10, 2014, may include one, and nonconforming mortgage loans signed after that date may have a prepayment penalty that applies within the first three years of repayment. (The different types of mortgage loans include conforming and nonconforming conventional mortgages.)

The best way to find out if prepayment is subject to a penalty is to call your mortgage servicer. The terms of your mortgage paperwork should also outline whether or not you have a prepayment penalty.

Should You Refinance Instead?

Another option you may consider is refinancing your mortgage. There are several reasons you may want to refinance instead of paying off your mortgage.

Lower monthly payment. Getting a lower rate or different loan term may lower your monthly payment. Be sure to check out current rates and this calculator for mortgages to find out what a possible new payment would be.

Shorter mortgage term. Refinancing a 30-year mortgage to, say, a 15-year mortgage can keep you close to paying off your mortgage while also providing financial flexibility.

Spare cash. Whatever your need is — home renovations, college funding, paying off higher-interest debt — a cash-out refinance might be an option.

The Takeaway

What happens when you pay off your mortgage? After doing a jig in the living room, you’ll need to take care of a few housekeeping tasks and make plans for the extra money.

Would a refinance to a shorter term make more sense, or pulling cash out with a cash-out refi?

Whatever you decide, SoFi stands ready to help. Whether you want to apply for a mortgage or looking to refinance, our experts can answer all your mortgage questions.

Find out more about SoFi’s home financing options and get your rate on refinancing with no obligation.


Is paying off your mortgage a good idea?

The answer depends on an individual’s situation. If you have the money and you’d love to shed that monthly obligation for good, paying off a mortgage is a good idea.

If you’re worried about funding your retirement or losing opportunities to invest, paying off your mortgage may not be a good idea for you.

What do you do after you pay off your mortgage?

Ensure that you have received your canceled promissory note, and update your property tax and insurance billers on where to bill you. Since you no longer will have a mortgage servicing company, you must pay your insurance (if you choose to keep it) and property taxes yourself.

Is it better to pay off a mortgage before you retire?

Paying off a mortgage will give you more to work with in retirement since you’re not paying a mortgage, of course. But if your retirement accounts need a boost, most financial experts contend that allocating money there is a better idea than paying off your mortgage.

Paying off a mortgage when you have low cash reserves can also put you at risk.

Does paying off your mortgage early affect your credit score?

Surprisingly, paying off your mortgage early won’t affect your credit score much. Your credit score has already taken into account the years of full, on-time payments you made each month.

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.

Photo credit: iStock/katleho Seisa

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Everything You Need to Know About Home Swapping

What Is House Trading & How Does It Work?

Home exchange. House swap. House trading. By any name, it’s a twist on home buying and selling that can spare both parties the irritation of showings and the expense of agent commissions.

Trading homes isn’t done every day, but maybe it’s an option waiting for your exploration.

What Is House Trading?

You’re likely familiar with home exchange programs when it comes to vacations. You dash off to a lovely apartment in Paris, and the folks come to the Big Apple to enjoy your SoHo loft. Both parties enjoy a vacation with a much lower price tag.

But what’s talked about much less is permanently trading homes. Find the idea intriguing? Here’s what you need to know.

How Does House Trading Work?

Think of a house swap as a win-win. You want to sell your house. You find a home you like, and the homeowner is interested in buying your home too. It happens.

What comes next? You trade. This means there will be two simultaneous transactions. You sell your home to the Joneses, and they buy yours, typically on the same day. Because you’re selling and buying at the same time, it’s much like a trade. This is not a simple transaction, though. You want the stars aligned on that day.

However, there are some similarities to buying a home the traditional way. Expect the basics of the home buying process to be the same: getting a home inspection, doing a title search, qualifying for a mortgage, and closing, when you will sell your home and buy the new one in two separate but simultaneous transactions. You pay off one mortgage, if you have one, and take on a new one if needed. At the same time, the other party will sign their purchase and sale agreement.

As much as doing all this at once may feel overwhelming, the upside is that you won’t have two mortgages on your hands at the same time. If both homes are owned free and clear, then the only money matters are transfer taxes and closing costs.

You’ll probably want a real estate lawyer who knows how these deals work at your side.

It could be that you have a good friend or relative who loves your home, and you, theirs, and you’re interested in trading. But the more likely circumstance is that you find your match in cyberspace via home exchange websites and through social media.

What If the Homes Are Unequal in Value?

It’s quite probable that the two homes won’t be of equal value. That’s not a deal-breaker, though. What matters is whether each house meets the needs and desires of the other party.

It’s important for both parties to order home appraisals. If one home is more valuable than the other, the buyer of the more expensive home pays the seller the difference at closing.

To make the home exchange even, some folks have been known to include a boat or car in their side of the deal.

How Common Is It?

Trading homes is not something that happens every day, but as people continue to search for creative ways to fulfill their dreams, and technology helps connect like-minded folks, it’s likely the use of house trading will grow.

Pros and Cons of Trading Your House


There’s something to be said for this unconventional way of buying and selling a home. One biggie is that you may be able to buy a house without a Realtor. If there is no real estate agent involved in the trade, both buyer and seller keep the money they would have shelled out to their agents.

You eliminate some of the hassle of moving day. Because buyer and seller are working in concert, it makes orchestration of the move easier.

Another benefit is that you miss the whole dog-and-pony show of potential buyers traipsing through your home and the stress of having it look perfect for showings.

You also may find that getting financing when trading a home is easier. Some homeowners encounter hurdles qualifying for a mortgage before their home is sold, but if you have a contract to sell your current house (which you would in a home trade), your lender won’t count your monthly mortgage payments as debt if you apply for a mortgage.

Having this improved debt-to-income ratio can allow you to qualify for better terms on your new mortgage, which just might save you a ton of money as well.


Trading isn’t without its issues. What if you’re in a hurry to move? You may not be able to find someone who wants a house swap as quickly as you want to move.

Truth is, house trading may mean you have fewer options, you may not get the neighborhood you have in mind, or you may not find a home with all your dream features.

Know too that if you owe more on your mortgage than your home is worth, you may have trouble getting financing. The only way a trade would work is if you pay the lender the difference of what you sell your house for and what is still owed on the mortgage.

If for some reason the purchase and sale don’t happen at the same time, you could be stuck for a time with two mortgages. You can lessen the odds of that fiasco by using the same title company for both transactions.

Pros of Trading Homes

Cons of Trading Homes

You may not need to use a real estate agent May not find a home as quickly as you want
Getting financing may be easier Fewer options
Avoid the hassle of showing your home to multiple potential buyers Could have to temporarily pay two mortgages

Trading Houses vs Conventional Selling

With trading there’s a good chance you will be able to avoid using a real estate agent if you find your trading partner on your own, be it a relative, colleague, friend of a friend, or from a website. You can also avoid the tradition of showing the home to prospective buyers.

There are some things that are pretty much the same.

Both parties may need new mortgages, and both may want home inspections. Both will probably want attorneys present.

Trading Homes

Conventional Sale

Likely no real estate agent Usually buyer’s and seller’s agents involved
Small market Wide market
Deal with one buyer Handle multiple offers

The Takeaway

Trading homes is a viable option for house hunters who find a trading partner with a mutual real estate admiration. While the home exchange approach is decidedly nontraditional, some rituals of a house swap are the same.

You want to take care in your search for financing, for example, try finding an online mortgage lender that best suits you.

3 Home Loan Tips

  1. To see a house in person, particularly in a tight or expensive market, you may need to show proof of pre-qualification to the real estate agent. With SoFi’s online application, it can take just minutes to get pre-qualified.
  2. Not to be confused with pre-qualification, pre-approval involves a longer application, documentation, and hard credit pulls. Ideally, you want to keep your applications for pre-approval to within the same 14- to 45-day period, since many hard credit pulls outside the given time period can adversely affect your credit score, which in turn affects the mortgage terms you’ll be offered.
  3. Your parents or grandparents probably got mortgages for 30 years. But these days, you can get them for 20, 15, or 10 years — and pay less interest over the life of the loan.

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.

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.

Photo credit: iStock/AndreyPopov

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