How Much Does It Cost to Finish an Attic?

How Much Does It Cost to Finish an Attic?

The longer you live in your house, the more obvious it may become that you could use more living space — perhaps for a guest bedroom, home office, or workout space. Your first thought might be to build an addition, but the sticker shock may cause you to shelve that idea and instead consider an attic conversion.

Fortunately, an attic conversion is an idea that may be more economical than a complete home addition. Read on for a full breakdown of the cost to finish an attic.

Should You Convert Your Attic Space?

There are many benefits of converting an attic into usable space, including:

•   The space already exists in your home, making this choice both cost- and time-effective.

•   You don’t need to pour a foundation, again making it a more viable and economical option.

•   Wiring is likely already in place and can be modified to suit your needs.

An attic conversion also allows you to use the entire envelope of your home, rather than wasting potential living space.

Before you fully commit to your attic remodel, though, it’s crucial to make sure your attic has the potential to become a usable living space (more on that below).

Tips on Converting an Attic

One of the first things you might do before converting your attic is to see if your roof is being supported by W-shaped trusses in your attic. If so, building an addition might be a better choice. If your attic contains A-shaped rafters, though, that’s a plus; if there’s enough open space beneath the rafters, then you can potentially convert your attic into usable space.

Other steps to take before an attic remodel include:

•   Check your local building codes to make sure your remodel will fit. The rules vary by area but a typical requirement is that the attic space must be at least 7.5 feet high and over 50% of the floor area. The thickness of the material will also factor into the final headroom and ceiling height. The quickest way to add significant costs to your attic remodel is to be forced to change course mid-project because of a code violation.

•   Determine how you’ll get into the space. Will you need to add a staircase or expand the current one? Stairs that go straight up will need more floor space than, say, spiral staircases. Or perhaps your only option is a pull-down access point; this will limit what furniture and materials you can fit into your attic conversion and how utilitarian the new living space might be.

•   Consider whether you’ll need to add windows. If you’re creating an additional bedroom, codes may require an egress window in case of fires. But even if they aren’t required, you might consider adding windows or punching skylights that open to brighten the space with natural light.

•   Decide how much flooring needs to be reinforced, along with any electrical or plumbing issues. If you ultimately decide that your attic has what’s needed for a successful conversion, it’s time to think both practically and creatively to shape what may well become the most interesting — and potentially challenging — room in your house.

•   Consider your priorities and budget. Once you get a sense of costs (listed below) and what’s most important to you, you’ll want to come up with a budget and a plan for how you’ll pay for the upgrade. If you don’t have enough cash to cover the project, you may want to explore financing. Funding options for finishing an attic include using a credit card (generally the most expensive route), getting a home improvement loan (a type of unsecured personal loan designed for small to mid-sized home renovations), or applying for a home equity loan or line of credit (which uses your home as collateral for the loan).

•   Consult with a professional unless you’re already an experienced builder. Ask friends, family members, and building associations for recommendations and referrals, then request quotes from at least three contractors to understand both possibilities and associated costs. When you contact contractors, ask them for credentials. Compare bids and, tempting as it may be, don’t automatically choose the lowest one. Make sure the contractor describes what will be provided as well as the estimated time frame.

Want to know how much value your attic conversion will bring to the table? Check out SoFi’s Home Project Value Estimator.

How Much Does It Cost to Finish an Attic per Square Foot?

On average, you can expect to pay between $10,600 to $50,000 — or $50 and $150 per square foot — to refinish your attic, according to Angie (formerly Angie’s List). A specialized or high-end attic conversion can cost as much as $200 per square foot.

Overall, costs vary depending on the overall square footage and the materials you use.

How Much Does It Cost to Finish an Attic per Task?

If you hire individual contractors for each aspect of your attic remodel, then it’s easy to see what each portion of the remodel is costing you. However, if you hire a contractor to manage the entire project, you likely won’t receive the project broken down into great detail.

What follows is a breakdown of common costs involved in an attic renovation.

Cost of Walls and Ceilings

New walls and ceilings can effectively transform an unfinished attic into a space that’s both comfortable and livable. Although prices vary by where you live, attic drywall can cost an average of $1,000 to $2,600 to install, with ceilings costing anywhere from $200 to $12,000.

Other aspects to consider: Will you paint the walls and ceilings? Add wallpaper? Do you need trim and crown molding? All of these features will be additional costs and can quickly cause your project budget to skyrocket.

Cost of Flooring

Flooring is another important consideration, so first think about what’s located directly below the attic space. Do you need soundproofing? If a bedroom is located below the attic space, you’ll likely want some sound control. Insulation provides that to some degree, and carpeting adds even more dampening.

The cost of attic flooring will depend on the current state of the attic and what materials you choose. Replacing floor joists to beef up the strength will cost anywhere between $1,000 and $10,000, while installing subfloor will run between $500 and $800. Installing the flooring itself averages between $1,531 and $4,848, depending on material and square footage.

Recommended: Renovation vs. Remodel

Cost of Windows and Skylights

If there currently are no windows in your attic, you may want to add an egress window, which will run you between around $800 and $2,400, as a safety precaution. You also might want windows or skylights to brighten the space with natural light. Expect to pay an average of $2,500 – $5,500 to install an attic window, and $1,000 to $2,400 to add a skylight.

Recommended: How Much Does It Cost to Replace Windows?

Cost of Heating and Cooling

Your attic conversion might require additional heating and cooling. The price to install an attic fan is around $400 to $900, and a standard window AC costs about $150 to $800 per unit. A skillful contractor could also potentially tie in your current climate control system.

For heat, baseboard heaters run $942 on average. If you need to add HVAC ductwork and vents to extend your home’s AC and central heating systems to the attic, you can, expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000.

If your attic is difficult to access during the renovation period, contractors may tack on a surcharge. To get an idea of how much your attic renovation will cost, you may want to use an online home improvement cost calculator.

How Much Does It Cost to Finish an Attic Yourself?

It’s generally cheaper to go the DIY route than to hire a professional — though you will need some know-how. If you’re making minor improvements to your attic space (such as adding an attic fan and cleaning it up, you may be looking at an attic remodel cost as low as $300. However, if you’re looking to make a total transformation, your costs for materials could run as high as $50,000.

Though you’ll certainly save on labor costs, make sure to take into account the time involved if you decide to do it yourself as opposed to bringing in a professional.

Recommended: Four Ways to Upgrade Your Home

How Much Does It Cost to Finish an Attic by Type?

How much it costs to finish an attic will also vary depending on the type of attic space you’re creating. Here’s a look at how much an attic remodel costs by attic type.

Cost of Finishing a Walk-Up Attic

The cost of finishing a walk-up attic generally ranges anywhere from $8,100 and $26,000. Large portions of the costs are typically adding a staircase and installing flooring.

Finishing an Attic as a Storage Space

If you’re finishing an attic to serve as a storage space, your costs are generally a little lower as there isn’t as much polishing involved. Generally, the attic remodel cost for a storage space runs from $4,600 for a simpler setup to $18,900 if the space is larger and you opt for more elaborate storage systems.

Cost to Finish an Attic With a Dormer

Installing a dormer — a window that juts out vertically on a sloped roof — can add in some ceiling height and natural sunlight into an attic. However, it will set you back. On average, the cost to add in a dormer along with finishing the attic can run between $8,800 and $32,400.

Cost to Finish an Attic Above a Garage

The cost to finish an attic above a garage can vary widely depending on what’s involved, such as the installation of heating, insulation, or ventilation. You can typically expect to pay anywhere from $4,600 up to $24,000.

Recommended: Garage Conversion Ideas Worth the Effort

What Factors Influence the Cost of Finishing an Attic?

As you may have guessed from the wide-ranging estimates above, the cost of finishing an attic can vary a lot depending on what’s involved and what materials you use. Here a look at some major factors that can affect how much it costs to finish an attic.

•   Square footage: How large your attic is will play a big role in the total costs involved in remodeling. The bigger an attic is, the more materials required and the more time it will take to finish it, which translates to additional labor costs.

•   Need for structural changes: You’ll also pay extra if your attic is an odd shape or difficult to access. These challenges could call for structural updates, such as the addition of height, the expansion of space, or the creation of a staircase.

•   Intended use: Your planned purpose for your attic will also influence cost. If you just want to add in some additional storage space, you’ll pay a lot less than if you plan to install a full suite complete with a bedroom, bathroom, and closet.

•   Extra features desired: Perhaps unsurprisingly, the more features you want in your newly remodeled attic, the more it will cost you. Big-ticket items include windows, electricity, plumbing, and heating and cooling.

Of course, another factor that influences your cost is whether you need to get financing for the project and, if so, what terms you’re able to secure.

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The Takeaway

An attic conversion can be one way to create a unique room and add more usable space to your home. It also tends to be more economical than adding an addition to your house. There are a lot of technical aspects to consider, and before getting started, it’s best to check with your local building department so you know any building or permit requirements upfront. You can then come up with a project wishlist and start soliciting bids from at least three contractors.

At the same time, you’ll want to determine if you’ll pay cash or finance all or some of the project. One financing option you might consider for an attic renovation is an unsecured personal loan. Offered by banks, credit unions, and online lenders, rates are typically lower than credit cards. And unlike a home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC), you don’t need to use your home as collateral to qualify.

SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best 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 SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


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

Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

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 to save for your dream wedding

How To Save For Your Dream Wedding

Getting married can be a pricey proposition, with the average wedding in the U.S. now running $35,000. If you don’t have access to a large stockpile of cash, you may think you’ll never be able to afford the kind of wedding you envision. But that’s not necessarily the case. The key is to start budgeting and saving well ahead of the big day.

Whether you long for a fairy tale wedding or you prefer something more scaled back, there are ways to save for your dream day that will ensure you have the magical moment you’ve always wanted without having to start off your marriage mired in debt.

Set a Budget

Do you want a big lavish wedding worthy of the royals? A destination wedding? Or maybe you want something more intimate with just a few friends and family? There are different levels of spending when it comes to weddings, and deciding what is most important to you can help you determine just how much you’ll need to save.

Is the venue a priority? The number of people? The food? The DJ (or band)? It’s smart to start by making a list and getting a solid estimate of the costs for each of your need-to-haves and your want-to-haves. It’s also wise to leave a little wiggle room for unexpected wedding costs. Little things like the marriage license, dress or suit alterations, and even insurance costs, can start to eat into your budget pretty quickly.

Start a Savings Plan

Before you’ve locked in the date, you and your partner can start a savings plan. Some couples open a separate bank account and set up automatic monthly transfers to that account to build their wedding fund. When savings are automated, you often don’t notice the missing funds. And by picking an account with a competitive interest rate, your money can make money while you continue to plan and save.

If you’re thinking about financing part of your wedding, you’ll want to start investigating your options, which can range from credit cards to personal loans (which typically have lower rates than credit cards), early on and weigh the pros and cons of taking on debt.

Put the Wedding First

Sure, you may want to go on vacation, eat at fancy restaurants, and buy those new clothes, but that will put you further from your goal. Instead of spending on those luxuries now, cutting back and putting that money into your shared dream wedding account can help you get to your savings goal quicker.

There are also some simple ways to cut back that won’t make you feel deprived. For example, you can take local day trips or regional vacations instead of traveling afar. Eating out just once a month and cooking at home more can cut costs. You could even get swanky and hold cocktail hour with friends at your house instead of going to happy hour. Your new bank account will thank you.

Recommended: The Cost of Being in Someone’s Wedding

Do It Yourself

One way to keep wedding costs down is to plan the majority of the wedding yourself. If you already have experience managing projects, then this should be within the realm of your abilities. Researching the typical steps and fees associated with weddings before making any concrete decisions can be helpful. If that feels daunting, you may want to keep in mind that wedding planners cost an average of $2,100. And while there are advantages to using a planner (they already have a contact list of professionals and know their rates, saving you a lot of time and energy), the downside is you could be getting a one-size-fits-all experience instead of the personalized ceremony and party you may want.

Recommended: 8 Tips for a Budget Dream Wedding with Budget Breakdown

Comparison Shop

Just like other big expenses, getting more than one quote for each service you need can help you find the best price point to fit your needs and wants. Does your preferred venue charge a premium for a wedding, but a lower price for a party? You may want to consider negotiating the price. Calling multiple DJs and catering services can help you ensure you are not overpaying. New York City is going to have very different rates than, say, Asheville, North Carolina. This might even be a factor in deciding when to have your wedding, too. For a better idea of how much costs can vary, you can check out this comparison of costs by state .

You can wind up saving a ton of money by doing away with an expensive venue altogether and looking for a free or really inexpensive location, like parks, gardens and even beaches.

And if you’re able to hold your celebration on a weekday or during off-season, you’re likely to find some additional savings. For example, you can pick Friday instead of Saturday; or you can have a fall or winter event to help lower your costs.

Reassess the Dress

Maybe your dream wedding includes a Vera Wang gown, but your bank account can’t swing that. Consider shopping for a vintage dress and having it altered. Or if you want a more modern look, you don’t necessarily have to buy brand new — wedding dresses are usually only worn once and then either sit in the back of a closet or get sold or donated. Resellers often offer beautiful dresses at a fraction of the initial cost.

Consider this: Dresses less than three years old are usually sold for half their original price. And that Vera Wang might not be out of reach after all if you buy it used. Designer brands can sell for 60% to 70% of their original cost.

Recommended: What is the Ideal Wedding Budget?

Where not to Cut Costs

While you might not have much of an appetite on your big day, your guests likely will, so it’s a good idea not to scrimp on the food. It doesn’t have to be a five-star, multi-course meal, but if you want to create a memorable experience for all, it’s smart to offer quality food that doesn’t leave anyone grumbling about “wedding food.”

And what good is a dream wedding if you have bad or no photos to remember it? A good photographer can capture all of the moments of both you and your guests. These are photos that you will cherish when you are older and wiser, that will adorn your dresser and be sent out to family, so skimping here is best avoided if you can. The average cost of a wedding photographer is about $2,900, but It could end up being the best you put toward your special day.

Recommended: 2024 Wedding Cost Calculator with Examples

The Takeaway

Saving for your dream wedding might seem impossible, but it’s within your grasp if you’re willing to put in the time and effort. By cutting a few everyday costs and making automatic transfers into a high-yield savings account every month, you and your soon-to-be spouse will be able to slowly but surely build your wedding fund.

You can also find ways to trim wedding costs while still staying true to your vision for the day. If you find you’ll still need to rely on some type of financing to pay for your big day, be sure to look at all your options to find one with the least cost.

Think twice before turning to high-interest credit cards. Consider a SoFi personal loan instead. SoFi offers competitive fixed rates and same-day funding. Checking your rate takes just a minute.

SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Personal Loan overall.


Photo credit: iStock/standret

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.

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.

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Is Your Credit Card Spending Limit Too High?

The credit limit on a credit card is the maximum amount you can spend before needing to repay it. A high credit card spending limit can provide spending power to people who can pay off their debt on time and not incur too much in the way of interest charges and fees. However, for people who use a high credit card spending limit as permission to overspend, there can be problems.

You can request a credit limit increase, but credit card issuers sometimes automatically increase the credit limit of those who have shown they can manage credit well. But is a higher spending limit a good thing? It may not be for everyone’s financial situation. Here’s how to know if your credit card spending limit is too high.

How Does My Credit Card Spending Limit Work?

Credit cards are a form of revolving debt, which means that there is an upper spending limit. However, the credit can be repaid and used again. It revolves between being available to use, being unavailable because it’s being used, and being available to use again after it’s been repaid.

A credit card issuer typically bases the credit limit on factors such as the applicant’s credit score, income, credit history, and debt-to-income ratio. However, every credit card company differs in which factors it considers and how much emphasis it places on each component.

There may be multiple types of credit limits on the same credit card, e.g., a daily spending limit or cash advance limit.

How much is typical? The current credit card limit for the average American is almost $30,000. However, it’s worth noting, it doesn’t mean you should spend the full amount of your limit.

In fact, you may want to spend no more than 30% of your limit to maintain your financial wellness and to help build your credit score. In fact, many financial experts suggest a credit utilization of 10%. That would mean that if, say, your credit limit was $30,000, you would only carry a balance of $3,000.

Why Your Credit Card Issuer Increased Your Spending Limit

Your spending limit isn’t set in stone, though. Even if you haven’t specifically requested a credit limit increase, your credit card issuer may automatically increase the credit limit on your card.

There are various reasons this might happen.

•   Your credit has improved, resulting in a higher credit score.

•   Your income has increased.

•   The credit card issuer wants to retain you as a customer by offering a higher credit limit.

By increasing your credit card spending limit, the credit card issuer may have hopes that you’ll carry a balance on your card.

One stream of revenue for them is interest charges and fees. If you carry a balance, rather than paying your balance in full each month, you’ll be charged interest on the outstanding amount. And if you fail to make at least the minimum payment due or pay the bill late, you’ll likely be charged a late fee.

Both interest charges and fees are then added to the balance due on the next statement, and themselves incur interest. Essentially, you’ll be paying interest on interest.

Pros of a High Credit Card Spending Limit

For some people, due to their financial needs or goals, there may be practical reasons for having a high credit card spending limit.

•   It can be helpful in an emergency situation. Even if you’ve accumulated an emergency fund or rainy day fund, there might be instances when you need more than that. For instance, if your refrigerator suddenly stops working, you’ll probably want to replace it sooner rather than later. Large appliances can cost several thousand dollars to purchase and have installed.

•   Having a high credit limit while using a small percentage of it can lower your credit utilization rate. Your credit utilization rate is the relationship between your spending limit and your balance at any given time. If your limit is $10,000, and your balance is $1,500, your credit utilization is 15%. Generally, the lower your credit utilization rate, the better (below 30% or closer to 10% is best).

•   If you have a rewards credit card, having a higher spending limit on it could mean reaping greater rewards, whether that’s cash back, miles, or another type of reward. Being financially able to pay the account balance in full each month is key to making the most of this strategy.

Cons of a High Credit Card Spending Limit

As attractive as the benefits might sound, there can be drawbacks to having a high credit card spending limit.

•   You might be tempted to spend because you can, even if you can’t pay your credit card balance in full at the end of the billing period. This will result in purchase interest charges being added to the unpaid balance, and interest will accrue on this new, larger balance. It can become a debt cycle for some people.

•   Having a high credit limit and using a large percentage of it can increase your credit utilization rate. This rate is one of the most important factors in the calculation of your credit score — it accounts for 30% of your FICO® Score, and is considered “extremely influential” to your VantageScore®. It’s generally recommended to keep your credit utilization rate to 30% or less, as mentioned above.

•   Requesting an increase in your credit card spending limit could cause your credit score to decrease slightly. The credit card issuer might do a hard credit inquiry into your credit report, which can mean a ding of several points (say, between five and 10) to your credit score, depending on your overall credit. It’s usually a temporary drop, but if you’re planning to apply for a loan or other type of credit, it could make a difference in the interest rate you’re offered.

What Happens if You Go Over Your Spending Limit

The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (Credit CARD Act) put consumer protections against unfair credit card practices into place. One of the stipulations in this Act is that credit card issuers cannot charge an over-the-limit fee unless the card holder opts into an agreement for charges above the credit limit to be paid.

If you choose not to opt in to this agreement, any charges you try to make that exceed your credit card spending limit will be denied.

If you do opt in, the excess charges will be paid, but the credit card issuer may charge a fee for covering the overage amount. Generally, the first-time fee can be up to $25. If you exceed your spending limit a second time within six months, you could be charged up to $35. The fee can’t be larger than the amount you went over your credit limit by, though. So, if you charge a purchase that’s $100, but you only have $90 of available credit, the over-limit fee would be $10.

Before you opt in to an agreement like this, the credit card issuer must tell you what potential fees there might be. They must also provide you with confirmation that you opted in.

If you opted in to an over-the-limit agreement, but no longer want it, you can opt out at any time by contacting your credit card issuer’s customer service department.

Recommended: Maxed-Out Credit Card: Consequences and Steps to Bounce Back

Taking Control of Credit Card Debt

A higher spending limit can be a good thing if it’s used responsibly. Looking for a credit card that has more favorable rewards or offers perks that your current credit cards don’t have could be a good option for managing your debt.

If you’re struggling with credit card debt and a higher credit card spending limit is not an option for your financial situation or comfort level, another possible option could be to consolidate high-interest credit card debt with a personal loan.

With a credit card consolidation loan, all your balances are merged into one new loan with just one monthly payment and one interest rate instead of several. This new interest rate could end up being lower than the rates on your current individual credit cards, which could lower your monthly debt payment.

Also, a personal loan is installment debt, which means there will be a payment end date. Credit cards are revolving debt with no firm end date.

The Takeaway

A higher credit card spending limit may or may not be a positive thing, depending on your financial situation. You may have requested a credit limit increase or your credit card issuer may have automatically increased your spending limit because of factors such as an improved credit score or increased income, among others. But if the amount of credit you’ve been approved for results in poor financial decision making or increased debt, your credit card spending limit may be too high.

Whether you're looking to build credit, apply for a new credit card, or save money with the cards you have, it's important to understand the options that are best for you. Learn more about credit cards by exploring this credit card guide.

FAQ

What’s the average credit card limit?

Currently, the average credit card limit is close to $30,000.

Can a spending limit be too high?

Depending on your financial situation, a spending limit could be too high. If that high limit encourages you to overspend and carry a high level of debt at a high interest rate, it could be problematic.

Is it bad to use 50% of your credit limit?

Financial experts recommend that you use no more than 30% of your credit limit, preferably close to 10%. Going higher than that can negatively impact your credit score and your financial health.


Photo credit: iStock/mixetto

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

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

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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What to Know Before Renting out a Room in Your House

What to Know Before Renting out a Room in Your House

Renting out a room in your house can be a good source of extra income but generally isn’t something you want to do on a whim. From legal and financial considerations to aesthetics, there are lots of things to think about before offering the space to a potential housemate.

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

What Are Some Room Rental Options?

Renting out a room in your house doesn’t have to mean having one long-term renter, although that’s certainly one way to go. Here’s a look at a few different rental options.

Short-term Rental

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

Recommended: 25 Things to Know When Renting Out an Airbnb

Long-term Rental

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

Furnished or Unfurnished Rental

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

What Financial Considerations Are There?

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

Return on Investment

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

Recommended: What Is Considered a Good Return on Investment?

Taxes

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

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

Recommended: 25 Tax Deductions for Freelancers

Are There any Legal Considerations?

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

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

Neighborhood Restrictions

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

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

Recommended: Condo vs Townhouse

Screening Tenants

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

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

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

Rental Agreement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preparing the Room for Rental

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

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

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

You may want to make some cosmetic changes, too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended: 20 Renter-Friendly House Updates

Increased Utility Costs

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

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

Covering the Cost of Making Your Room Rental Ready

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

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

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

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

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

The Takeaway

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

Think twice before turning to high-interest credit cards. Consider a SoFi personal loan instead. SoFi offers competitive fixed rates and same-day funding. Checking your rate takes just a minute.


SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best 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 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.

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.

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

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How Refinancing Credit Card Debt Works

Spending is on the rise — and so is consumer debt. Americans carry, on average, three credit cards and have $6,501 in credit card debt. Overall, U.S. credit card debt is $129 billion higher than it was one year ago.

That amount of debt can be a challenge to pay down along with regular monthly household expenses. Some people may choose to refinance their high-interest credit card debt in an effort to secure a lower interest rate or a lower monthly payment. Refinancing credit card debt can be one way to make progress toward eliminating it completely.

What Is Credit Card Debt?

If you’re putting more purchases on credit cards than you can pay off in a monthly billing cycle, you have credit card debt.

Interest will accrue on the balance that carries over to the next billing cycle. If you don’t pay at least the minimum amount due, you’ll likely also be charged a late fee. Since credit cards use compound interest, you’ll be charged interest on accrued interest and fees. That can add up quickly and make it more difficult to get out of debt.

Carrying a balance on more than one credit card can make the debt even more difficult to manage. If your goal is to be free of credit card debt, refinancing can be one way to achieve that.

What Are Some Benefits of Refinancing Credit Card Debt?

Credit cards are revolving debt and typically have variable annual percentage rates (APRs).

Refinancing credit card debt with an installment loan that has a fixed interest rate, such as a personal loan, will mean you’ll have a fixed end date to your debt and will have the same APR for the entire term of the loan.

If you’re refinancing multiple credit card balances into one new loan or line of credit, you’ll have fewer bills to pay each month. That could potentially make monthly budgeting a simpler task.

Recommended: What Is a Good APR for a Credit Card?

Consolidate your credit card
debt with a personal loan from SoFi.


How Might Debt Refinancing Affect Your Credit Score?

Something to keep in mind when your goal is to pay down debt is that it’s a long game.

That being said, in the short term your credit score can decrease slightly when you apply for new credit and the lender looks at your credit report. During the formal application process, the lender will perform a hard inquiry into your credit report, which may result in a slight temporary drop of your credit score.

If you’re comparing multiple lenders, and they offer prequalification, they’ll do a soft inquiry into your credit report, which won’t affect your credit score.

Building your credit — or rebuilding it — through refinancing credit card debt can be possible if you make on-time, regular payments on the new loan. Reducing your credit utilization can be another positive result of refinancing credit card debt. Both of these can potentially increase your credit score.

It’s important not to overuse the credit cards you refinanced into a new loan, however, or you might accumulate even more debt than you started with.

Will Canceling My Unused Credit Cards Affect my Credit Score?

After you’ve refinanced your existing credit card debt into a new loan, you might be tempted to cancel those credit cards. But that strategy could negatively affect your credit score.

Whether it’s a good idea to cancel a credit card really depends on the card. If you’ve had the credit card for a long time, closing it would shorten your credit history, which could result in a credit score drop. But if it’s a card you genuinely don’t have a reason to keep, such as a retail card for a store you no longer shop at or a card that has a high annual fee that can’t be justified with your current spending habits, closing the account might be the right step for you.

If you plan to keep a credit card open, it may be a good idea to use it for a small, recurring charge so the card issuer doesn’t close it for inactivity. Setting up autopay can make this a convenient way to ensure the card stays open but is paid in full each month.

What Are Some Options for Refinancing Credit Card Debt?

Your overall creditworthiness will be a determining factor in finding available refinancing options. Lenders will look at your credit report and credit score, paying attention to how you’ve handled credit in the past and how much total debt you have in relation to your income.

Balance Transfer Credit Card

If you can qualify for a low- or no-interest credit card, you could use it to transfer a balance from another credit card. You’ll typically be charged a balance transfer fee equal to a percentage of the balance you’re transferring. The promotional rate on these types of cards is temporary, sometimes lasting up to 18 months or so, but can be as short as 6 months.

If you pay the transferred balance in full within the promotional period, you may not pay any interest at all, or a minimal amount. However, if you still have an outstanding balance on the card when the promotional period is over, the APR will revert to the card’s standard rate for balance transfers.

Home Equity Loan

A potential source of refinancing funds might be your home, if you have equity in it. Funds from a home equity loan can be used for just about anything, even things unrelated to your home. You can calculate how much equity you have in your home by subtracting the amount you owe on your mortgage from the current market value of your home.

In addition to the amount of equity you have in your home, lenders will typically also look at your income and your credit history to determine how much you might qualify for. It’s common for lenders to limit a home equity loan to no more than 80% to 85% of the equity you have in your home. There are typically closing costs with a home equity loan including appraisal fee, title search, origination fee, or other fees, and can be between 2% and 5% of the loan amount.

A home equity loan is a second mortgage secured by your home. If you fail to repay the loan, the lender can foreclose on your home.

Debt Consolidation Loan

Some lenders offer loans specifically for debt consolidation. These are actually personal loans, the funds from which can be used to pay off your existing credit card debt. Then, you’ll be responsible for repaying the debt consolidation loan. There may be fees charged on this type of loan, so be sure to look over the loan agreement carefully before signing it.

For a credit card consolidation loan to be as effective as possible at reducing your debt, it will ideally have a lower APR than you’re paying on your credit cards. In this way, you would be paying less in interest over the life of the loan. If a lower monthly payment is your goal, you may opt for a longer-term loan, but may pay a higher interest rate.

Recommended: How to Get a Debt Consolidation Loan with Bad Credit

The Takeaway

If your credit card debt is piling up and you’re finding it challenging to pay it down, you may be considering refinancing. Some credit card refinancing options include balance transfer credit cards with a promotional APR, a home equity loan, or a debt consolidation loan.

Think twice before turning to high-interest credit cards. Consider a SoFi personal loan instead. SoFi offers competitive fixed rates and same-day funding. Checking your rate takes just a minute.


SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best 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 SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


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 .

Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

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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