How Much Does Tree Removal Cost?

Large trees, even landmark ones, sometimes have to be removed when they’re dead or dying. How much it costs to cut down a tree varies depending on where you live, the tree’s health and condition, height and diameter, accessibility, and other factors. But a typical homeowner can expect to pay $750 per tree on average, or $10–$14 a foot.

Ultimately, it’s better to spend the money upfront than risk a tree falling and causing injury or damage. Keep reading to find out what tree removal costs, all it entails, and the complications that may drive up your price.

Average Tree Removal Cost

Removing a tree can range from $385 to $1,070, according to , a site that matches consumers with landscapers. Small trees up to 30 feet or so cost $400–$500 on average. Medium trees, up to 60 feet, cost $500–$900. And large trees can cost $1,000–$2,000. Fallen trees are significantly cheaper to remove: just $85 to $300.

If you have multiple trees to remove, the cost can really add up. While many people throw it on a credit card, more and more homeowners are turning to fixed-rate personal loans to cover unexpected bills. SoFi personal loans are unsecured, meaning there’s no collateral required, and getting approved for a personal loan takes just one minute.

Cost of Tree Removal by Type

The type of tree you have can give you an indication of how much it’ll cost to cut down. That’s because of each variety’s predictable height and the hardness of its wood. Cost figures below are based on typical mature tree height.


Average Cost

Small fruit tree $450
Palm $725
Oak $775
Pine $925
Maple $1,150

Recommended: Typical Landscaping Costs

Factors That Affect Tree Removal Cost

The cost of tree removal typically includes cutting down the tree and cutting it into pieces. How complicated this is — how big, how old, how many limbs — affects the price. The cost of hauling away all these pieces may or may not be included in your cost.

To find the right contractor, you may want to call multiple tree removal services and compare quotes on the project. Make sure to ask what exactly their price includes and what extra services or fees may come up. By the way, tree trimming and pruning is a separate service from tree removal.

Some factors that can affect your tree removal quote are:

The Tree

Obviously, the tree itself is a major factor. Informing the arborist of the type and age of your tree, as noted above, will give them a good idea of its height and diameter and the number of branches.

The accessibility of the tree is also extremely important. A big tree on a small lot surrounded by buildings and power lines is a much more complex undertaking than a big tree in an open field.

Debris Removal

Homeowners have a few options when it comes to debris removal: hauling, chipping, or splitting. With hauling, the removal company should take the felled tree off-site. That cost may include hauling away only the bulk of the tree. If you need additional limbs and debris removed from your yard, you may have to pay more. You may also have to pay extra for tree trunk removal, depending on how big it is, though the company should cut it into smaller pieces.

Some companies can run debris through a chipper, so you can use it as mulch in your garden. It can actually be cheaper to have limbs chipped instead of hauling them away. Or, if you have a fireplace or wood stove, the company can split the logs so you can use them as firewood.

Stump Removal

Stump removal and stump grinding are not typically included in the tree removal price either. That means you may be left with the stump of the tree in your yard, unless you pay extra or negotiate the stump’s inclusion in the quote. Stump removal costs $60–$350, or around $2–$3 per inch of diameter.

Recommended: Top Home Improvements That Increase Your Home’s Value

How to Determine If a Tree Should Be Removed

The biggest danger unhealthy trees pose is falling — onto people, homes, cars, or power lines. But even a healthy tree may need to be removed if it’s growing too close to a house or electrical wires. If you’re considering putting your home on the market, removing a threatening tree can give potential buyers (and their home inspectors) one less thing to worry about.

According to the Arbor Day Foundation, these are the telltale signs you might have to remove a tree:

•   Dead or dying branches

•   Signs of infection (discolored leaves or bark; visible pests or fungus)

•   Root defects

•   Rotted or hollow trunk

•   Trunk that’s leaning or appears unstable

Generally, the first step is to hire an arborist to give you an opinion on your tree’s health. Some conditions may be unsightly but not necessarily damaging to the tree. And many cities require an arborist’s evaluation before you’re allowed to remove a tree.

How Much Does DIY Tree Removal Cost?

DIY tree removal is an option in some cases, but it can be difficult and even dangerous. If you don’t have all the needed skills and tools, then you shouldn’t try to remove a tree yourself. Cutting down even a small fruit tree may cost a homeowner $425, while a pro might charge $150–$385.

If you do try to do it yourself, consider the costs below:

Safety glasses $13
Work gloves $14
Felling wedges $24/pack of 6
Hard hat $28
Hearing protection $25
Chainsaw chaps $71
Steel toe work boots $100
Chainsaw $150
Total $425

The Takeaway

Homeowners can expect to pay $750 per tree on average, or $10–$14 a foot. Your price will vary depending on the size and condition of the tree, its accessibility, and what you want to do with the debris and stump. The first step is to hire an arborist to evaluate your tree and make an informed recommendation about how to manage any risk. Whatever you do, attempting DIY tree removal is usually a bad idea.

SoFi offers personal loans with no origination or prepayment fees, and competitive fixed interest rates. If you are facing a major landscaping expense and cash is tight, you can check personal loan interest rates now to see what you qualify for.

SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2022 winner for Best Online Personal Loan overall.

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

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

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

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


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10 Steps for the Perfect Bathroom Remodel

A bathroom remodel is one of the most challenging projects you can take on in your home. Bathroom remodel costs range from modest cosmetic updates ($3k) to full gut renos ($30k), with the national average coming in at $11k.

Your bathroom budget will greatly depend on the purpose of your remodel. Whatever you have in mind, these 10 steps can help you plan appropriately, anticipate problems, and ensure you end up with a room you love.

Why Homeowners Remodel Bathrooms

There are several potential reasons behind a homeowner’s decision to remodel a bathroom. For some people, it might be a combination of reasons.

Updating the Look

Happy with the layout of your current bathroom and feel it just needs a refresh? Focus your attention on material selection, and perhaps add new cabinetry or plumbing fixtures. You can find lots of ingenious ideas online for how to make a small bathroom look bigger.

You’ll still want to pay attention to the age of your home and the remodels done by previous homeowners. After all, laying new tile over a foundation rife with mold or making do with an outdated electrical system is inviting big problems down the road.

It’s best to tackle essential updates first. If your budget doesn’t allow for a full reno, you might want to hold off until you have the money to do the job right.

Recommended: 32 Inexpensive Ways to Refresh Your Home

Resale Value

If you’re updating your bathroom in preparation for selling your home, think about what potential buyers might look for. While it’s impossible to anticipate what one random buyer might want in a new home, you can research your local real estate market to learn what appeals to the majority of homeowners.

You also can find out the resale value of bathroom remodels by using SoFi’s Home Project Value Estimator.

Better Functionality and More Storage

Perhaps you’ve always hated how the door hits the vanity as it swings open. Or you’re tired of stacking toilet paper on the toilet tank and seeing makeup on the counter. Maybe you never use the bathtub and long for a large shower stall, or wish for two sinks instead of one to expedite the family’s morning rush. Or it’s possible your bathroom is a dark, moist cave, crying out for natural light and better ventilation.

This level of bathroom remodel will likely have you gutting the entire space, possibly rearranging the fixtures and rerouting plumbing. Not only will your bathroom be brand new in that case, it could be higher end, too.

Here are the 10 steps to take while planning your perfect bathroom remodel.

1. Determine What Your Bathroom Remodel Should Achieve

When embarking on any project that requires a good chunk of time and cash, you want to determine what the overall goal is for your bathroom remodel. Is it to expand the existing space? To add a shower or a tub? To improve your home’s value? Or to update a vintage bathroom to one that is more modern in design and functionality?

All of these answers will factor into your design and budget. Other considerations to make when planning a bathroom remodel include:

•   How many people will use the room?

•   How much time do you spend in the bathroom in the morning, afternoon, and evening?

•   What’s your routine — how does your current space hinder it, and how could a new space improve it?

•   Do you just want something that’s easy to clean? Or do you want to improve the look for resale?

2. Research and Budget

Before you get too far with planning, it’s good to know how much bathroom you can afford. Even if you have a ballpark figure in mind, you’ll want to understand how much a full bathroom remodel is going to cost in the end.

A bathroom remodel typically costs between $3,000 and $30,000, with $11,000 the national average. Before proceeding with your dream plans, first think about whether you’re after a basic update, a mid- to upper-range remodel, or a deluxe spa getaway. Factor in a cushion of 20% for unforeseen costs.

To keep costs down, avoid moving the existing plumbing and wiring. Some homeowners focus on just a shower remodel, which can run from $1,100 to $5,500. To get a sense of how much it would cost to update your home use our Home Improvement Cost Calculator.

Recommended: How to Pay for Emergency Home Repairs

3. Hire a Designer Who Loves Bathroom Remodels

Given the complexity of rerouting plumbing, laying tile and flooring, and installing vanities and toilets, you may need to hire a few different professionals to get the job done:

•   Interior designer, to reimagine the space and source materials

•   Architect, to handle structural changes

•   Plumber

•   Electrician

•   Tile installer

•   General contractor, to manage them all

What exactly will all these folks be doing, besides spending your money? We’ll walk you through it.

First, a professional interior designer will think of things a homeowner will not. For instance: which way the cabinet doors open, if there’s room for a washer/dryer, how a skylight could brighten the space, or ways to rearrange the room in a creative way that maximizes both functionality and efficiency.

On the other hand, if you know what you want and where to find the products you need — and you have at least some DIY experience — then you might take on the design process yourself.

A general contractor will hire and supervise the various subcontractors, and keep the project on schedule and on budget. If you’re very comfortable tackling the demolition, construction, and installation, you may not need a general contractor. Just remember that once you start exposing layers of old work, a straightforward update can devolve into something more complex.

For major structural changes, you’ll want to hire an architect, and consider bringing in an experienced plumber and electrician, too. In some places, it’s required by law.

While you’re keeping an eye on the budget, don’t forget about your valuable time. Even with DIY experience, a bathroom remodel can take homeowners several times as long as a professional to complete — and your results may not be up to your high standards.

Don’t hesitate to bring in hired help as needed. To keep your budget on track, you can still agree to take on simpler tasks like demo and painting.

4. Refine Your Bathroom Remodel Plan

If your dream bathroom doesn’t seem as though it could ever fit in the space you have, think about what’s on the other side of the bathroom walls. Can you steal square footage from an adjacent closet, adjoining bedroom, or underused hallway? Is it possible to punch out an exterior wall to add square footage?

Other options to consider: whether you want the toilet out in the open or housed in its own private water closet, and what kind of special storage you need — for hair tools, makeup, and other everyday essentials?

Choosing the style of bathroom you want can also be complicated. You may love the look of the industrial-style bathroom in your favorite restaurant, but will it look right in your Craftsman bungalow? Designers recommend that you look to the rest of your house for inspiration or consult resources like Pinterest for ideas.

5. Approve Your Bathroom Remodel Design

Next you’ll consult with your interior designer and/or architect to review preliminary floor plans and sketches. These will show how the room’s components — shower, vanity, any cabinetry — fit in the space.

At this point, you’ll focus on the big picture: where the major elements go and the functionality of the space. Don’t worry about the finishing touches like colors and materials. These drawings and scope of work will be used to interview contractors and solicit estimates.

Once the measurements are nailed down, you’ll know how many square feet of tile you’ll have to order or how big of a marble slab you’ll want for the countertop. You or your designer can use this information to start shopping around for the best price on materials.

6. Choose Your Bathroom Materials, Finishes, and Colors

Now it’s time to research materials, so you’ll have a basic knowledge of what you need and how much it will cost. Marble may look great, but it’s not stain-resistant and so is a pain to maintain.

Maybe you want to look at easy-to-clean options. Or perhaps you didn’t know that wood can indeed work for countertops in bathrooms if properly treated. Or you weren’t aware of the vast stone possibilities that could work with your design.

7. Work on Design Development and Construction Documents

At this stage, you should be actively reviewing the floor plan, elevations, tile layout, and any other relevant drawings associated with your project. More planning on the front end of the project means fewer mistakes will arise later in the process.

You’ll also want to be kept up to speed on everything that goes into your project: what materials will be used and how they will be laid out. If something in construction drawings isn’t specified — such as general tile layout or how you want trim pieces in your shower niche to look — chances are your tile installer will make a decision on the spot, especially if you’re not around on the install day.

This stage will also involve pulling permits. If you’re working with a knowledgeable contractor, they will likely take this on. Many are skilled at navigating the process with contacts they’ve made at the local planning office. If you’re doing much of the work yourself, you’ll need to brush up on what permits you’ll need, and where and how to submit drawings for approval.

8. Get Estimates From Contractors

It’s a common process to get three separate estimates from licensed contractors for each home remodel project in which you bring in professional help. If you’re already working with a designer, he or she may know skilled contractors or can help you interview professionals to make sure they’re right for the job.

It helps to know about what goes into a contractor’s bid. Don’t let the highest bid scare you, and don’t immediately jump on the lowest bid.

9. Plan for Installation and Prepare for Bathroom Demo

In an ideal world, you will have every last detail planned and every material picked out and ordered before construction starts. The last thing you want is to get halfway through your remodel and have to tell your construction crew to take a two-week break while you wait for that back-ordered marble to arrive from Italy.

You’ll want to nail down the nuts and bolts of how construction will flow and where supplies will be stored. You’ll need a dry space inside for most materials, so you’ll need to decide where you’re going to keep displaced furniture and household items while construction is underway. Can you make space in your garage or on the side of your house?

Other questions to consider:

•   Are you prepared for the disruption?

•   What time will the workers be there, and will someone be on-site to answer questions and oversee the construction?

•   Will it affect your work schedule or any trips planned?

•   Where will you shower during construction?

•   Do you have an alternate place to stay should the inconvenience of not having a bathroom become too much?

•   Who in your family will be available should a construction question come up?

•   Think about how long the crew will be there and if the materials will arrive in time.

Any last-minute decisions need to take top priority to ensure a smooth-running bathroom remodel that stays on budget and on time.

10. Make a Post-Completion Punch List

The National Kitchen & Bath Association recommends that you keep all receipts, contracts, warranties, and product information for every major purchase so that you understand how to care for and maintain the materials.

Nevertheless, it’s highly likely that something with your bathroom remodel will go wrong. Maybe you overlooked something, materials arrived broken or scratched or not at all, there’s a dent in the wall, or the caulk was too messy.

Now is the time to make a list of these things, either in an informal email or more formal document with your contractor. Get it into the hands of the person responsible for correcting the mistakes and include a date by which the fixes and finish work should be completed.

It’s normal for a contractor to return several times to address any post-project concerns, so try not to worry. Everyone makes little mistakes in a big, complicated project like a bathroom remodel. Just hold off making your final payment until the problems are fixed.

The Takeaway

Bathroom remodel costs can vary widely from $3k to $30k, with the average about $11k for a full bathroom. Most of your money will be going to labor (typically $50–$70/hour) rather than materials. To keep costs down, take the time to plan meticulously and get multiple bids from contractors.

Need a way to finance your new bathroom remodel? Check out SoFi unsecured Personal Loans. Compared to a home equity line of credit (HELOC), which may only cover a handful of projects, a SoFi Personal Loan of up to $100,000 allows you to use the money for whatever your dream bathroom demands.

Get prequalified online for a SoFi personal loan with no fees required and no obligation.

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.

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.

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

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 .

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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couple with financial advisor

Mortgage Broker vs Direct Lender: What’s the Difference?

You’re ready to buy a house, and you need financing. There are two main options: direct lenders and mortgage brokers.

Which should you shop for a mortgage with? If you have credit issues or other needs, considering a broker’s array of options would make sense. If your financial health is solid and you want to save time and money, applying with a direct lender could be a good course of action.

In any case, it’s smart to get a few quotes and compare offers for the same type of loan and term.

What Is a Mortgage Broker?

A mortgage broker is a middleman between the mortgage seeker and lenders, including banks, credit unions, and private mortgage companies.

With a single application, a broker will provide you with access to different types of mortgage loans and, if you choose one, will walk you through underwriting.

Mortgage brokers are licensed and regulated. You’ll want to ensure that any broker you’re interested in working with is credentialed by checking the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System & Registry consumer access site. You can also check platforms like the Better Business Bureau and Yelp to see what past clients say.

Brokers are compensated by the borrower or lender. Borrower fees typically range from 1% to 2% of the total loan amount. Lender commissions may range from 0.50% to 2.75% of the total loan amount, but lenders usually pass the costs on to borrowers by building them into the loan.

How to Find a Mortgage Broker

You could ask your current lending institution, friends, family members, or real estate agent for a referral to a mortgage broker.

After checking licensing, you may interview more than one broker before deciding on one. You might want to ask about their fees, lenders they work with, and experience.

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

What Is a Direct Lender?

In the mortgage broker vs. lender dichotomy, a direct lender is the bank, credit union, or mortgage company that originates, processes, and funds mortgages.

Mortgage loan officers, processors, and underwriters work for the company. Loan originators usually work on commission.

A loan officer may offer a mortgage at various price points, from a loan with discount points for a lower rate to a no-closing-cost loan, which is when the lender agrees to pay the closing costs in exchange for a higher interest rate.

Recommended: First-Time Home Buying Guide

How to Find a Direct Lender

Most people have a relationship with a bank or credit union, which they might want to expand on by getting a mortgage quote. Then there are myriad online mortgage lenders.

Pulling up the day’s mortgage rates online will conjure a list of direct lenders advertising their rates.

What Are the Pros of Working With a Mortgage Broker?

Because they are able to offer a variety of quotes from different sources, brokers can be useful if you’re looking to easily compare mortgage options.

They may offer specialized loans.

Loan brokers set their own profit margins, so negotiating could be easier.

A broker could be useful if you have concerns like a fair or bad credit score or student loan debt.

What Are the Cons of Working With a Mortgage Broker?

Brokers may have preferred lenders that don’t necessarily offer the best interest rate. And some lenders won’t work with brokers at all.

If paid by lender commission, a broker could be tempted to steer a borrower to a more expensive loan.

Brokers’ loans may take longer to close.

Broker fees tend to be higher, but that could be because the mortgages offered are sometimes more complex. And mortgage brokers may charge borrowers directly (the fee of 1% to 2% of the total loan amount).

What Are the Pros of Working With a Direct Lender?

By working with a direct lender, you’ll skip the broker fees, and you may get a better rate with lower closing costs (although both lenders and brokers can offer “rebate pricing” — a higher interest rate in exchange for lower up-front costs).

A direct lender typically does all the loan processing, underwriting, and closing in-house.

You may be able to negotiate underwriting or origination fees.

What Are the Cons of Working With a Direct Lender?

Comparing rates and terms on your own from a sample of lenders takes time.

You’re limited to the loan programs of the institutions where you decide to shop.

What Works for My Situation?

You’ve probably toyed with at least one home affordability calculator and gotten pre-approved for a loan.

Once you’ve found a home and your offer has been accepted, it’s decision time on a lender. You are not required to stay with the lender you used for pre-approval.

If you have a sparse credit history, subpar credit, or other challenges, a mortgage broker might be able to find a loan program that’s a good fit.

But if you have solid credit, a strong income, and assets, you may be able to save time and money by working with a direct lender.

What about rates? In weighing mortgage broker vs. bank, there might be no difference to speak of. The rate you’re offered depends more on your qualifications than on the lender.

The mortgage loan process can seem mysterious, and a broker or a loan officer at a direct lender can act as a loan seeker’s guide.

That guide should be willing to answer all of your mortgage questions, including those about points, fees, mortgage insurance, and the closing timetable.

You’ll receive loan estimates after applying. When comparing mortgage offers, it’s important to look at more than the interest rate. Be sure to compare APRs.

Look at the fees in the “loan costs” section, and compare closing costs.

Gain home-buying insights
with the latest housing
market trends.

The Takeaway

If you’re in the market for a mortgage, you might think the choice comes down to mortgage broker vs. direct lender. But you may get loan quotes from both and compare them. It’s called shopping, and a home is a rather important purchase.

You might find that the fixed-rate mortgage loans from SoFi stand up to the competition nicely.

Finance a primary home, second home, or investment property. Live large with a jumbo loan.

Get a personalized rate quote in a few clicks.

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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15 Ways to Keep Inflation from Blowing Your Home Reno Budget

15 Ways to Keep Inflation from Blowing Your Home Reno Budget

Global inflation and supply chain issues have derailed a lot of people’s post-COVID plans, including renovating or remodeling their homes. The cost of remodeling and renovating has risen partly because there’s a shortage of supplies, so retailers have raised prices on the supplies and materials they do have. Plus, the Federal Reserve Bank has raised interest rates in an effort to slow inflation, meaning home improvement loans cost more. This doesn’t necessarily mean homeowners must put off renovations, but it does mean that sticking to your home reno budget may require more creativity and planning.

How to Keep Inflation From Ruining Your Home Renovation Budget

Here are some strategies for keeping inflation from blowing your home reno budget:

1. Understand Renovation vs Remodel

People use the terms renovation and remodel interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. A renovation is fixing up what’s already there; a remodel is changing what’s there. That may mean expanding a room, or converting a pantry to a breakfast nook. Remodeling is usually more expensive because it is more involved and can include the need for permits, whereas renovations are often smaller projects that you can sometimes DIY. Before getting started with either, it can be smart to budget for the level of transformation you can reasonably afford in this economic climate.

2. Invest Wisely

One thing experts agree on is that the best home renovation or remodel investments are projects that can raise the value of a home at resale. Some of these projects include a kitchen or bathroom makeover, expanding outdoor space, and even just replacing the garage door. SoFi’s home improvement ROI calculator can help you identify some of these home investment opportunities.

3. Finance Carefully

Since you’re investing in your home, especially with the idea of improving its value, it’s smart to look for the right partner to help you strategize how to finance your project. It’s possible your project may be eligible for a home equity loan where you borrow against the value of your home for funds. Another financing option is a personal loan. Unlike the home equity loan, a personal loan for home improvement projects requires no collateral.

💡 Learn more about how home improvement loans work.

4. Have a Plan

Home renovation projects notoriously run over budget. Global supply chain issues are making that even worse. Many projects must happen according to a specific sequence, like receiving a delivery of plumbing supplies and scheduling workers before you gut the bathroom. If something goes wrong with the sequencing, it might mean you lose your workers to another job that’s ready to go, or you have to pay extra to expedite shipping. These hold ups can be expensive. That’s why it’s important to plan meticulously before you begin.

5. Be Flexible

Can’t get the Italian granite you were eyeing for the kitchen counters? What about slate, which can be a fourth of the price and can look just as stunning. Or Sintered Stone? Or steel? Deciding from the beginning to be flexible on the things you can, and uncompromising only on the materials or designs that really matter to you, can save you thousands.

6. Consider High Quality Items

Because there is generally lower demand for slightly higher quality and pricier items, those appliances and materials haven’t risen as much in price . So you might have an opportunity to get something you might have considered out of your price range for about the same as the more standard one.

7. Oversee the Project

The typical contractor fee for most general contractors to oversee renovation projects is 20% of the project , so if you’re planning a $50,000 remodel and you do the contracting yourself, you could save $10,000 right off the bat. But it will be your job to source and schedule the experts you need — plumbers, electricians, etc. — and oversee the work. Just remember: It’s not uncommon to pay to have a job done twice during renovations, so it’s wise to stay on top of workers if you choose this option.

8. Do Something Yourself

Using skills you already have, or picking up a few through online videos and in-person workshops, can save you some time and money. If you decide you can do the job yourself, and it isn’t one that requires permitting and licensing, you may be happy with your results. Doing it yourself does have its risks such as not ending up with the quality you could have by using a professional. On the other hand, if you have some skills, you might do a better job than a mediocre contractor who isn’t as invested in your home as you are.

9. Vet Your Craftsman

Hiring someone who does a poor job or damages your home is a common risk of home renovation projects. Shopping for carpenters, painters, plumbers, and others solely on the basis of price can very easily lead to problems, which can require more time and investment on your part to correct. Choosing a contractor that’s skilled and reliable requires taking the time to look at portfolios, ask questions, and seek recommendations and reviews.

10. Collect a few Bids

It can take more time, but getting bids from several different companies is a smart way to help keep your renovation costs low. Not only does this type of “shopping” give you options for how much you can pay for specific tasks, but it can also give you an idea of how different contractors would approach your project.

11. Shop Wisely

It can be easy to order items online or pick up everything from your local home remodeling store, but high shipping costs and limited in-store options can actually increase your expenditures. If you’re looking to minimize costs, settling for what’s most convenient isn’t likely to help you. Instead, taking the time to shop around thoroughly and think creatively about your renovation plans can help save you a bundle.

12. Price Match

If you find an appliance online that you really love, you may want to try bringing a copy of that ad to your local retailer, and asking them to match the deal. This way you not only save yourself shipping costs, but you also get the best price for the item you prefer.

13. Try Repurposing

Before you spend money replacing what you have, consider transforming your items instead. Perhaps you could refinish or paint your kitchen cabinets instead of replacing them. Changing the hardware and interior panels are also simpler options that can reflect your style. Sometimes small changes can result in big transformations.

14. Consider Salvaged Materials

You can sometimes save big using salvaged materials. Secondhand shops like Habitat ReStores can sell old kitchen cabinets, flooring, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, and furnishings for a fraction of the original sale price. You can even find unused paint, hardware, and art. For additional options, online sites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace can provide useful, previously used items as well.

15. Be Creative Side

Pinterest can be a great source of budget friendly renovation ideas. You can spend a few hundred dollars on a mason jar light fixture; or you could make your own. How about creating a room divider with used pallets? Necessity is often the mother of invention, and you may discover a creative side you didn’t know you had by looking for creative design solutions.

The Takeaway

Inflation and supply chain problems can make home renovations and remodeling on a budget much more challenging, but not impossible. If you choose the best projects for added value; plan and shop for materials and craftspeople with care; and are willing to be creative and flexible, you can wind up investing less money, time and worry.

If your home renovation budget is a tad bit short of your dream, a home improvement loan from SoFi could give you the extra boost you need. With no collateral, no fees and the opportunity for same-day funding, SoFi can help get your project up and running in no time.

Explore how a home improvement loan can kick off your home renovation.

Photo credit: iStock/LightFieldStudios

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.

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

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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Preapproved vs Prequalified: What’s the Difference?

What does it mean to be prequalified or preapproved for a mortgage? One lets a future homebuyer dream, and the other adds reality to the dream.

Here’s a look at how these two steps vary, how each can play a part in a home-buying strategy, and how one in particular can increase the chances of having a purchase offer accepted.

What Does Prequalified Mean?

Getting prequalified by phone or online usually takes just minutes.

You provide a few financial details to mortgage lenders. The lenders use this unverified information, usually along with a soft credit inquiry, which does not affect your credit scores, to let you know how much you may be able to borrow and at what interest rate.

Getting prequalified can give homebuyers a general idea of loan programs, the amount they may be eligible for, and what monthly payments might look like, the way a home affordability calculator provides an estimate based on a few factors.

You might want to get prequalified with several lenders to compare monthly payments and interest rates, which vary by mortgage term. But because the information provided has not been verified, there’s no guarantee that the mortgage or the amount will be approved.

What Does It Mean to Be Preapproved?

Everyone talks about what direction the housing market is taking, but the reality is that millions of Americans buy homes in any given year. They brush up on types of mortgage loans, and many face the probe known as mortgage preapproval.

Preapproval requires an investigation of your income sources, debts, employment history, assets, and credit history.

Verification of this information, along with a hard credit pull from all three credit bureaus, which may cause a small, temporary reduction in your credit scores, allows the lender to conditionally preapprove a mortgage before you shop for homes.

A preapproval letter from a lender stating that you qualify for a loan of a specific amount can be useful or essential in a competitive real estate market.

When sellers are getting multiple offers, some will disregard a purchase offer if it isn’t accompanied by a preapproval letter.

When seeking preapproval, besides filling out an application, you will likely be asked to submit the following to a lender for verification:

•   Social Security number and card

•   Photo ID

•   Recent pay stubs

•   Tax returns, including W-2 statements, for the past two years

•   Two to three months’ worth of documentation for checking and savings accounts

•   Recent investment account statements

•   List of fixed debts

•   Residential addresses from the past two years

•   Down payment amount and a gift letter, if applicable

The lender may require backup documentation for certain types of income. Freelancers may be asked to provide 1099 forms, a profit and loss statement, a client list, or work contracts. Rental property owners may be asked to show lease agreements.

You should be ready to explain any negative information that might show up in a credit check. To avoid surprises, you might want to order free credit reports from A credit report shows all balances, payments, and derogatory information but does not give credit scores.

Knowing your scores is also helpful. There are a few ways to check your credit scores without paying.

Those who have filed for bankruptcy may have to show documentation that it has been discharged.

Calculate Your Potential Mortgage

Use the following mortgage calculator to get an idea of what your monthly mortgage payment would look like.

Do Preapproval and Prequalification Affect Credit Scores?

Once you decide on a mortgage lender or lenders, you can begin the preapproval process.

Only preapproval requires a hard credit inquiry, but the good news for mortgage shoppers is that multiple hard pulls are typically counted as a single inquiry as long as they’re made within the same 14 to 45 days.

Newer versions of FICO® allow a 45-day window for rate shoppers to enjoy the single-inquiry advantage; older versions of FICO and VantageScore 3.0 narrow the time to 14 days.

You might want to ask each lender you apply with which credit scoring model they use.

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

Do I Have to Spend How Much I’m Preapproved for?

No! The preapproval amount is your maximum house-hunting budget. Staying well under that number can’t hurt and might free up money for more than mortgage payments.

Like what? Like a college fund, retirement, and vacations.

And like — groan — emergency home repairs.

Recommended: Guide to First-Time Home Buying

Are Prequalification and Preapproval the Same Thing?

By now you know that they are not one and the same. Here’s a visual on what’s needed for each:



Info about income Recent pay stubs
Basic bank account information Bank account numbers and/or recent bank statements
Down payment amount Down payment amount and desired mortgage amount
No tax information needed Tax returns and W-2s for past two years

Do I Need a Prequalification Letter to Buy a House?

No. Nor do you have to have a preapproval letter when making an offer on a house.

But getting prequalified can allow you to quickly get a ballpark figure on a mortgage amount and an interest rate you qualify for, and preapproval has at least three selling points:

1.    Preapproval lets you know the specific amount you are qualified to borrow from a particular lender.

2.    Going through preapproval before house hunting could take some stress out of the loan process by easing the mortgage underwriting step. Underwriting, the final say on mortgage approval or disapproval, comes after you’ve been preapproved, found a house you love and agreed on a price, and applied for the mortgage.

3.    Being preapproved for a loan helps to show sellers that you’re a vetted buyer.

The Takeaway

Prequalified vs. preapproved: If you’re serious about buying a house, do you know the difference? Getting prequalified and then preapproved may increase the odds that your house hunt will lead to a set of jangling keys.

SoFi offers a range of fixed rate mortgage loans with competitive rates and low down payment options.

Looking at investment properties? SoFi has loans for those, too.

It’s a snap to get prequalified and view your rate.

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.

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


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