Beautiful Small-Kitchen Remodel Ideas

Beautiful Small-Kitchen Remodel Ideas

Navigating a small kitchen can be challenging, especially if you love to entertain or have numerous mouths to feed. If your snug cooking area needs an upgrade, you might be craving ways to create more elbow room and storage areas.

Fortunately, choosing from the buffet of small-kitchen remodel ideas can help you expand your culinary space without breaking the bank.

What Is the Average Size of a Small Kitchen?

Today, the average small kitchen is considered to be 70 square feet. Many apartments in big cities have kitchens of 50 square feet or less.

Isn’t that a shame? Not always. Unsurprisingly, millennial homebuyers, who have constituted the biggest share of buyers for years, are far less likely than baby boomers and Gen Xers to cook dinner at home.

A little kitchen might suit them fine, but they still may like the idea of zhuzhing it up.

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

10 Small-Kitchen Remodel Ideas on a Budget

You don’t need to demo a wall or take out a reverse mortgage to improve your cozy canteen.

At an average of $150 per square foot for both materials and labor, a homeowner might spend $10,500 for a 70-square-foot kitchen remodel. Some will spend much more, and some, much less.

Here are 10 small-kitchen remodel ideas on a budget that will work for most kitchen configurations.

1. Go for a New Backsplash

Installing a festive new backsplash can range from $10 to $95 per square foot. Stick with ceramic tile, brick, or tin for more affordable options than marble or glass.

Adding a backsplash with geometric patterns can make a small kitchen seem larger.

2. Install Open Cabinets and Shelves

Open cabinets and shelves offer a contemporary feel and a chance to display your favorite dishware. The look can also be a less expensive option than traditional cabinets while lending a sense of airiness to a once-cramped kitchen.

3. Change the Flooring

Installing a new floor can be an affordable way to revamp the look of your small kitchen. Vinyl kitchen flooring comes in a variety of snazzy colors and patterns, and costs between $1.85 and $3 per square foot, or up to $10 for high-end materials.

4. Paint With Light Colors

A fresh coat of paint can give an instant facelift to any small kitchen. But dark colors tend to absorb light and constrict the space. By choosing light colors, you can brighten and open up the room.

5. Add Style and Storage Above

Maybe you bought a starter home, and the kitchen isn’t all that.

Maybe downsizing your home seems like the thing to do, little kitchen and all.

Whatever the case, small kitchens generally need more storage space. Inexpensive stylish bins or decorative baskets on top of kitchen cabinets can help.

6. Hang a Ceiling Rack for Pots and Pans

Create vertical storage for your pots and pans with a rack hung from the ceiling. Moderately priced pot racks range from modern to rustic-chic in style.

7. Hang Your Kitchen Utensils

Carve out more room in your kitchen with a magnetic knife rack. Decorate a wall with your most-used wooden spoons and cutting boards.

8. Use the Space Under Your Cabinets

To free up more counter and cabinet space, install a paper towel holder or a wine rack underneath the upper kitchen cabinets. You could also add an extra shelf for spices or coffee mugs.

9. Opt for a Single Sink

If you have a small kitchen, you probably don’t want a sink eating up a big chunk of your counter space. Single butler sinks can provide plenty of depth for dishwashing and come in a variety of prices for the budget-conscious.

10. Choose Compact Appliances

Compact dishwashers are ideal for small kitchens and can cost less than standard size options. And if you are a one- to two-person household, a slimline refrigerator can be a great space saver; they come in fun colors and retro styles.

10 Small U-Shaped Kitchen Remodel Ideas

A U-shaped kitchen, also called C-shaped or horseshoe-shaped kitchen, can provide a great layout for small kitchen spaces, giving one or more chefs more room to maneuver.

Its open configuration offers functionality, but you can lose some storage and counter space.

Here are 10 small U-shaped kitchen remodel ideas to give you a little more whisking room.

1. Implement a Triangle Workflow

To maximize the layout in your small U-shaped kitchen, a triangle workflow plan can allow for the right amount of spacing between your sink, stove, and refrigerator.

Configure your three major “work” areas at adjacent countertops, ideally placing the fridge and the stove across from each other on the peninsulas, with the sink in the connecting, middle counter.

2. Create a Breakfast Bar

Try turning one of the lengths of your U-shaped kitchen into a breakfast bar/seating area. It only needs to be wide enough to hold a cup of morning joe and a cereal bowl, and deep enough to slide in some stools underneath.

3. Install a Window Over the Sink

A window over the kitchen sink is a fantastic way to bring the great outdoors into your U-shaped kitchen. The extra light provides breath to the space and a view while washing the dishes.

4. Get Depth With Contrasting Colors

While dark paint colors aren’t typically the best choice for a small U-shaped kitchen, there are ways to create space by using slightly darker shades.

For example, if you have white cabinets, painting the surrounding walls and backsplash area a light gray can give the illusion of depth.

5. Consider a Darker Countertop

If you have light-colored cabinets, the contrast of a rich brown or black marble countertop can trick the eye into seeing more depth.

6. Install Recessed Lighting

Hanging light fixtures can break up the flow in a small U-shaped kitchen, but recessed lighting can give a chic, streamlined look while increasing the amount of light in the room.

7. Make a Statement With a Black & White Contrast

White cabinets against black countertops and flooring can make a striking design statement while adding dimension. If you choose a reflective black paint or vinyl for the floor, it will give off an illuminating effect when the light hits it.

8. Designate a Wall of Cabinets

You can stretch the space and amount of storage by dedicating an entire wall to cabinets. You’ll lose some counter space but reduce clutter. Try extending the cabinets to the ceiling for an elongated effect.

9. Choose Glass for Your Cabinets

Glass panes on your kitchen cabinets can reflect light, creating the illusion of more space. Their transparency will make it easy for you and your guests to find cookware and wine glasses.

10. Ditch the Cabinet Hardware

If you are replacing your cabinets, consider a style with no handles or knobs. Doing so could offer a sleek, modern look that won’t cramp the design flow.

Ways to Finance a Small-Kitchen Remodel

If you don’t have the cash to pay for your renovations, there are several financing options to help you get that new kitchen sink without draining your savings.

Home Improvement Loan

A personal loan for home improvements allows you to receive a lump sum, often the same day, with no collateral required. You’ll repay the money, plus interest, in monthly installments.

An unsecured loan may come with a fairly high interest rate.


If you have enough home equity, you may be eligible for a home equity line of credit (HELOC) by using your home as collateral. The rate will typically be lower than that of a personal loan or credit card. Plus, you’ll only make payments on the amount borrowed.

But HELOCs may come with closing costs, fees, and a minimum-withdrawal requirement. Most have a variable rate, which could eventually go up. Your home could be at risk if you default on a HELOC.

Still, when rates rise, so does the popularity of HELOCs.

Cash-Out Refinance

With a cash-out refinance, you can use the equity in your home to help redo your small kitchen. You would refinance your mortgage for more than you owe and use part of the difference to cover the project costs.

The downsides of a cash-out refinance? Your overall debt on your house will increase, and closing costs will typically be 2% to 5% of the loan amount.

Credit Card

If you have a 0% or low-rate credit card and can pay off the debt quickly, it could be a smart way to pay for a kitchen remodel while earning some travel miles. But a high-interest card could result in hefty monthly payments, and missing even one payment damages credit scores.

Recommended: Buying? Learn the Different Types of Mortgage Loans

The Takeaway

A small-kitchen remodel can increase the value of your home and raise your joy factor. You can put your little-kitchen project on the front burner with a range of financing options.

SoFi offers a fixed-rate personal loan with no fees as well as a cash-out refinance.

With a HELOC brokered by SoFi, you can access up to 95%, or $500,000, of your home equity to put toward your small-kitchen remodel and other home improvements.

Get cooking to bring your visions to life with a HELOC.


What is the average cost of remodeling a small kitchen?

The average cost of a small-kitchen remodel is $10,500, given an industry average of $150 per square foot for materials and labor and an average small-kitchen size of 70 square feet.

Can you remodel a small kitchen for $5,000?

A do-it-yourselfer can remodel a small kitchen for as little as $5,000 by painting the walls and existing cabinets, installing new hardware (or none at all), laying vinyl flooring, and buying white or black appliances instead of stainless.

What is the best layout for a small kitchen?

U-shaped kitchens are popular because they maximize cabinet and surface areas. If an island won’t fit, try a peninsular breakfast bar connected to the wall. In a narrow kitchen, aim for a double galley.

Can you update an old small kitchen?

Of course you can. Plan it, budget for it, and add about 20% for emergencies.

Photo credit: iStock/martin-dm

SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See 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 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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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.


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

SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See 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 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.

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.


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

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.

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 for more information.


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Using a Coborrower on Your Loan

Using a Co-borrower on Your Loan

Loans have become an integral part of American financial life. We need a mortgage to buy our first home, and an auto loan to purchase a car. More recently, people are turning to personal loans to cover surprise bills and avoid high-interest credit card debt. But just because you need a loan doesn’t mean a lender is going to give you the loan — and interest rate — you want.

If you’re struggling to qualify for a loan, a friend or family member may be able to help by becoming a co-borrower. By leveraging their income, credit score, and financial history, you may qualify for better loan terms. Let’s dive into the details.

What is a Co-borrower?

A loan co-borrower basically takes on the loan with you, and their name will be on the loan with yours. They will be equally responsible for paying the loan back and will have part ownership of whatever the loan buys. When you take out a mortgage with someone, the co-borrower will own half the home.

When applying for a loan, your partner is called a “co-applicant.” Once the loan is approved, the co-applicant becomes the co-borrower.

Spouses often co-borrow when buying property, and when taking out a home improvement loan for a remodel. In other circumstances, two parties become co-borrowers in order to qualify for a larger loan or better loan terms than if they were to take out a loan solo.

Recommended: All About Variable Interest Rate Loans

Co-borrower vs. Cosigner

A cosigner plays a slightly different role than a co-borrower. A cosigner’s income and financial history are still factored into the loan decision, and their positive credit standing benefits the primary applicant’s loan application. But a cosigner does not share ownership of any property the loan is used to purchase. And a cosigner will help make loan payments only if the primary borrower is unable to make them.

Cosigning helps assure lenders that someone will pay back the loan. Typically, a cosigner has a stronger financial history than the primary borrower. This can help someone get approved for a loan they might not qualify for on their own, or secure better terms.

For example, a parent with a strong credit history might cosign their child’s mortgage. The parent’s income likely lowers the child’s debt-to-income ratio. This, along with the parent’s longer credit history and typically higher credit score, allows the child to get a lower interest rate on their home loan. The parent doesn’t co-own the home, but they do have to make mortgage payments if their child can’t.

Recommended: What Is Revolving Credit?

Benefits of a Co-borrower

Having a co-borrower can help two people who both want to achieve a financial goal — like first-time homeownership or buying a new car — put in a stronger application than they might have on their own. The lender will have double the financial history to consider, and two borrowers to rely on when it comes to repayment. Therefore, the loan is a less risky prospect, which translates to more favorable terms.

Having a co-borrower has the potential to improve the borrowing power for both partners. Having a cosigner, on the other hand, is generally more beneficial to the primary applicant than it is for the cosigner.

Risks of a Co-borrower

By essentially taking on a financial partner, co-borrowers take on significant risk. Both parties are responsible for the loan from the beginning. And any bad financial decisions made by one borrower (like getting mixed up in short-term loans) can affect the other if it means the struggling borrower can’t make their payments.

Then there is the personal risk to the relationship. Money conflicts can sour a bond and even lead to the partnership being dissolved. Before taking on a co-borrower or agreeing to become one, it’s important to have an honest discussion. Both parties must be open about their credit history, financial habits, and goals.

Consider drawing up a contract — separate from the loan agreement — that outlines how responsibility will be divided and what happens in worst-case scenarios. While it may feel awkward, it can save you both a more heated argument later on.

When Does Having a Co-borrower Make Sense?

Applying with a co-borrower makes the most sense when you’re working as a team toward the same financial objective. Spouses buying a house together is a common example, but a joint personal loan with a partner might also be considered.

Personal loans are often used to fund home improvements or used for debt consolidation. Business partners may also co-borrow loans to help get their ventures up and running.

Many companies, including SoFi, now allow qualified individuals to co-borrow on personal loans. That means you and your co-borrower (whether a spouse, friend, or family member) may be able to qualify for a better personal loan interest rate and fund your financial goals much more easily.

Awarded Best Personal Loan of 2023 by NerdWallet.
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The Takeaway

Taking out a loan is a big decision, and doing so with a co-borrower carries additional risks. A co-borrower is a partner in the loan and any property the loan is used to purchase. If one borrower cannot make their payments, the co-borrower will be on the hook for the full amount. But if both parties can come to an agreement about how they’ll handle any financial hardships, co-borrowing can have major benefits. By pooling their income and debt, they may lower their debt-to-income ratio and qualify for a mortgage or personal loan with a lower interest rate and better terms.

Thinking about co-borrowing on a personal loan? Check out your rate on a SoFi Personal Loan in 1 minute.

Photo credit: Stocksy

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

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


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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 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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