If your house needs a little TLC, but you don’t have the cash to give it what it needs, then a loan could be a good route to take. After all, you could save up and make the repairs over time, but houses really can’t be ignored for long.
Put off repairs for a year or two and a bit of peeling flashing around your chimney can suddenly spiral into inner structural damage and mold to boot.
Many long-term homeowners will agree that houses are really much like babies who need constant pampering before they’ll let you sleep soundly through the night.
Whatever your home renovation needs must be, find out home improvement loans that can help you get the right financing, plus point you in the right direction of the best lenders out there.
What are the best home improvement loans of 2020?
We’ve combed through the plethora of loans specifically designed for home renovations and came up with our top picks.
As one of the largest lending marketplaces in the country, LendingTree is a great option for a home improvement loan. Rather than lend you the money themselves, the company will match you with a number of lenders who are willing to loan you the money.
The application process is relatively simple; you’ll start by filling out your personal information online. You’ll specify how much you’re looking to borrow and confirm your identity. Once LendingTree has run your credit score, you’ll receive a list of available loan offers.
Things to like about LendingTree:
- Easy online application
- Receive offers from multiple lenders at once
- LendingTree is highly rated among borrowers
Credible is another lending marketplace that allows borrowers to compare offers from a variety of different lenders. The company offers personal loans with rates starting as low as 5.99% APR.
You can take out a personal loan of up to $100,000 through Credible, and the company never charges any hidden fees. And when you apply for preapproval, the company will do a soft pull on your credit report. A soft pull means you don’t have to worry about your credit score taking a hit.
Benefits of using Credible:
- A simple online application process
- Low rates
- Soft pull on your credit report
- Compare offers from multiple lenders
Potential drawbacks of using Credible:
- Only borrowers with excellent credit will qualify for the best rates.
- You’ll still have to do your due diligence with any company you end up choosing.
Read our full review of Credible
LendKey is interesting because they lend to both contractors and homeowners. Beyond that, they offer some great perks for both types of borrowers.
Why they’re number one:
- Long repayment options (up to 15 years) to minimize monthly payments.
- Flexible eligibility requirements for general home improvements.
- Loan funds are paid directly to the contractor.
- No hidden fees.
- Unsecured loans with fixed APRs.
- Matches borrowers with lenders across the country to find you the best loan terms possible.
LendKey is really changing the way home improvement loans work.
SoFi is often considered one of the most user-friendly lenders because nearly everything can be done on the company’s website. Applying for a loan through SoFi is simple, and you can receive a quote in as little as two minutes.
SoFi’s loans come with low interest rates and fixed repayment terms. However, it could take up to a week to receive the funds, which is much longer than what other lenders offer.
Some of the advantages of SoFi:
- A seamless online application process
- No collateral required
- Low rates
- Fixed monthly repayment terms
Here are the possible downsides:
- Best for borrowers with good credit
- Could take up to a week to receive the funds
Prosper is a peer-to-peer lender and offers unsecured personal loans to borrowers with good credit. The company provides personal loans up to $40,000, and you need a credit score of at least 640 to apply.
Prosper does charge an origination fee of up to 5%, which can add up quickly. And if you have excellent credit, you may be able to find better rates elsewhere.
A few reasons we like Prosper:
- No collateral required
- Flexible loan terms
- No prepayment fees
Some things you may not like:
- Charges an origination fee between 2.41% and 5%
- Borrowers with poor credit may not qualify
Marcus by Goldman Sachs
Marcus by Goldman Sachs is a great option for anyone looking to take out an unsecured personal loan. You’ll need a minimum credit score of 660 to qualify, so borrowers with poor credit may need to look elsewhere.
The bank offers loans with an APR range between 6.99% and 28.99%. There is an APR discount if you enroll with autopay. The loan amount is limited to $40,000, so Marcus is a better option for individuals looking to make minor home improvements.
Reasons to consider Marcus:
- An easy online application process
- Competitive rates
A few potential downsides:
- Maximum loan amount of $40,000
- Borrowers with poor credit may not qualify
You don’t need a perfect credit score to get a decent loan. In fact, people with low credit scores are often able to get loans with Avant.
Why they’re so close to the top:
- They often review applications the same day they’re received.
- Great customer service available seven days a week.
- Access to funds is provided very quickly.
- The funds don’t have to be used for home improvement.
Why they didn’t quite reach gold:
- Not available in Colorado, Iowa, and West Virginia.
- They’re a new startup company, so they don’t have a lot of history yet.
- They have a loan maximum of $35,000, which is pretty low.
- Their APRs are a little higher than most other lenders, but that’s because they do try to cater to people with poor credit.
Why they rank in the top:
- With 8,700 branches across the United States, it’s easy to go in and speak with someone. That’s always a plus in this day and age.
- No origination fees for loans up $100,000.
- Interest Rates are pretty decent for an unsecured loan, and can be as low as 6.78%.
- Loan terms of one to five years.
What’s holding them back:
- The bank has done some pretty shady things as a company lately, one of which is signing up account holders for credit cards without their consent.
- They’ve also got some pretty sub-standard customer service reviews lately. You’ve got to take these things with a grain of salt because people are never as much in a hurry to leave a review as they are when they’ve had a bad experience.
- As of right now, you can’t sign up online for a home improvement loan unless you’re already an account holder with Wells Fargo. There’s really no good reason for them to be doing this, especially with it being the golden age of digital banking.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a home improvement loan?
Unlike a home equity loan, a home improvement loan does not require the use of anything to secure the loan. That means if there is no collateral the lender takes on more of a risk by giving out the loan.
How does the bank compensate for taking on a larger risk?
By charging higher interest rates to the borrower, of course. The interest rate depends on the borrower’s credit and financial situation, increasing more with higher-risk individuals.
A home improvement loan is really a type of personal loan that the borrower chooses to use towards his or her house. Home improvement loans generally have shorter repayment periods; usually only lasting a few years. On the other hand, home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) have repayment options of up to 20 years.
This means, depending on how much you take out, the monthly payments are usually higher than a home equity loan or a HELOC, but you could pay less in the long run because of the shorter loan term.
If you don’t pay on your loan, then your lender will send your account to a collections agency, but you can rest easy knowing they don’t have the right to take your house.
See also: Best Home Equity Loans of 2020
How can you qualify for a home improvement loan?
Qualifying is similar to applying for a more general personal loan. You’ll need to provide your social security number so that the lender can pull your credit report. The better your credit score, the better interest rate and loan terms you’ll qualify for.
Lenders also want to see that you have consistent income, so get a few financial documents ready to submit. Depending on your lender, this could include recent tax returns, bank statements, and/or pay stubs.
Your income compared to your debt obligations is also considered as part of your application. The lower your monthly debt payments compared to your income, the high loan amount you could qualify for.
If you’re having trouble qualifying for a personal loan, you may want to check with your local credit union. Credit unions are often the best place to get a personal loan, especially if you have less than average credit.
What can you use a home improvement loan for?
The lender may also consider the type of project you’re completing with the loan funds and how it will add to the value of your home. It could be anything “behind the scenes” like fresh insulation, new windows, or foundation repair.
Alternatively, you could also use your loans to upgrade something aesthetic in your home, like a kitchen or bathroom remodel. Swimming pools, decks, and new additions could also be potential projects with your loan funds.
Ultimately, you need to check with each specific lender to make sure your desired home improvement project qualifies. They made have restrictions on structural issues, or they could be lenient with how you use your funds.
Home Improvement Loan Alternatives
Here are some other options if you don’t qualify for a personal loan or simply just want to shop around for a better rate.
Home Equity Line of Credit
A home equity line of credit (HELOC) allows you to use the equity in your home as collateral. If you have equity in your home, this low-interest secured loan may be a better option for you.
See also: Best Home Equity Lenders of 2020
A cash-out refinance replaces your existing mortgage with a new one for more than your outstanding loan balance. You withdraw the difference between the two mortgages in cash. You can then use the cash for home remodeling, consolidating higher-interest debt, or other financial goals.