How to Find a Contractor for Home Renovations & Remodeling

How to Find a Contractor for Home Renovations & Remodeling

You’re ready to make home improvements. When looking for a trustworthy pro, it’s a good idea to get referrals, check references, get multiple bids, and nail down your financing. Let’s drill down to the details on how to find a good contractor for remodeling and what you need to ask as you move through the process.
​​

💡 Quick Tip: With SoFi, it takes just minutes to view your rate for a home loan online.

Ask for Referrals

Often the easiest way to find a reputable contractor for your project is through word-of-mouth referrals, whether from a friend, neighbor, family member, or colleague. Maybe you’ve watched your friend remodel the kitchen on social media; you may want to ask for the name of the contractor behind the job. Likewise, if you see a big construction project going up in your neighborhood, you can ask the homeowner for insight on the contractor behind it.

You might also want to ask owners of local lumber yards, where con­tractors do their bulk business, who’s reliable.

Recommended: Refinance Your Mortgage and Save

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


Search Online for the Top-Reviewed Contractors

Before hiring a contractor to renovate or remodel your home, it’s smart to do your due diligence and collect as many references as possible. But if you’re new to a town or neighborhood, for example, you may wonder how to find a contractor who works in your area.

This is where online reviews come in handy. There are many websites out there that offer lists of licensed contractors with accompanying reviews.

Look at Credentials and Portfolio

As you begin speaking with each potential contractor, ask to see a copy of their contractor’s license and insurance policy, and ask about any specialty certifications or membership to any professional organizations like the National Association of Home Builders, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, or the National Kitchen & Bath Association.

Be aware that some states require contractor licensing; others, certification or registration. Registration doesn’t guarantee expertise; it’s merely a written record of who is performing the work. Many but not all states have websites where you can verify your pro’s license number. If your property is governed by a homeowners association or condo association, remember that the association may require proof of licensing.

Most reputable builders or contractors should have a website or basic social media presence, but if you can’t find one, request an email link to the contractor’s portfolio to see examples of past projects, from countertop replacement to closet remodels, as well as before and after photos.

Interview Candidates

Once you have a list of potential contractors narrowed down to your three top picks, it’s a good move to interview each of them before you go a step further. Maybe you won’t jibe with one of them, or perhaps another won’t seem as knowledgeable about certain components of construction or remodeling as you’d like for your particular project.

Treat hiring any contractor or handyman just like you would hiring an employee for your work, and if you don’t get a good feeling about the candidate, trust your gut. Communication is key for any successful project, and if the communication feels lacking in the interview process, it’s likely you’ll get frustrated down the line when all the moving parts of a remodeling project are also thrown into the mix.

Check References

After you’ve compiled a list of contractors and interviewed your top candidates, you’ll want to check references. Professionals should be able to provide a list of contacts from past jobs, and if they can’t do so right on the spot, that’s probably a red flag.

When checking references, you might want to ask past customers if the contractor completed the job on time and within budget, if there were any problematic interactions, and how the work has held up since.

Review the Cost Estimate

You could find the perfect contractor for the job, only to learn that the pro is far out of your budget.

It’s smart to get at least three competitive quotes from contractors before you move forward. A cost estimate should include labor, materials, change-order language, and a timeline, at minimum. Many contractors also have payment schedules so you will know when you’ll need to have your finances in order.

One positive if you have second thoughts about the expense: While the cost to remodel a house may not be cheap, if you keep your property modern and up to date, it’s possible you’ll recoup those dollars in resale value down the line.


💡 Quick Tip: Compared to credit cards and other unsecured loans, you can usually get a lower interest rate with a cash-out refinance loan.

Consider the Red Flags

If it’s your first time hiring a contractor, you may not know what to look for — or what’s a red flag. To save yourself headaches down the road, if the contractor checks any of the below boxes, the person’s professionalism might be in question and it’s probably wise to move on to the next candidate.

•   No “before” remodeling pictures

•   No website, social media presence, or reviews

•   No license or certification

•   No references

•   Slow communication

Recommended: The Cost of Living By State

The Takeaway

How to find a contractor for home renovations? Hiring a contractor is a process that you’d be smart to treat like a job interview. It’s a good idea to check references and credentials, get bids, look for red flags, and have financing lined up, whether you take out a personal loan or opt for a home equity line of credit (HELOC).

SoFi now offers flexible HELOCs. Our HELOC options allow you to access up to 95% of your home’s value, or $500,000, at competitively low rates. And the application process is quick and convenient.

Unlock your home’s value with a home equity line of credit brokered by SoFi.

FAQ

Before you sign on the dotted line for your remodeling job, there are some things about working with a contractor you need to know before locking one in.

What should a remodel contract include?

You’ll want to make sure the contract lays out the overall project budget and scope of work, when payments are due, and how to handle the inevitable changes that will arise.You’ll also want to have a dispute resolution and waiver of the lien clause so that a subcontractor cannot put a lien on your home, and a warranty for the work that is an acceptable time frame for the amount you’ve invested.

What questions should I ask a contractor?

When you’re meeting with each potential contractor, ask about past projects and if they have specific experience doing the type of renovation work that you’d like done. It’s also helpful to ask how they would approach the project and how much of an impact it’ll have on your ability to live in the home while work is taking place.

You’ll also want to inquire about insurance. Ask for proof that the contractor carries an insurance policy that protects you, the homeowner, as well. All of these are things a professional contractor should have and easily be able to produce.

What should you know before hiring a contractor?

Know that there are always bad actors who can take advantage of the huge sums of money that Americans pouring into real estate investment — and that no reputable contractor should be offended if you ask for references, proof of insurance, and all promises in writing.


Photo credit: iStock/BOX39studio

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


SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

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.

²

To obtain a home equity loan, SoFi Bank (NMLS #696891) may assist you obtaining a loan from Spring EQ (NMLS #1464945).

All loan terms, fees, and rates may vary based upon individual financial and personal circumstances and state.

You may discuss with your loan officer whether a SoFi Mortgage or a home equity loan from Spring EQ is appropriate. Please note that the SoFi member discount does not apply to Home Equity Loans or Lines of Credit brokered through SoFi. Terms and conditions will apply. Before you apply for a SoFi Mortgage, please note that not all products are offered in all states, and all loans are subject to eligibility restrictions and limitations, including requirements related to loan applicant’s credit, income, property, and loan amount. Minimum loan amount is $75,000. Lowest rates are reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. Products, rates, benefits, terms, and conditions are subject to change without notice. Learn more at SoFi.com/eligibility-criteria.

SoFi Mortgages originated through SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org). Equal Housing Lender. SoFi Bank, N.A. is currently NOT able to accept applications for refinance loans in NY.

In the event SoFi serves as broker to Spring EQ for your loan, SoFi will be paid a fee.

SOHL0124033

Read more

How to Know When to Sell a Stock

Knowing when to sell a stock is a complex enterprise, even for the most sophisticated investors. In a perfect world you’d sell a stock when you’d made a profit and wanted to capture the gains. But even that scenario raises questions of your target amount (have you made enough?) and timing (would it be better to hold the stock longer?).

Similar questions arise when the stock is losing value. Is it a true loser or is the company just underperforming? Should you sell and cut your losses — or would you be locking in losses just before a rebound?

Adding to the above there are questions of personal need, opportunity costs, tax considerations, and more that investors must keep in mind as they decide when to sell their stocks. Fortunately there is a fairly finite list of considerations, as well as different order types like market sell, stop-loss, stop-limit, and others that give investors some control over the decision of when to sell a stock.

Key Points

•   Knowing when to sell stocks requires considering factors such as a company’s fundamentals, opportunity cost, valuation, personal needs, and tax implications.

•   Economic reports and earnings releases can affect stock prices, but there is no specific ideal time to sell.

•   Different sell order types, such as market sell, limit sell, stop-loss sell, and stop-limit sell, offer investors varying levels of control and execution.

•   Investors selling stock should consider how a sale aligns with their financial goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon.

•   Financial advisors and online brokerage platforms provide options for selling stocks, but costs and individual preferences should be considered.



💡 Quick Tip: If you’re opening a brokerage account for the first time, consider starting with an amount of money you’re prepared to lose. Investing always includes the risk of loss, and until you’ve gained some experience, it’s probably wise to start small.

When Is a Good Time to Sell Stocks?

There are a few ways to approach the question of when to sell stocks. Risk, style, investing goals, and how much time you have are all critical variables. Perhaps the most relevant answer is “when you need to,” as that criterion alone requires specific calculations that depend on your overall plan, the type of investor you are, your risk tolerance, market conditions (i.e. stock market fluctuations), and of course the stock itself.

When deciding when to sell a stock, you might weigh:

•   How the stock fits into your goals

•   Company fundamentals

•   Economic trends

•   Your hoped-for profit

•   Volatility and/or losses

•   Taxes

In addition, whether you sell your stocks will boil down to your investment style — are you day trading or employing a buy-and-hold strategy? — how much risk you’re willing to assume, and your overall time horizon and other goals (i.e. tax considerations).

Many investors who are simply investing for retirement may rarely sell stocks. After all, over time the average stock market return has been about 10% (not taking inflation into account).

And while there are no guarantees, in general the old saying that “time in the market is better than timing the market” tends to hold true.

Others, who are looking to turn a profit on a weekly or monthly basis, may sell much more frequently. It’s more a matter of looking at what you’re hoping to generate from your investments, and how fast you’re hoping to generate it.

Get up to $1,000 in stock when you fund a new Active Invest account.**

Access stock trading, options, auto investing, IRAs, and more. Get started in just a few minutes.


**Customer must fund their Active Invest account with at least $10 within 30 days of opening the account.
Probability of customer receiving $1,000 is 0.028%. See full terms and conditions.

8 Reasons You Might Sell a Stock

There are several reasons that could prompt you to think about selling your stock.

1. When You No Longer Believe in the Company

When you bought shares of a certain company, you presumably did so because you believed that the company was promising and you wanted to invest in its stock, and/or that the share price was reasonable. But if you start to believe that the underlying fundamentals of the business are in decline, it might be time to sell the stock and reinvest those funds in a company with a better outlook.

There are many reasons you may lose faith in a stock’s underlying fundamentals. For example, the company may have declining profit margins or decreasing revenue, increased competition, new leadership taking the company in a different direction, or legal problems.

Part of the task here is differentiating what might be a short-term blip in the stock price due to a bad quarter or even a bad year, and what feels like it could be the start of a more sustained change within the business.

Recommended: Tips on Evaluating Stock Performance

2. Due to Opportunity Cost

Every investment decision you make comes at the cost of some other decision you can’t make. When you invest your money in one thing, the tradeoff is that you cannot invest that money in something else.

So, for each stock you buy you are doing so at the cost of not buying some other asset.

Given the performance of the stock you’re currently holding, it might be worth evaluating it to see if there could be a more profitable way to deploy those same dollars. Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that provide easy access to other asset classes — like bonds or commodities — have also created competition to simply holding company stocks.

This is easier said than done, however, because we are often emotionally invested in the stocks that we’ve already purchased. Nonetheless, it’s important to include an evaluation of opportunity costs as part of your overall decision about when to sell a stock.

3. Because the Valuation Is High

Often, stocks are evaluated in terms of their price-to-earnings (P/E) ratios. The market price per share is on the top of the equation, and on the bottom of the equation is the earnings per share. This ratio allows investors to make an apples-to-apples comparison of the relative earnings at different companies.

The higher the number, the higher the price as compared to the earnings of that company. A P/E ratio alone might not tell you whether a stock is going to do well or poorly in the future. But when paired with other data, such as historical ratios for that same stock, or the earnings multiples of their competitors or a benchmark market, like the S&P 500 Index, it may be an indicator that the stock is currently overpriced and that it may be time to sell the stock.

A P/E ratio could increase due to one of two reasons: Because the price has increased without a corresponding increase in the expected earnings for that company, or because the earnings expectations have been lowered without a corresponding decrease in the price of the stock. Either of these scenarios tells us that there could be trouble for the stock on the horizon, though nothing’s a sure bet.

4. For Personal Reasons

It’s also possible that you may need to sell a stock for personal reasons, such as:

•   You need the cash (owing to a job loss, emergency, etc.)

•   You no longer believe in the mission of the company

•   Your risk tolerance has changed and you’re moving away from equities

•   You want to try another strategy other than active investing, for example automated investing, where your investment choices are largely guided by the input of a sophisticated algorithm.

Since personal reasons may also have emotions attached to them, it’s wise to balance out your personal feelings with an evaluation of other reasons to sell the stock.

5. Because of Taxes

Employing a tax-efficient investing strategy shouldn’t outweigh making decisions based on other priorities. Still, it’s important to take taxes into account when making decisions about which stocks to keep and which stocks to sell.

When purchased outside of a retirement account, gains on the sale of an investment are subject to capital gains tax rules. It may be possible to offset some capital gains with capital losses, which are triggered by selling stocks at a loss.

This strategy is known as tax-loss harvesting.

For example, if an investor sells a security for a $25,000 gain, and sells another security at a $10,000 loss, the loss could be applied so that the investor would only see a capital gain of $15,000 ($25,000 – $10,000).

If you’re considering this as part of a self-directed trading strategy, you may want to consult a tax professional, as the rules can be complicated in terms of short-term vs. long-term gains, replacing a stock you sell with one that’s substantially different, as well as how to carryover losses.

•   Understanding how a tax loss can be carried forward

The difference between capital gains and capital losses is called a net capital gain. If losses exceed gains, that’s a net capital loss.

•   If an investor has an overall net capital loss for the year, they can deduct up to $3,000 against other kinds of income — including their salary and interest income.

•   Any excess net capital loss can be carried over to subsequent years (known as a tax-loss carryover or carry forward) and deducted against capital gains and up to $3,000 of other kinds of income — depending on the circumstances.

•   For those who are married filing separately, the annual net capital loss deduction limit is only $1,500.

Recommended: Unrealized Gains and Losses Explained

6. To Rebalance a Portfolio

If you’re looking to make some tweaks to your investment strategy for one reason or another, you may want to sell some stocks as a part of a strategy to rebalance your portfolio. The reason for rebalancing is to keep your portfolio anchored on the asset allocation that you prefer.

As some investments rise and fall over time, your asset allocation naturally shifts. Some asset classes might exceed the percentage you originally chose, based on your risk tolerance.

Investors are encouraged to rebalance their portfolios regularly — but not too often — as market and economic conditions can and do change. An annual rebalancing strategy is common.

This typically involves taking a look at your desired asset allocation, thinking about your risk tolerance (and how it may have changed), and deciding how you may want to change the different asset classes that comprise your portfolio, if at all.

7. Because You Made a Mistake

You may want to sell stocks if you simply made a mistake. Perhaps the company or sector is not a priority for you, or not a good bet in your eye. Maybe a stock is too risk or volatile. Maybe you bought into a company because it was in the news, or friends were raving about it (a.k.a. FOMO trading).

All of these conditions can happen to investors, and knowing when to sell a stock sometimes means owning up to a mistake.

Recommended: Guide to Financially Preparing for Retirement

8. You’ve Met Your Goals

In the best case, of course, you might want to sell a stock once you’ve met your goals. Perhaps the price is right, or you’re ready to retire, or you’ve crossed some other threshold where you no longer need to hold onto the stock.
In that case, the decision to sell will likely come down to timing and taxes. Or, if you’re preparing to retire, you may also want to consider whether you’re holding the stock in a tax-deferred account or not.


💡 Quick Tip: When you’re actively investing in stocks it’s important to ask what types of fees you might have to pay. For example, brokers may charge a flat fee for trading stocks, or require some commission for every trade. Taking the time to manage investment costs can be beneficial over the long term.

4 Reasons You Might Not Want to Sell a Stock

In addition to weighing possible reasons for selling a stock, there are counter arguments for holding onto your shares.

1. Because a Stock Went Up

As mentioned, most stock prices will go up at some point, and you may want to hold onto your stock in the hope that it will continue to grow. That’s a valid reason, especially if you’re thinking long term.

Just bear in mind that there are no guarantees, and past performance is no guarantee of future results, as the industry mantra goes. So even if a stock’s price is rising, you may want to have a few other reasons for not selling the stock.

2. Because a Stock Went Down

Just as a stock may go up, the price will also go down at some point. At those moments it may be tempting to cut your losses before you accrue even bigger ones — especially if you believe that the stock’s value will continue to drop.

But, again, it may be helpful to think longer term rather than what’s happening today. The stock price might rebound, and you may only lock your losses in by selling. Analyzing the company fundamentals as well as the economic climate can help you make this decision.

Recommended: What Happens If a Stock Goes to Zero?

3. Because of an Economic Forecast

Economic forecasting uses a range of economic indicators — such as interest rates, consumer confidence, the rate of inflation, unemployment rates — to predict or anticipate economic growth. But economic forecasting is not an exact science, and it’s wise to consider other factors.

In addition, economic forecasts come and go. This is especially the case in the short term. Therefore, changes in stock prices may have as much to do with investor sentiment or outside forces (such as political or economic events or announcements) as they do with the health of the underlying company.

4. Because Everyone Else Is Selling

Understanding the impact of other investors on your own decisions is equally important. While you may think you’re capable of remaining calm in the face of media hype and headlines, as numerous behavioral finance studies have shown it’s surprisingly easy to get caught up in what other investors are doing.

If you find yourself questioning your own investment plan or your own logic, think twice to make sure the impulse to sell isn’t brought on by strong emotions or by the opinions of others.

Selling a Stock 101

These are the basic steps required to cash out and sell stocks:

1.    Whether by phone or via an online brokerage account platform, let your broker know which of your stock holdings you’d like to sell.

2.    Specify which order type (more on that below). This can determine at what price level your stock is sold.

3.    Fill out any other information your broker requires in order to initiate the sale. For instance, some accounts may have a “time in force” option, or when the order expires. Keep in mind, the trade date is different from the settlement date. It usually takes a couple of days for a trade to settle.

4.    Click “Sell” or “Submit Order.”

Different Sell Order Types

There are several different stock order types that can be useful in different situations.

Market Sell Order

This order type involves selling a stock immediately. The order will be executed without the investor specifying any price level to sell at. It’s important for investors to know however that because share prices are constantly shifting, they might not get the exact price they see on their stock-data feed. There may also be a difference due to delayed versus real-time stock quotes to consider as well.

Generally speaking, the advantage of using a market order is that your trade is likely to be executed quickly. That’s especially true for bigger or more popular stocks, which tend to be more liquid. But again: the biggest potential drawback is that you might not get the exact price you thought you were due to market volatility.

Limit Sell Order

Limit orders involve selling a stock at a specific price. For example, if you’re buying stocks, you can specify a price that you’re willing to pay — the trade will then be executed at that price, or lower.

If you’re selling stocks, the inverse is true — your stock will be sold at the specified price, or higher.

The upside to using limit orders is that they give investors some semblance of control by allowing them to name their price. The investor can then walk away, and let their brokerage handle the execution for them.

The downsides, though, include the fact that the trade may never execute if the specified price isn’t reached, and that using limit orders may take some practice and experience to properly execute.

Stop-Loss Sell Order

A stop-loss order is a level at which an automatic sell order kicks in. In other words, an investor specifies a price at which the broker should start selling, should the stock hit that level. This can also be referred to as a “sell-stop order.” But note that there are other types of stop-loss orders, such as buy-stop orders, and trailing stop-loss orders.

Stop-loss orders can be useful in that they can prevent investors from losing more than they’re comfortable with, or that they can afford to lose. They, as the name implies, are a very useful tool to prevent losses. But depending on overall market conditions, they can also work against an investor. If there’s a short-term drop in share prices, for instance, it’s possible that an investor could miss out on gains if share prices rebound in the medium or long term.

Stop-Limit Sell Order

A stop-limit sell order is an order that’s executed if your stock’s price drops to a certain price, but only if the shares can be sold at or above the limit price specified. They are, in effect, a sort of bridge between stop and limit orders. These types of orders can help investors dodge the risk that a stop order executed at an unexpected price, giving them more control over the price at which a sell order will execute.

Different Ways to Sell Stocks

There are desktop platforms and mobile phone apps that offer brokerage services. These are likely the most common platforms individual or retail investors use to currently buy or sell stocks. However, another option is through a financial advisor.

Financial advisors are professionals who have been entrusted to handle certain financial responsibilities and you can send them a stock sale order to execute. They can do a number of other things for you, too, including proffer advice and help you formulate an investing strategy. But there are costs to using financial advisors, so it may not be worth it, depending on how involved in the markets you are.

The Takeaway

There are times when it may be a good idea to sell your stocks, and others when it’s not. For example, if you’ve lost faith in a company, need a cash infusion, or are doing some portfolio rebalancing, it may be a good time to sell shares of a certain stock.

On the other hand, if you’re unnerved that your stock’s price fell after a bad earnings report, you may want to hold on and let things play out. It’s difficult, and is a true test of your risk tolerance. But over time, it should become easier and more natural as you gain experience as an investor.

Ready to invest in your goals? It’s easy to get started when you open an investment account with SoFi Invest. You can invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, alternative funds, and more. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).


Invest with as little as $5 with a SoFi Active Investing account.

FAQ

How can you tell when to sell a stock?

There’s no exact science, and determining whether it’s a good time to sell a stock will come down to the individual investor’s strategy, risk tolerance, and time horizon. However, you can also keep an eye on a stock’s valuation, consider your opportunity costs, and weigh other factors in order to make the decision.

Should you ever sell stocks when they’re down?

You can sell stocks when they lose value for any number of reasons, but it’s wise to make sure you’re doing so as a part of an overall investing strategy, e.g. tax-loss harvesting, and not simply because you’re making an emotional or impulsive decision based on current market conditions.

How much profit do I need before I sell a stock?

There’s no exact science or answer to determine how much of a return you’d need to see before you sell a stock. That’s up to the specific investor, and there may be times when selling a stock at a loss is preferable for tax purposes or other reasons.


SoFi Invest®
INVESTMENTS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED • ARE NOT BANK GUARANTEED • MAY LOSE VALUE
SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
2) Active Investing and brokerage services are provided by SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA (www.finra.org)/SIPC(www.sipc.org). Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above please visit 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.

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.

Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs): Investors should carefully consider the information contained in the prospectus, which contains the Fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other relevant information. You may obtain a prospectus from the Fund company’s website or by email customer service at [email protected]. Please read the prospectus carefully prior to investing.
Shares of ETFs must be bought and sold at market price, which can vary significantly from the Fund’s net asset value (NAV). Investment returns are subject to market volatility and shares may be worth more or less their original value when redeemed. The diversification of an ETF will not protect against loss. An ETF may not achieve its stated investment objective. Rebalancing and other activities within the fund may be subject to tax consequences.


Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market.

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: The projections or other information regarding the likelihood of various investment outcomes are hypothetical in nature, do not reflect actual investment results, and are not guarantees of future results.

SOIN0224005

Read more
A Guide to Callable Bonds

Callable Bonds (or Redeemable Bonds), Explained

Callable bonds give issuers the option to redeem the bond before it matures. They’re also referred to as redeemable bonds. Bond investors lend their money to entities or issuers for a certain period of time and in return investors receive interest on the principal. These entities typically return the borrowed principle to the bond investors by the bond’s maturity date.

An exception to this process of bond investing is using callable bonds, which allows the issuer to pay off its loans early by buying back its bonds before they reach their date of maturity. You can define a callable bond as one with a built-in call option.

What Is a Callable Bond?

Callable bonds, also referred to as redeemable bonds, allow the issuer the right, but not the obligation, to redeem the bond before it reaches its maturity date. The entity that issues callable bonds has the right to prepay, or in other words, the bond is callable before its maturity date.

Issuers may use callable bonds when they expect interest rates to fall. That way, they can redeem their bonds and issue new ones at a lower coupon rate, reducing their overall interest expenses.


💡 Quick Tip: The best stock trading app? That’s a personal preference, of course. Generally speaking, though, a great app is one with an intuitive interface and powerful features to help make trades quickly and easily.

How Do Callable Bonds Work?

When the issuer calls the bond, it pays investors the call price or the face value of the bond, along with the accrued interest to date. After that, the issuer no longer has to make payments on the bond.

Businesses may prefer callable bonds, since they have built-in flexibility that could lower costs in the future. For example, if market rates are 5% when a company first issues its bonds but they drop to 2.5%, a bond issuer paying 5% would call their bonds and get new ones at 2.5%.

Some bonds have call protection which forbids the issuer to buy it back for a certain period of time. During this period, the company can not call their bonds. However, at the end of this period, the issuer can redeem the bond at its specified call date.

Callable bond prices correlate to interest rates, since falling interest rates make callable bonds less valuable.

Finding the Value of Callable Bonds

The main difference between a non-callable bond and a callable bond is that a callable bond has the call option feature. This feature impacts the calculation of the value of the bond. To find the value of callable bonds, take the bond’s coupon rate and add 1 to it.

For example, a callable bond with a 7% coupon would be 1.07. Next, raise 1.07 to the number of years until the bond is callable. If the bond is callable in two years, you would raise 1.07 to the power of two, which would be 1.1449. Then, multiply that number by the bond’s par value or face value.

If the bond’s par value is $10,000, you would multiply $10,000 by 1.1449 to get 11,449, which is the value of the callable bond.

Recommended: How to Buy Bonds: A Guide for Beginners

Types of Callable Bonds

Bonds have different types of issuers. Municipalities and corporations both may issue callable bonds. Here’s a look at three common types of callable bonds.

1. Optional Redemption Callable Bonds

Some municipal bonds have a redeemable option 10 years after the issue of the bond was issued. However, bonds with higher yields might have a protection or waiting period according to the bond’s maturity date. For example, a five-year bond might not be able to be recalled until two years after it is issued.

2. Sinking Fund Redemption Callable Bonds

This requires the issuer to recall a certain amount or all of the bonds according to a fixed schedule. A sinking fund is money that a company reserves on the side to pay off a bond.

3. Extraordinary Redemption Callable Bonds

Extraordinary redemption is when the issuer recalls the bond before maturity if certain specified events in the bond contract occur such as a business scenario that impacts bond revenue.

Callable Bond Example

A callable bond with a par value of $1,000 and a 5% coupon rate issued on January 1, 2022 has a maturity date of January 1, 2030. The annual interest payments investors would receive is $50. This bond has a protection feature which doesn’t allow the issuer to recall the bond until January 1, 2026, but after that date, the bond can be redeemed.

The issuer believes interest rates will decrease within the next four years and decides to recall the bond on January 1, 2026. If the investor bought the callable bond through their broker at its $1,000 par value, and the issuer chooses to redeem it when the protection period expires in 2026, they would calculate the value of the callable bond as follows:

•   Take the coupon rate and add 1 to it, to make 1.05.

•   Next, multiply 1.05 to the fourth power since the issuer will hold on to it for four years.

•   This calculation will yield 1.2155.

•   Next, multiply 1.255 by the bond’s par value of $1,000 to get $1,215, the value of the callable bond.

Interest and Callable Bonds

From the perspective of the callable bond issuer, falling interest rates are an opportunity to recall your bonds and lower your interest rate. While the investor is compensated at the outset with a higher yield or coupon rate for investing in callable bonds, they must be aware of the added risks associated with this investment.

If interest rates stay the same or increase, there’s a lower chance the issuer will recall its bonds. But if investors believe interest rates will drop prior to the bond’s maturity date, they should be compensated for this additional risk. The investor must determine if the higher yield from callable bonds is worth the risk of investment because the call feature is an advantage to the issuer, not the investor.


💡 Quick Tip: How to manage potential risk factors in a self-directed investment account? Doing your research and employing strategies like dollar-cost averaging and diversification may help mitigate financial risk when trading stocks.

Pros and Cons of Callable Bonds

Like any other investment, callable bonds have benefits and risks. It’s important to keep in mind the pros and cons of investing in callable bonds when considering a long-term investing strategy.

Callable bonds are financial instruments that may carry more risk for investors than noncallable bonds (bonds only paid out at maturity) because there is the chance of the bond being called prior to it reaching maturity.

Pros

Cons

Companies issue callable bonds at higher interest rates to compensate for the risk of early redemption. This means the possibility of greater investment returns. If an issuer calls its bonds early as a result of lower interest rates, bond investors risk not being able to find bonds with lower coupon rates. This could pose a challenge for income-seeking investors who want a reliable stream of passive income from bond investing.
One of the benefits of callable bonds is the option to call the bond early. Instead of waiting until the bond reaches maturity, the issuer can recall the bond earlier to suit their financial business needs. Callable bond investors who pay a premium, or more than a bond’s face value risk only getting back the face value of the bond. This means the investor would lose their money on the premium they already paid.
Callable bonds have benefits that mostly favor the issuer. When interest rates fall, the company can redeem the bonds early and issue new bonds at a lower rate to save on interest payments. Another risk is the bond’s maturity. The longer it takes for the bond to mature, the greater the likelihood for the bond to be called early, especially if there is a change in interest rates. Investing in bonds with a shorter maturity date carries lower interest rate risk.

The Takeaway

Again, callable bonds give issuers the option to redeem the bond before it matures. They’re also referred to as redeemable bonds. Callable bond investors lend their money to entities or issuers for a certain period of time and in return investors receive interest on the principal.

Some investors might consider buying callable bonds as one way to diversify an investment portfolio or to achieve higher yield, however, it’s important for investors to keep the risks associated with this investment top of mind. In an environment where interest rates are falling, callable bonds may not work for long-term investors looking for income.

Ready to invest in your goals? It’s easy to get started when you open an investment account with SoFi Invest. You can invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, alternative funds, and more. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).

For a limited time, opening and funding an Active Invest account gives you the opportunity to get up to $1,000 in the stock of your choice.

FAQ

Are callable bonds a good investment?

Callable bonds may be a good investment depending on an investor’s strategy, risk tolerance, and time horizon, but the overriding interest rate environment may also determine how good of an investment they are as well.

What does it mean if a bond is callable?

If a bond is callable, it means that bonds can be redeemed or paid off by their issuer before they reach their maturity date.

What is the call rule on a callable bond?

The call rule on callable bonds refers to the ability of a bond to be redeemed or repaid by its issuer prior to its maturity date.

What happens to callable bonds when interest rates rise?

When interest rates rise, callable bonds are less likely to be called, though there are no guarantees.

Are callable bonds cheaper?

Generally, callable bonds tend to be less expensive than normal bonds because of the call option, which are of value to their issuer, and may lead to a relative discount for the buyer.

Do callable bonds have higher yields?

Callable bonds do tend to have higher yields, but often not greatly so, and there’s no guarantee that the yields would be higher than those of other types of bonds.


Photo credit: iStock/undefined undefined

SoFi Invest®
INVESTMENTS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED • ARE NOT BANK GUARANTEED • MAY LOSE VALUE
SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
2) Active Investing and brokerage services are provided by SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA (www.finra.org)/SIPC(www.sipc.org). Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above please visit 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.

Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market.

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

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

Claw Promotion: Customer must fund their Active Invest account with at least $10 within 30 days of opening the account. Probability of customer receiving $1,000 is 0.028%. See full terms and conditions.

SOIN0124036

Read more
How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?

How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?

A home inspection costs $300 to $400, and while it may not be required by law or your lender, if you’re purchasing a home, you’ll likely want to consider having a professional take a close look. You may even choose to make your contract contingent on the results.

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

What Do Home Inspectors Do?

The goal of a professional inspection is to help you avoid being surprised by structural defects, plumbing and electrical issues, or other significant problems when buying a home. In highly competitive local real estate markets, some buyers take the risk of waiving the home inspection (some even go so far as to buy a house sight unseen). But certified home inspectors are trained to find the problems you might not see when you walk through a home that’s for sale (even if you’ve seen the property multiple times).

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

Below is a list of some of the things on a home inspection checklist that an inspector will look at.


💡 Quick Tip: You deserve a more zen mortgage. Look for a mortgage lender who’s dedicated to closing your loan on time.

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


Roof Condition

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

Exterior

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

Structural Soundness

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

Heating and Cooling

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

Plumbing

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

Electrical

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

Insulation and Ventilation

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

Recommended: First-time Homebuyer Guide

What Isn’t Included in a Basic Home Inspection?

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

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

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

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

Why Get a Home Inspection?

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

Once you receive your inspection report, it will be up to you to decide if and how you want to move forward with the purchase. As a buyer, you may have a few options, including:

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

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

•   You could back out of the deal altogether.

You don’t have to do anything, by the way. If you want the home and you think the price is fair, you can proceed with the transaction even if the report lists major issues. Especially in a hot market, you may not be able to use the report as a negotiation tool to lower the price or get the seller to pay for repairs. Still, you’ll have the information you need to make the best decision for your personal needs and goals.

Home Inspection Pros and Cons

Pros

Cons

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

Is an Inspection Necessary for a New or Renovated Home?

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

Recommended: Tips to Qualify for a Mortgage

What Factors Into the Price of a Home Inspection?

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

Size

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

Home Size

Approximate Cost

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

Age

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

Location

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

The Inspector

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

Additional Costs

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


💡 Quick Tip: Not to be confused with prequalification, preapproval involves a longer application, documentation, and hard credit pulls. Ideally, you want to keep your applications for preapproval to within the same 14- to 45-day period, since many hard credit pulls outside the given time period can adversely affect your credit score, which in turn affects the mortgage terms you’ll be offered.

How Long Does an Inspection Take?

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

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

Are Any Fixes Mandatory After an Inspection?

A home inspector’s report isn’t a list of “must-dos.” Most repairs are negotiable. And you may decide not to press the seller for any fixes. But it’s important to be aware of the cost of home repairs that may be needed down the line.

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

Tips on Choosing an Inspector

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

Once you have a few names, you can:

Look for Online Reviews

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

Check Credentials

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

Ask About Experience

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

Get Pricing Information

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

Compare Sample Reports

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

Set the Date

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

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

The Takeaway

It might be tempting to skip the home inspection to save money or time, or to make your offer more appealing. After all, the average home inspection cost is $300 to $400 and could go higher. But a home inspection can provide an important layer of protection and reassurance that the money you’ve budgeted for your new home will be well spent.

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.

SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.

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


SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

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.

SOHL0124044

Read more
How Much Is Renters Insurance? Average Cost in 2022

How Much Is Renters Insurance? Average Cost in 2024

The Insurance Information Institute cites that the average cost of renters insurance across the United States is about $173 per year, according to their most recent data. That said, renters insurance premiums can vary widely based on where you live, your claims history, and your chosen coverage limits, among other factors.

Let’s take a look at renters insurance and what factors go into its cost.

What Is Renters Insurance?

Renters insurance policies offer similar coverage to homeowners insurance. The goal is to reimburse you for any losses that you suffer in an emergency. Imagine if you were renting a house and a leak flooded your clothing closet, destroying your entire wardrobe. Or if a burglar broke in while you were out and made off with your laptop and other electronics. These losses would be one level of pain. Not having insurance that could help you afford replacements would only add a whole other level to that!

It’s generally a good idea to purchase a renters insurance policy if you’re renting a home, regardless of whether it’s an apartment or a house. This holds true even if you are renting an apartment in a private home rather than an apartment complex. Your landlord may have homeowners insurance that is designed to reimburse them in the event of say, damage or a robbery. This however generally does not cover your assets in the event of a loss.


💡 Quick Tip: Online renters insurance can cover your belongings not just at home but also in your car and on vacation.

Average Cost of Renters Insurance by State

We’ve included the average annual renters insurance premiums for each state in the table below. This data is based on the latest figures from the Insurance Information Institute, a nonprofit organization that collects and shares data related to the insurance industry.

State

Average annual premium

Alabama $225.00
Alaska $186.00
Arizona $164.00
Arkansas $210.00
California $171.00
Colorado $161.00
Connecticut $180.00
Delaware $151.00
D.C. $159.00
Florida $182.00
Georgia $212.00
Hawaii $176.00
Idaho $148.00
Illinois $157.00
Indiana $164.00
Iowa $136.00
Kansas $162.00
Kentucky $157.00
Louisiana $247.00
Maine $148.00
Maryland $160.00
Massachusetts $172.00
Michigan $181.00
Minnesota $134.00
Mississippi $256.00
Missouri $172.00
Montana $153.00
Nebraska $143.00
Nevada $179.00
New Hampshire $147.00
New Jersey $154.00
New Mexico $180.00
New York $173.00
North Carolina $160.00
North Dakota $116.00
Ohio $162.00
Oklahoma $226.00
Oregon $154.00
Pennsylvania $152.00
Rhode Island $183.00
South Carolina $186.00
South Dakota $118.00
Tennessee $187.00
Texas $216.00
Utah $147.00
Vermont $151.00
Virginia $152.00
Washington $158.00
West Virginia $179.00
Wisconsin $128.00
Wyoming $146.00
United States average $173.00

Top 5 Most Expensive States for Renters Insurance

According to data from the Insurance Information Institute, the most expensive state for renters insurance in the nation is Mississippi. Renters in the Magnolia State pay an average of $256 per year for renter’s insurance. Let’s look at the top five:

State

Average annual premium

State ranking by cost

Mississippi $256.00 1
Louisiana $236.00 2
Oklahoma $226.00 3
Alabama $225.00 4
Texas $216.00 5

Mississippi and Louisiana are expensive states in terms of renters insurance because of their proximity to the coast. Being right on the Gulf Coast means residents are often vulnerable since hurricanes may first make landfall in these areas. The risk of loss is higher than inland.

Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana all lie in the infamous “Tornado Alley,” which is a strip of states, bordered by the Dakotas to the north and Texas to the south, that is historically prone to fiercely damaging tornadoes. Combined, these factors have resulted in higher renters insurance premiums due to each location’s heightened susceptibility to wind and storm damage.

Top 5 Least Expensive States for Renters Insurance

North Dakota is the least expensive state for renters insurance in the United States, according to data gathered by the Insurance Information Institute. North Dakotans pay an average of $116 per year for renters insurance coverage.

State

Average annual premium

North Dakota $116.00
South Dakota $118.00
Wisconsin $128.00
Minnesota $134.00
Iowa $136.00

In general, renters policies are lower in areas that aren’t subject to extreme weather (like hurricanes and tornadoes) and that have low crime rates.

What Factors Determine Cost of Renters Insurance?

The cost of your renters insurance may be influenced by a multitude of factors, the most prominent being the following:

•   Coverage limits

•   Deductible

•   Claims history

•   Location

•   Pets

•   Added coverage

Understanding these variables can go a long way towards reducing your costs and helping you choose the renters insurance policy that best suits your needs.

Coverage Limits

This is one of the key factors impacting the costs that you can control. Most insurance companies will give you a choice between higher and lower limits on your renter’s insurance policy.

Coverage limits are the maximum amounts an insurer is willing to pay in the event of a covered claim. There are different kinds of coverage (more on that below), and the limits offered usually range from as low as $10,000 in personal property coverage (the items in your home that could be damaged or lost) to as high as $500,000 in liability coverage (this be tapped if someone got injured at your house).

Generally speaking, the more insurance coverage you need, the higher your costs.

Deductible

The deductible is the other major component of your renter’s insurance costs that you can influence. In the event you file a claim, the deductible is the amount you agree to first pay out of pocket before renters insurance will kick in.

Your renters insurance deductible transfers risk from the insurer to you, when it comes to losses incurred in a covered claim. Consequently, insurers are willing to charge you a lower premium if you opt for a higher deductible, as this reduces how much they need to pay out. As you might guess, if you want a low deductible, so you would pay as little out of pocket as possible, your rates will be higher.

Depending on your insurance provider, your optional deductible will usually range anywhere from $0 to $2,000. In some instances, insurance providers will allow you to pick your deductible as a percentage of your total insurance limit, for example, if your policy limit is $10,000 and your deductible allotment is 10%, your deductible will effectively be $1,000 for each claim filed.

Claims History

Similar to your FICO score, insurance companies use what’s called a “CLUE” report (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) to track your history when it comes to filing insurance claims. This report contains information regarding all insurance claims filed within the past 5 to 7 years, regardless of whether you move or change insurer.

Repeated claims with hefty payouts can be a red flag for insurers and result in a hike to your insurance premiums. Beware that even claims filed under other types of insurance policies, like homeowners insurance, can impact your renters insurance premium.

Location

You know that saying about the three most important things in real estate are location, location, location? Well, in terms of renters insurance, location isn’t the only thing, but it’s a major variable in terms of how much you will pay. Are you renting a cabin in the woods, in a low-crime rural area? Or are you moving into an apartment in the middle of a major city, where robberies are common? Or are you perhaps planning on signing a lease for the sweetest beach shack, just steps from the shore? The location of your rental will impact how expensive your premium is.

Behind the scenes, insurance actuaries rely on complex formulas to price your premium; these take many factors into account, including the risk of natural disasters, crime, and fire, among other factors.

Depending on how risky the insurer perceives your area to be, expect to be charged a higher premium if you live in an area that’s especially prone to crime or natural disasters.

Pets

While we all love our pet pals, it’s fairly commonplace for pet owners to be charged higher premiums if they live with a furry friend. Regardless of how sweet your pet may be, insurers deem pets a liability risk, particularly when it comes to things like bites, scratches, and damage to personal property. Your renters policy will potentially pay out if your critter bites a guest or even nips someone while you are walking it in the lobby of your apartment building.

In some instances, insurers may be unwilling to insure certain types of pets; these are typically certain breeds of dogs or exotic animals deemed “higher risk.” Check with your insurer to verify whether or not your pet is covered under your renters insurance policy.

Added Coverage

Your policy will likely include standard coverage for personal property, liability, and loss of use (meaning expenses incurred if you can’t live in your usual dwelling) offered through your standard rental insurance policy. In addition, many insurers offer a suite of optional coverages, riders, and endorsements that you can tack onto your renter’s insurance policy to best suit your needs.

Naturally, added coverage comes with added cost. However, as renters insurance is fairly affordable, it usually adds only a few dollars a month.

Depending on your personal assets, it may be worthwhile to consider some of these optional coverages. Some of the most common add-ons/endorsements/riders offered through insurers are as follows:

•   Scheduled personal property: This ups the coverage limit for a specific named item or items that would fail to be fully covered under the policy limits of your standard renters insurance.

•   Replacement cost: Typically, an insurance policy will reimburse you for the actual cash value of an item. So if your 5-year-old laptop is stolen or destroyed, you’d be paid the current value of it. With replacement cost coverage, the depreciation is eliminated from the calculation of your property’s value, resulting in a higher payout in a covered claim.

•   At-home business: This covers damages to any business equipment you have at home that isn’t covered under a standard renters policy.

•   Pet damage: This sometimes allows you to add coverage for property damage and liability caused by pets that isn’t covered under your standard renters policy. Exclusions may apply for specific breeds or types of pets.

•   Earthquake coverage: This covers damage to your property caused by an earthquake, which isn’t typically covered under renter’s insurance.

•   Identity theft: This covers costs incurred if you’re ever the victim of identity theft, as well as fees for expert assistance when it comes to restoring your identity and resolving any fraudulent activity.

What’s Covered by Renters Insurance

The majority of renters insurance policies provide the following standard coverages:

•   Personal property: This covers any loss or damage to your possessions due to a covered event, such as fire or theft.

•   Liability: This covers any property damage or bodily injury costs that you’re found liable for in the event of a covered claim.

•   Loss of use: Also known as “additional living expenses”, this covers the costs of temporary housing in the event your rental is rendered unlivable due to a covered loss.

•   Medical payments to others: This covers the medical costs of guests that are injured on your property. Unlike liability insurance, this does not require you to be legally liable for any injuries.

Most insurance providers will allow you to adjust the limits on these coverages to suit your needs. Keep in mind, this will likely impact your renters insurance costs; more coverage will probably mean higher premiums.

Recommended: What Does Renters Insurance Cover?

Do You Need Renters Insurance?

Legally, you are not required to purchase renters insurance. However it’s advisable for most individuals to purchase renters insurance, as your landlord’s homeowners insurance policy will not cover any losses or damage to your personal property; nor will it typically cover any liability for bodily injury or property damage that occurs while the property is under lease.

Certain rental properties will require you to purchase and maintain an adequate renters insurance policy as part of your lease agreement. Make sure to check with your landlord to fully understand what your contract requires.


💡 Quick Tip: Did you know that, in most states, landlords can require tenants to carry a renters insurance policy? Fortunately, the average monthly cost is just $15.

Are There Ways to Save on Renters Insurance?

There are a variety of ways you can save on your renters insurance costs, these include bundling your insurance policies under one insurer, increasing the size of your deductible, and generally staying safe and claim-free. Here’s a closer look:

•   Bundle your insurance policies: Most insurance companies offer discounts for purchasing multiple policies through the same company. Purchasing renters insurance in tandem with other policies, like life or auto insurance, can result in cumulative discounts across all your insurance policies.

•   Increase your deductible: Raising the amount of your deductible increases your share of the costs in the event of a covered claim and consequently can lower the cost of your premiums.

•   Pay your entire premium at once: Some insurance companies offer a discount for paying your entire premium upfront as one annual payment rather than in monthly or quarterly installments. Check with your provider to see if they offer lump sum payment discounts.

The Takeaway

Renters insurance is relatively inexpensive when compared to other types of coverage, like homeowners, auto, or health insurance. However, it can prove invaluable in the event of any emergency that occurs on your rental property.

It’s a good idea to purchase a renters insurance policy when renting a home. Remember that your landlord’s homeowners insurance policy typically only covers their interests and generally will not reimburse your costs in the event of any incidents. Imagine losing all your possessions, or even just all of your clothes, to a fire. Or having a burglar break in and steal your electronics. Renters insurance can help minimize the pain by helping pay for you to replace what you’ve lost. That kind of peace of mind is well worth the usually inexpensive premiums these policies charge.

The Takeaway

Renters insurance is relatively inexpensive when compared to other types of coverage, like homeowners, auto, or health insurance. However, it can prove invaluable in the event of any emergency that occurs on your rental property.

It’s a good idea to purchase a renters insurance policy when renting a home. Remember that your landlord’s homeowners insurance policy typically only covers their interests and generally will not reimburse your costs in the event of any incidents. Imagine losing all your possessions, or even just all of your clothes, to a fire. Or having a burglar break in and steal your electronics. Renters insurance can help minimize the pain by helping pay for you to replace what you’ve lost. That kind of peace of mind is well worth the usually inexpensive premiums these policies charge.

Looking to protect your belongings? SoFi has partnered with Lemonade to offer renters insurance. Policies are easy to understand and apply for, with instant quotes available. Prices start at just $5 per month.

Explore renters insurance options offered through SoFi via Experian.


Photo credit: iStock/dragana991

Insurance not available in all states.
Experian is a registered service mark of Experian Personal Insurance Agency, Inc.
Social Finance, Inc. ("SoFi") is compensated by Experian for each customer who purchases a policy through Experian from the site.

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.

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.

SOPT0224001

Read more
TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender