Tax Loss Carryforward

Tax Loss Carryforward

A tax loss carryforward is a special tax rule that allows capital losses to be carried over from one year to another. In other words, an investor can take capital losses realized in the current tax year to offset gains or profits in a future tax year.

Investors can use a capital loss carryforward to minimize their tax liability when reporting capital gains from investments. Business owners can also take advantage of loss carryforward rules when deducting losses each year. Knowing how this tax provision works and when it can be applied is important from an investment tax savings perspective.

What Is Tax Loss Carryforward?

Tax loss carryforward, sometimes called capital loss carryover, is the process of carrying forward capital losses into future tax years. A capital loss occurs when you sell an asset for less than your adjusted basis. Capital losses are the opposite of capital gains, which are realized when you sell an asset for more than your adjusted basis.

Adjusted basis means the cost of an asset, adjusted for various events (i.e., increases or decreases in value) through the course of ownership.

Whether a capital gain or loss is short-term or long-term depends on how long you owned it before selling. Short-term capital losses and gains apply when an asset is held for one year or less, while long-term capital gains and losses are associated with assets held for longer than one year.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows certain capital losses, including losses associated with personal or business investments, to be deducted from taxable income.

There are limits on the amount that can be deducted each year, however, depending on the type of losses being reported. For example, the IRS allows investors to deduct up to $3,000 from their taxable income if the capital loss is from the sales of assets like stocks, bonds, or real estate. If capital losses exceed $3,000, the IRS allows investors to carry capital losses forward into future years and use them to reduce potential taxable income.

Recommended: SoFi’s Guide to Understanding Your Taxes

How Tax Loss Carryforwards Work

A tax loss carryforward generally allows you to report losses realized on assets in one tax year on a future year’s tax return. Realized losses differ from unrealized losses or gains, which are the change in an investment’s value compared to its purchase price before an investor sells it.

IRS loss carryforward rules apply to both personal and business assets. The main types of capital loss carryovers allowed by the Internal Revenue Code are capital loss carryforwards and net operating loss carryforwards.

Capital Loss Carryforward

IRS rules allow investors to “harvest” tax losses, meaning they use capital losses to offset capital gains. An investor could sell an investment at a capital loss, then deduct that loss against capital gains from other investments to reduce taxable income, assuming they don’t violate the wash-sale rule.

The wash-sale rule prohibits investors from buying substantially identical investments within the 30 days before or 30 days after the sale of a security for the purpose of tax-loss harvesting.

If capital losses are equal to capital gains, they will offset one another on your tax return, so there’d be nothing to carry over. For example, a $5,000 capital gain would cancel out a $5,000 capital loss and vice versa.

However, if capital losses exceed capital gains, investors can deduct a portion of the losses from their ordinary income to reduce tax liability. Investors can deduct the lesser of $3,000 ($1,500 if married filing separately) or the total net loss shown on line 21 of Schedule D (Form 1040). But any capital losses over $3,000 can be carried forward to future tax years, where investors can use capital losses to reduce future capital gains.

To figure out how to record a tax loss carryforward, you can use the Capital Loss Carryover Worksheet found on the IRS’ Instructions for Schedule D (Form 1040) .

Recommended: A Guide to Tax-Efficient Investing

Net Operating Loss Carryforward

A net operating loss (NOL) occurs when a business has more deductions than income. Rather than posting a profit for the year, the company operates at a loss. Business owners may be able to claim a NOL deduction on their personal income taxes. Net operating loss carryforward rules work similarly to capital loss carryforward rules in that businesses can carry forward losses from one year to the next.

According to the IRS, for losses arising in tax years after December 31, 2020, the NOL deduction is limited to 80% of the excess of the business’s taxable income. To calculate net operating loss deductions for your business, you first have to omit items that could limit your loss, including:

•   Capital losses that exceed capital gains

•   Nonbusiness deductions that exceed nonbusiness income

•   Qualified business income deductions

•   The net operating loss deduction itself

These losses can be carried forward indefinitely at the federal level.

Note, however, that the rules for NOL carryforwards at the state level vary widely. Some states follow federal regulations, but others do not.

How Long Can Losses Be Carried Forward?

According to IRS tax loss carryforward rules, capital and net operating losses can be carried forward indefinitely. Before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, business owners were limited to a 20-year window when carrying forward net operating losses.

It’s important to remember that capital loss carryforward rules don’t allow you to roll over losses. IRS rules state that you must use capital losses to offset capital gains in the year they occur. You can only carry capital losses forward if they exceed your capital gains for the year. The IRS also requires you to use an apples-to-apples approach when applying capital losses against capital gains.

For example, you’d need to use short-term capital losses to offset short-term capital gains. You couldn’t use a short-term capital loss to balance out a long-term capital gain or a long-term capital loss to offset a short-term capital gain. This rule applies because short- and long-term capital gains are subject to different tax rates.

Example of Tax Loss Carryforward

Assume that you purchase 100 shares of XYZ stock at $50 each for a total of $5,000. Thirteen months after buying the shares, their value has doubled to $100 each, so you decide to sell, collecting a capital gain of $5,000.

Suppose you also hold 100 shares of ABC stock, which have decreased in value from $70 per share to $10 per share over that same period. If you decide to sell ABC stock, your capital losses will total $6,000 – the difference between the $7,000 you paid for the shares and the $1,000 you sold them for.

You could use $5,000 of the loss of ABC stock to offset the $5,000 gain associated with selling your shares in XYZ to reduce your capital gains tax. Per IRS rules, you could also apply the additional $1,000 loss to reduce your ordinary income for the year.

Now, say you also have another stock you sold for a $6,000 loss. Because you already have a $1,000 loss and there is a $3,000 limit on deductions, you could apply up to $2,000 to offset ordinary income in the current tax year, then carry the remaining $4,000 loss forward to a future tax year, per IRS rules. This is an example of tax loss carryforward. All of this assumes that you don’t violate the wash-sale rule when timing the sale of losing stocks.

Recommended: What to Know about Paying Taxes on Stocks

The Takeaway

If you’re investing in a taxable brokerage account, you must include tax planning as part of your strategy. Selling stocks to realize capital gains could result in a larger tax bill if you’re not deducting capital losses at the same time. With tax-loss harvesting, assuming you don’t violate the wash sale rule, it’s possible to carry forward investment losses to help reduce the tax impact of gains over time. This applies to personal as well as business gains and losses. Thus, understanding the tax loss carryforward provision may help reduce your personal and investment taxes.

If you’re interested in building a portfolio with financial guidance, it may help to open an online brokerage account with SoFi Invest®. With SoFi, you can trade stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and fractional shares with no commissions. Even better, as a SoFi Member, you have access to financial professionals who can offer complimentary guidance and answer your most pressing investing questions.

Take a step toward reaching your financial goals with SoFi Invest.


Photo credit: iStock/bymuratdeniz

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The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Also, past performance is no guarantee of future results.
Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals, and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
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For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal. Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or prequalification for any loan product offered by SoFi Bank, N.A.
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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What Is a Student Loan Grace Period and How Long Is It?

As you prepare for life after graduation, one important step is figuring out whether you’re required to make monthly student loan payments right away or you have what’s called a “grace period.” The same question applies to students taking a break from full-time education.

Don’t forget: The pause on federal student loan payments and interest, announced in March 2020, is scheduled to expire in 2023, as late as 60 days after June 30, 2023.

Below, we’ll explain what a grace period is, when it starts, and how you might extend yours. You’ll also find a simple financial to-do list to tackle before you start making student loan payments.

What Is a Grace Period for Student Loans?

A student loan grace period is a window of time after a student graduates and before they must begin making loan payments. The intent of a grace period is to give new graduates a chance to get a job, get settled, select a repayment plan, and start saving a bit before their loan repayment kicks in. Most federal student loans have a grace period, as well as some private student loans.

Grace periods also apply when a student leaves school or drops below half-time enrollment. Active members of the military who are deployed for more than 30 days during their grace period may receive the full grace period upon their return.

How Long Is the Grace Period for Student Loans?

The grace period for federal student loans is typically six months. Some Perkins loans can have a nine-month grace period. When private lenders offer a grace period on student loans, it’s usually six months, too.

Keep in mind that, as noted above, not all student loans have grace periods.

Does My Student Loan Have a Grace Period?

Whether you have a grace period depends on what kind of loans you have. Student loans fall into two main buckets: federal and private student loans.

Federal Student Loans

Most federal student loans have grace periods.

•   Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans have a six-month grace period.

•   Grad PLUS loans technically don’t have a grace period. But graduate or professional students get an automatic six-month deferment after they graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment.

•   Parent Plus loans also don’t have a grace period. However, parents can request a six-month deferment after their child graduates, leaves school, or drops below half-time.

Keep in mind: Borrowers who consolidate their federal loans lose their grace period. Once your Direct Consolidation Loan is disbursed, repayment begins approximately two months later. And if you refinance, the terms are up to your new private lender.

Private Student Loans

The terms of private student loans vary by lender. Some private loans require that you make payments while you’re still in school. When private lenders do offer a grace period, it’s usually six months for undergraduates and nine months for graduate and professional students.

Here at SoFi, qualified private student loan borrowers can take advantage of a six-month grace period before payments are due. SoFi also honors existing grace periods on refinanced student loans.

If you’re not sure whether your private student loan has a grace period, check your loan documents or call your student loan servicer.

Recommended: Student Loan Forgiveness for Current Students

Does Interest Accrue During the Grace Period?

During the student loan payment pause, from March 2020 to a to-be-announced date in 2023, interest is not accruing on federal student loans. However, that’s not the way it usually works.

For most federal student loans, interest is charged during the grace period — even though you aren’t making payments on the loan. This interest is then added to your total loan balance (a process called “capitalization”), effectively leaving you to pay interest on your interest.

However, there’s good news on the capitalization front: Beginning in July 2023, new federal regulations will eliminate the capitalization of interest when a borrower first enters repayment. This can save borrowers a considerable amount of money on interest.

How to Make the Most of Your Student Loan Grace Period

If you are in a financially tight spot after you graduate or during your break from school, a student loan grace period can offer much-needed breathing room. Here’s how you can put your grace period to good use:

Get Your Finances in Order

Take this time to create a new post-grad budget. Which approach you use is up to you: the 70-20-10 Rule, the Kakeibo method, zero-based budgeting. The important thing is to determine your monthly income and expenses, setting aside enough to pay down debts and save a little.

Set Up Autopay

Missed loan payments can incur penalties and hurt your credit score. Setting up autopay means one less thing you have to remember. Some student loan lenders will even discount your interest rate for setting up automatic payments (like SoFi!).

Consider Making Payments Ahead of Time

Just because you don’t have to make payments toward student loans during a grace period doesn’t mean you can’t. If you are in a financial position to make payments — even interest-only payments — during a grace period, you should. It can help keep your loan’s principal balance from growing. (Learn more in our take on making minimum student loans payments.)

Look into Alternative Repayment Plans

Once your grace period is over, you’ll be automatically enrolled in the Standard Repayment plan. However, if you’re concerned about making your payments, several income-driven repayment plans are available. These plans reduce your payment to a small percentage of your disposable income — sometimes as low as $0. And beginning in 2023, these plans will become an even better deal.

Consider Consolidating or Refinancing Your Student Loans

These two terms are often used interchangeably, but there are important differences between them. Both consolidation and refinancing combine and replace existing student loans with a single new loan.

A Direct Consolidation Loan allows you to combine several federal student loans into one new federal loan. The resulting interest rate is the weighted average of prior loan rates, rounded up to the nearest ⅛ of a percent. However, as noted above, borrowers who consolidate their federal loans lose their grace period.

Student loan refinancing is when you consolidate your student loans with a private lender and receive new rates and terms. Your interest rate — which is hopefully lower — is determined by your credit history.

Can You Extend Your Student Loan Grace Period?

If your loan doesn’t qualify for a grace period or you want to extend your grace period, you have options. You may still delay your federal student-loan repayment through deferment and forbearance.

What’s the difference? Both are similar to a grace period in that you won’t be responsible for student loan payments for a length of time. The difference is in the interest.

When a loan is in forbearance, loan payments are temporarily paused, but interest will accrue during the forbearance period. This can lead to substantial increases in what you’ll pay for your federal loans over time. You’ll want to consider forbearance very carefully, and look into other options that might be available to you, like income-driven repayment plans .

While grace periods are automatic, you’ll need to request a student loan deferment or forbearance and meet certain eligibility requirements. In some cases — during a medical residency or National Guard activation, for example — a lender is required to grant forbearance.

The Takeaway

Federal student loan grace periods are typically six months from your date of graduation, during which you don’t have to make payments. Most federal student loans have grace periods (though sometimes they’re dubbed “deferments” instead). Private student loan terms vary by lender. However, some lenders, like SoFi, match federal grace periods for undergrad loans. During your grace period, you may want to make payments anyway, even interest-only payments, to prevent your balance from growing. The grace period is a good time to create a new budget, choose a repayment plan, and set up autopay. Although student loan payments and interest have been paused since March 2020, they are set to start up again in 2023.

If you have trouble making your payments, you have options, from income-driven repayment to consolidation to refinancing. It’s important to point out that refinancing federal student loans with a private lender, including SoFi, renders them ineligible for certain protections and benefits, like loan forgiveness and deferment.

If you want to find out whether refinancing your student loans could help you lower your monthly payments or reduce interest, you can take a look at SoFi’s Student Loan Refinance Calculator, which lets you plug and play various scenarios to see how you might benefit. If you’re ready to take that next step, checking your rate won’t affect your credit.

Learn more about managing your student loans with SoFi.


SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are looking to refinance federal student loans, please be aware that the White House has announced up to $20,000 of student loan forgiveness for Pell Grant recipients and $10,000 for qualifying borrowers whose student loans are federally held. Additionally, the federal student loan payment pause and interest holiday has been extended beyond December 31, 2022. Please carefully consider these changes before refinancing federally held loans with SoFi, since the amount or portion of your federal student debt that you refinance will no longer qualify for the federal loan payment suspension, interest waiver, or any other current or future benefits applicable to federal loans. If you qualify for federal student loan forgiveness and still wish to refinance, leave unrefinanced the amount you expect to be forgiven to receive your federal benefit.

CLICK HERE for more information.


Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.


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

Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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How to Buy a House Out of State

If you’re one of the millions of Americans working remotely, you might be tempted to buy a house out of state. Or maybe you just need a change of scenery.

Buying a house long distance can be a challenge, but it’s doable with a plan in place.

Why Buy a House in Another State?

There are multiple reasons to consider a house in a different state. Here are some.

Affordability

People may be lured by the cost of living of a state and its quality of life.

More than 350,000 people left California from April 2020 to January 2022 for Arizona, Texas, Florida, Washington, and other states. In the first half of 2022, New York City, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., saw more people exit than move in.

Job Relocation

Some companies move personnel out of state, and some employees are good with that. A recent Graebel report exploring the Great Resignation found that 70% of knowledge workers who resigned in the past two years may have stayed if they’d been offered the same role in a different region of the country.

Family Reasons

Some folks choose to buy a house out of state to be closer to parents, children, or grandchildren. And people in their 40s may have aging parents and financial concerns on their minds.

Retirement

Americans entering retirement may want to buy a home in a state where the weather and lifestyle are more appealing. When it comes to a home, some may want to downsize.

How to Purchase a Home in Another State

Buying a house from out of state may be a challenge, but people do do it.

It can be tough to buy a house if you have a house and a mortgage. Homeowners have been known to use a home equity loan or bridge loan to fund the down payment on another house.

A personal loan can fund travel and moving costs.

If you’re ready to move on, it might be a good idea to sell and maybe ask for a leaseback. If you’re in a hurry, learn how to sell a house fast.

1. Virtually Explore

It’s easy to research cities, states, and communities online. There’s a listicle for most everything. And data is everything, some say. There’s probably a listicle about why data is everything.

Anyway, maybe you’re interested in the safest cities in the U.S.

Or the 50 most popular suburbs.

It can be helpful to explore housing market trends by city.

Areavibes, BestPlaces, and HomeSnacks provide rankings or information. Coldwell Banker introduced Move Meter, to compare locations across the country. Or you could use Google Maps or Google Earth to study an out-of-state home’s proximity to schools, medical centers, law enforcement agencies, parks, and restaurants.

2. Link Up to Social Media

Social media platforms like Facebook Groups and Nextdoor can provide a personal sense of home buying and community.

These groups are user friendly to newcomers, and many group members are happy to answer questions about life in their city or town.

3. Ask Co-Workers, Friends, or Family

If you’re moving out of state for a job, check in with future co-workers for advice about the homes and neighborhoods. If you’re moving near friends or family members, pick their brains. Is this going to be a good spot for you?

Moving is stressful enough. If you’re one of the growing number of people interested in financially downsizing, you may want to just exhale and enjoy when you land.

4. Consider Talking to a Relocation Specialist

Yes, home relocation professionals exist. And they do everything from connecting clients with a real estate agent to finding a long-distance moving company, scouring school districts, securing a storage space, and supervising a contractor’s work if the client is buying or building a house.

Relocation companies can also suggest local service providers and transport pets and vehicles across state lines.
Relocation services are often free of charge because the specialists earn their money from third-party vendors like real estate firms and employers transferring employees.

If you’re not inclined to hire a relocation specialist, here’s some helpful reading before making a big move:

•   7 common moving expenses

•   How to move across the country

•   How to move to another state

•   The ultimate moving checklist

You can look into the safety record of carriers on the U.S. Department of Transportation website.

5. Find a Reliable Real Estate Agent

A brave few who are interested in buying a house out of state opt to go without an agent.

It’s true that you can buy a house without a Realtor® — but even a local home sale may be challenging without a buyer’s agent in your corner.

Partnering with an experienced real estate agent who is based in the area where you hope to move could be highly beneficial.

Besides familiarity with neighborhoods, schools, and vibe, a buyer’s agent can walk a future homebuyer through local zoning regulations and the permit process.

6. Consider Visiting IRL

It’s not that rare to buy a house sight unseen. That can work out.

But someone looking to buy a house in a new state may want a real visit. You may receive short notice on a viewing date, so it could be helpful to budget for out-of-state travel as part of the buildup to buying a home in another state.

While a real estate agent can act as a proxy for homebuyers, there may be nothing like being onsite during the home inspection of a property you’ve made an offer on.

Then again, if you adore a property and must have it, you might waive some contingencies in the case of multiple offers.

7. Get Preapproved for a Mortgage

It can be easier to find a real estate agent or relocation specialist with a mortgage preapproval letter in hand.

When a lender preapproves a mortgage (a credit check and a review of financial assets is typical), it is tentatively greenlighting a specific home loan amount at a particular interest rate, which is not locked unless the lender offers a lock.

Obtaining preapproval tells home sellers that you’re qualified for a home loan up to a certain amount.

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


8. Handle the Closing Online?

Get ready, because closing on a house may take only 20 or 30 days.

In some cases, everyone huddles to sign closing paperwork. Other times, buyers and sellers sign separately.

But most states have approved remote online notarization, when buyers join a video call, present their government-issued IDs to a title company rep and a notary, and sign all paperwork electronically.

The Takeaway on Buying a Home in a New State

Buying a house out of state requires investigation and probably a good real estate agent. Getting preapproved for a mortgage can ease the path to a new address.

Transferred workers or people with mere wanderlust will want to see the financing options SoFi offers. With SoFi, you can look into a fixed-rate mortgage loan or a home equity loan to buy a house out of state, and a personal loan to make the move.

Get prequalified for a mortgage quickly and see your rate.


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.
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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How Long Is a Mortgage Preapproval Letter Good For?

A mortgage preapproval letter is usually good for 30 to 90 days, and some lenders will lock the rate for that time.

Having a letter of preapproval from a financial institution can help ensure that you’re ready to snap up a home you love.

What Is Mortgage Preapproval?

Mortgage preapproval has become an essential part of the home-buying process. Real estate agents often want to see a preapproval letter before showing houses.

And a letter shows sellers that you are serious about buying their home — even if you’re a first-time homebuyer — and that a mortgage lender is likely to give you a home loan of a specific amount quickly.

The lender will review your credit history, credit score, income, debts, and assets to determine the amount you tentatively qualify for.

Preapproval will help you focus on homes that are in your price range. Knowing how much of a mortgage you can afford is important when you can’t afford to waste time reviewing homes outside your range.

Mortgage Preapproval Process

The mortgage process starts informally for many would-be homebuyers.

Some buy into the 28% rule — spend no more than 28% of gross monthly income on a mortgage payment — and play with calculators like this home affordability calculator or the one later in this article.

Seeking mortgage preapproval means you’re getting serious. First, you’ll need to understand the different types of mortgage loans — fixed rate, adjustable rate, conventional, government insured (FHA, VA, USDA), jumbo — and what you can qualify for.

Then you’ll need to apply for a loan from one to several lenders and provide a good deal of documentation. Each lender will perform a hard credit inquiry, and you’ll receive a loan estimate within three business days.

If you’re shopping for a home loan, allowing multiple mortgage companies to check your credit within 14 or 45 days, depending on the credit scoring model being used, will minimize the hit to your credit scores.

How Long Does It Take to Get Preapproved?

It usually takes seven to 10 business days to receive a preapproval letter after submitting all the requested information.

Mortgage Preapproval Letter

Other than stating the specific amount you’re preapproved for, a mortgage preapproval letter may outline stipulations to gain the loan, such as maintaining your employment or not taking on any additional debt.

How Long Does Mortgage Preapproval Last?

Some lenders will make a commitment of 60 or 90 days. That time frame tends to work, since homebuyers typically shop for a home for eight weeks, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Other lenders will issue preapproval for only 30 or 45 days.

Recommended: How Mortgage APR Works

Mortgage Prequalification vs. Mortgage Preapproval

Since they sound similar, it’s worth mapping out the difference between prequalification and preapproval.
Prequalification is a key first step, when borrowers tell lenders about their income, assets, and debts. Lenders use that unverified information, and usually a soft credit inquiry, to give a ballpark estimate of how much they might be willing to lend.

The response is quick: You can often get prequalified immediately or within a day or two. Just realize that prequalification does not mean that a lender is guaranteeing a loan.

The mortgage preapproval process is a deeper dive and requires documentation.

To gauge whether you qualify for a mortgage, lenders will scrutinize:

•   Income: Employees will need to provide pay stubs, W-2s, and tax returns from the past two years, as well as documentation of any additional income, such as work bonuses. Self-employed workers often need two years’ worth of records and a year-to-date profit and loss statement, although many lenders and loan programs are flexible.

•   Assets and liabilities: You’ll need to provide proof of savings, investment accounts, and any properties. Lenders view assets as proof that you can afford your down payment and closing costs and still have cash reserves.

Lenders also look at monthly debt obligations to calculate your debt-to-income ratio.

•   Credit score: Your credit score is a three-digit representation of your credit history.

Recommended: What Is Considered a Bad Credit Score?

Once your lender has reviewed the information, it may offer a preapproval letter. Importantly, receiving preapproval from a lender does not obligate you to use them.

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


Estimate Your Mortgage Payment

Before you seek prequalification or preapproval, you might want to get an idea of how much your monthly mortgage payment could be. Use the mortgage calculator below to quickly see the difference in mortgage payments based on down payment, interest rate, and a 15- or 30-year term.

What Should I Do If My Mortgage Preapproval Expires?

Lenders put an expiration date on preapproval letters because they need to have your most up-to-date financial information on hand. The credit, income, debt, and asset items they reviewed for your preapproval typically need to be updated after the letter expires, and your credit may be checked again.

You can minimize the effect of “hard pulls” on your credit score by avoiding seeking a renewal when you’re not actively shopping for a home.

If your finances have mostly stayed the same, your lender is likely to renew your preapproval.

Finalizing Your Mortgage

If you find a house while your mortgage preapproval is still valid, you can choose a lender and move on to finalizing your mortgage application. At this point, in many cases, the lender will check again to see if there have been any changes in your financial situation.

The mortgage underwriter will review all the information, order an appraisal of the chosen property and a title report, and consider your down payment. Then comes the verdict: approved, suspended (more documentation is needed), or denied.

Your mortgage is officially approved when you receive a final commitment letter. A closing date can be scheduled. It generally takes 48 days to close on a house, but it could happen in as little as 20 days.

Buyers may want to minimize changes, like applying for other loans or credit, when a home loan is in underwriting.

The Takeaway

How long is mortgage preapproval good for? Often 30 to 90 days. Getting prequalified is a good precursor to getting preapproved for a mortgage.

If you’re ready to start house hunting, check out the fixed-rate mortgages SoFi offers and the current deals.

Get prequalified for a SoFi Mortgage in minutes.


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.
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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The Cost of Buying a Fixer-Upper

It’s not your imagination: Buying a home has gotten more expensive over the last couple of years. In the fall of 2021, the Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price index rose a stunning 18.6% in a single year. Adding to the high cost of homeownership is the fact that home loan rates also soared. In the fall of 2022, the average interest rate on 30-year mortgages was 6.12%, while a year earlier, it was a super low 3.03%. In other words, you’re going to pay a lot more for both a house and the money you borrow to fund the purchase.

These economic fluctuations are among the reasons that many people are contemplating buying a fixer-upper. They hope to find a lower-priced house that they can rehab (or pay someone else to renovate) in order to own a piece of the American Dream for less.

However, though buying a fixer-upper home may seem like an enticingly affordable option, the cost of remodeling it could wind up being more than you’d planned.

Just how much does it cost to fix up a house? Let’s break down the most common costs associated with gutting a house and remodeling, so you can make an informed buying decision. Read on to learn:

•   What’s a fixer-upper?

•   What are the pros vs. cons of buying a fixer-upper?

•   How can you plan to renovate a home?

•   How much will a fixer-upper really cost?

•   How can you fund fixing up a home?

What Is a Fixer-Upper?

What exactly is a fixer-upper? It’s a home that’s in need of significant work. In many cases, these are older houses with much deferred maintenance or simply a lot of dated, well-worn features.

A fixer-upper might be a home from 100 years ago with an insufficient electrical and heating system, as well as a roof in need of replacement. Or it could be an apartment with a very old and dated kitchen and bathrooms. These residences might be livable, but they require an infusion of cash and work to make them comfortable by today’s standards.

Pros and Cons of Buying a Fixer-Upper

Buying a fixer-upper home has upsides and downsides. For some people, a fixer-upper can be a terrific way to enter the ranks of homeownership. For others, it could wind up being a frustrating source of bills and stress.

First, let’s consider the pros of buying a fixer-upper:

•   Lower price. This can make it easier to become a homeowner.

•   Lesser competition. Many home-shoppers may shy away from taking on this kind of project.

•   Control. The ability to renovate a home to suit your taste.

•   Profit. The opportunity to flip, or resell, the home and make money by doing so.

In terms of negatives, consider these points:

•   Money required to renovate. Although you may be able to buy a fixer-upper at a bargain price, you’ll have to come up with funds for the renovation.

•   Going over budget. Often, when renovations get underway, you’ll hit unexpected situations that require more money to properly complete the job.

•   Taking longer than expected. Closely related to the point above about going over budget financially is the fact that remodeling may take longer than anticipated, which can create issues.

•   Living in a construction site. If you occupy the home as work is done, it can be an uncomfortable experience.

Recommended: Things to Budget for After Buying a Home

Decide If This Is Your Home or a Flip

Many times, people looking to buy a fixer-upper home are in it for the short game of a flip. This means they are hoping to purchase a home well under market value, make a few renovations, and then quickly sell the home for a profit. And that’s all good—you just need to decide which camp you’re in.

If you are hoping to flip a house and make some money, know what you are getting into. As mentioned above, renovations can run over budget and take longer than scheduled. If all you are planning on doing to a house is refresh the paint and flooring and stage it beautifully, things may work out fine. But if you get started on structural work and discover a bigger issue than anticipated, it could wreck your budget for reselling the property. That’s why it’s vital to get a thorough home inspection before you buy a fixer-upper. It’s also wise to walk through with a contractor (if you plan on hiring one) before purchase to size up costs; you’ll learn more about the potential price tag of renovations in a minute.

If you’re planning on buying a fixer-upper home and making it your forever home, you might have a longer timeline to make upgrades. You could tackle the kitchen one year; then redo the bathrooms the next. This could be easier on your budget, but it might mean living amid construction for a while.

And, of course, you don’t get the potential cash infusion by selling the home at a profit, which is the goal of many people who are searching for a fixer-upper. You do get a lovingly restored home to call your own, quite likely at a good price, which can be an excellent reward.

Recommended: How Much House Can I Afford Based on My Income?

Do Your Homework Before You Buy

It’s crucial to add up all the costs of potential renovations before you buy a fixer-upper house. You don’t want the dream of wanting your own home to cloud your judgment about the work that’s needed. If you don’t do a deep dive on pricing before you buy, you may end up in your own version of “The Money Pit” movie.

Consider the following:

•   Assess the upfront cost of the home and add up all potential material and labor needs — think both big and small, like plumbers, electricians, carpenters, all the way down to any new doorknobs you’ll buy along the way. Then, subtract that from the home’s renovated market value. Would this still be a profitable venture?

•   Keep in mind that inflation is currently running high so prices could get higher than what you believe they will cost during the time you are renovating.

•   It’s important to allow room in your budget and your timeline for overages. It’s not uncommon for home renovations to cost more and take longer than anticipated. It’s wise to have at least 3% to 5% extra in your budget (if not more) to cover additional costs, and wiggle room in your timing, too.

Recommended: How Do Home Improvement Loans Work?

Preparing to Invest in Home Renovations

Each home renovation is unique. If you buy a fixer-upper house, the price of rehabbing it can vary tremendously. One house might need new appliances, the walls painted, and the floors sanded. Another might need a new roof and a cracked foundation fixed…plus an electrical upgrade. The size of the home, its age, its location, and condition will all impact how much you’ll need to spend.

But, to give you a ballpark on costs, here are some statistics from Angi, the home renovation and repair site:

•   Renovating a three-bedroom home can cost between $20,000 and $100,000 on average.

•   Renovation costs are typically between $15 and $60 per square foot overall.

•   Remodeling a kitchen or bathroom can cost $100 to $250 per square foot.

•   A kitchen renovation costs $25,000 on average, and a bathroom remodel runs $10,000, but costs can run significantly higher depending on choice of materials, fixtures, and the like. renovation will be different, Realtor.com provides a general cost breakdown for different remodel hypotheticals.

Keep in mind that pricing may be higher if you live in or near a major city, as well.

Recommended: 6 Tips for Doing Home Addition Projects the Right Way

Common Fixer Upper Project Costs

Kitchen Remodels

According to HomeAdvisor’s 2022 data, the average cost of a kitchen remodel currently sits at $25,000, but costs can range from $5,000 to $65,000 or more.

The three elements that contribute most to cost are the countertops, cabinets, and flooring. The more you lean into custom and luxury options, the higher the price will go.

Bathroom Renovation

The average bathroom renovation ranges from $3,000 for small cosmetic updates to $30,000 for a complete gut do-over, with the average price tag coming in at $11,000. A big expense is moving the plumbing lines. If you can keep the layout as-is, you’ll save up to 50%.

Roof Installation

A roof should typically last two to three decades on a home — or longer if you choose the right material. The average cost for replacing a roof is about $8,000, but that will vary with the size of the home and the material you choose.

For instance, if you opt for a premium product, like slate, you’ll find that the average costs for a 3,000-square-foot roof can be $30,000.

Recommended: How to Buy Homeowners Insurance

How to Handle the Cost of a Fixer Upper

These numbers can seem overwhelming, but remember, you’re bringing out your home’s maximum potential, whether for you to enjoy or to capitalize on via a future sale.

You have a few options for how to finance the renovation of a fixer-upper:

•   You could put less money down and take out a larger mortgage. This would allow you to have some cash on hand to pay for the remodeling.

•   You can buy the house and then take out a home improvement loan, which is a kind of personal loan used to finance your home projects.

•   You could purchase the fixer-upper and then apply for a home equity line of credit, or HELOC. These are revolving lines of credit that may offer attractive terms (low interest, long repayment) but keep in mind you are using your home’s equity as collateral. You typically need 15% to 20% equity in your home to qualify.

•   Another option that’s similar to a HELOC is a home equity loan. The difference is that a home equity loan typically distributes a sum of money, which is repaid in installments over a period of time.

The Takeaway

A fixer-upper can be a good investment for some home shoppers, whether they want to renovate the home and live in it or sell it at a profit. However, it’s important to evaluate your costs up front, before signing a contract, to make sure you don’t wind up with a money pit and can make your renovation dreams come true.

One thing that can help you afford your fix-it-up plans is a SoFi home improvement loan. They offer the winning combination of no fees, same-day funding in many situations, and loan amounts of $5,000 to $100,000. What’s more, these are unsecured loans, meaning you’re not required to put up collateral against the loan. And with fixed monthly payments, you can better plan for the road ahead. Now, all you need is a hammer and you’re ready to go.

Thinking about renovating a fixer-upper? SoFi personal loans can help you turn your new purchase into a dream home.

3 Home Loan Tips

1.    Some pointers to keep in mind if you’re considering a home improvement loan, which is a kind of personal loan:
Before agreeing to take out a personal loan from a lender, you should know if there are origination, prepayment, or other kinds of fees. If you get a personal loan from SoFi, there are no fees.

2.    In a climate where interest rates are rising, you’re likely better off with a fixed interest rate than a variable rate, even though the variable rate is initially lower. On the flip side, if rates are falling, you may be better off with a variable interest rate.

3.    Just as there are no free lunches, there are no guaranteed loans. So beware lenders who advertise them. If they are legitimate, they need to know your creditworthiness before offering you a loan.


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.
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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