32 Inexpensive Ways to Refresh Your Home Room by Room

Spring is here, and for many people, that means seasonal cleaning and a home refresh. If you’re looking for some budget-friendly changes that will bring new life to your rooms, we have those for you.

Before you start, it’s a good idea to clear any clutter you may have. If you tend to hoard, you may want to begin your refresh by donating or throwing away items you no longer use. You may also want to review this list of home improvements that can increase the value of your home.

Living Room

Your living room is a gathering place. Whether you’re entertaining guests or just your kids, it should feel inviting and reflect your style, yet also be functional and versatile.

1. Paint

A fresh coat of paint can do wonders for any living space. Picking neutrals like white or beige ensures a clean and timeless look.

2. Statement furniture

If you don’t have the budget to buy all new furniture, you may want to consider picking one or two new pieces, such as a statement chair or a unique coffee table, that will update your space.

3. Area rug

A quality rug can anchor a room and add a subtle splash of color. It’s also a good idea to make sure it’s sturdy enough to handle high traffic. Adding a rug pad can be worth the additional cost because it can prolong the life of your rug.

4. Lighting

How you light a room can affect its overall feel. Installing dimmers can enable you to adjust the lighting depending on the mood you’re trying to set. Some new floor and table lamps can also allow you to subtly adjust lighting.

5. Clutter containment

If you still have a lot of “stuff” after your initial purge, you may want to consider storing it in decorative receptacles such as woven baskets or a storage ottoman. This is especially useful if you have kids with a lot of toys.

6. Framing

Buying nice frames to create a gallery on blank walls, or even just to display family photos on a side table can really personalize your space. For a modern touch, you may want to consider a digital photo frame for convenient streaming.

7. Window treatments

If your budget allows, investing in custom blinds or curtains can add depth to a room. For a more affordable option, you can buy curtains and rods from a home décor store and install them yourself, but don’t forget to take the proper measurements.

8. Sofa spruce-up

Purchasing a bold couch cover and swapping out your throw pillows can be a quick and inexpensive way to add color and patterns to your space. You can even consider tossing a faux-fur blanket over the arm of the sofa for both added texture and warmth.

9. Go green

Plants have always been a simple and effective way to bring life into a space. And these days you don’t even have to go to the store to find them. You can buy them online, learn about the varieties that work best in your environment, and even download apps that show you how to care for them.

10. Switch it up

Looking for a zero-cost home refresh option? You can try rearranging your furniture. Using apps like Modsy for floor plan ideas can help you find options that complement your lifestyle and make the most efficient use of your space.

Kitchen

Dreaming about that perfect HGTV kitchen? You can use our calculator to estimate just how much a full remodel may cost you. But if that still falls outside of your budget, you can still refresh your kitchen with some of the following affordable upgrades — no permits or contractor required.

11. Cabinet facelift

If your cabinets are looking dated, you may want to try putting a fresh coat of paint on them. For an added touch, consider changing out the hardware and installing new handles and drawer pulls.

12. Seat swap

You may want to consider upgrading worn or outdated bar stools in exchange for something sleeker. If purchasing new stools isn’t in your budget, changing the upholstery with new fabric and a staple gun can be an inexpensive DIY option.

13. Appliance upgrade

If your appliances aren’t working as well as they used to, or they’re nearing the 10 year mark, it may be time to replace them. Although this can get expensive, you can find bargains on bundles, especially during holiday sales, and some outlet stores offer steep discounts on open box appliances.

14. Fill a wall

If you have unused wall space, you may want to consider installing floating shelves for smaller items such as cookbooks, plants, and other knick knacks. Not only will the extra shelving provide more storage in your kitchen, but it can also create an eye catching display.

15. Light it up

For a style update with a big impact, you can look into replacing old lighting fixtures with modern pendants. They come in such a wide variety of styles and price points that there’s something for just about anyone’s taste, and budget.

16. Combine decor with utility

It’s easy to warm up a space by adding functional and fun items like fruit bowls, wall clocks, and even serving trays. All of which are both useful and aesthetically pleasing. There are even flat screen TVs capable of appearing as painted works of art, and blending into their surroundings.

17. Streamline storage

Your storage areas can also be the focus of a spring upgrade. Consider tossing expired foods from your pantry and doing a deep clean of your fridge and freezer. If you want to really get organized, consider storing your dry goods and refrigerated items in clear canisters and bins for easy identification and access, and using drawer dividers to separate utensils.

Bathroom

In an ideal world, a bathroom refresh would include a new vanity, shower and flooring. However, even if a demo is more idealistic than realistic, that doesn’t mean this space is out of bounds. You may want to consider starting small with a few less costly changes.

18. Hardware update

Replacing your outdated sink, bath and shower faucets can boost the appeal of just about any bathroom. By adding matching towel racks, door hooks, and vanity knobs and handles, you can achieve a cohesive upgrade that doesn’t break the bank.

19. Target: toilet

You may need a plumber to help, but if your porcelain throne is starting to show wear and tear, it may be time to replace it. You can buy a new toilet for just a couple hundred dollars online or at a home improvement store.

20. Mirror modern

If you have a long vanity with two sinks, you may want to consider installing two separate mirrors with bold frames. You can even hang a mirror with LED backlighting for a more modern hotel-like look.

21. Shower showcase

The shower curtain is one of the first things people see when they walk into a bathroom. Using it as an opportunity to reflect your style can be simple. Introduce a new look by finding a curtain with a cool pattern and adding a new curtain rod and rings.

22. Spa retreat

A bamboo bath mat that’s easy to clean and water-resistant can really elevate your space. So can candles and diffusers. Combine these with decorative shelves and you’ll instantly create a serene scene that could compete with any day spa.

Also consider donating your old towels and purchasing new high-quality ones to fit your new decor.

23. Accessorize

If you neatly display everyday items like a soap dispenser and toothbrush holder on a decorative tray, you can easily give your bath a tidy boost. You can also corral clutter by storing cosmetics in drawers.

24. Grout out

No budget for new tiles? How about putting some elbow grease into cleaning the grout on your existing tile floor and walls? Chances are you’ll end up with a noticeably cleaner, brighter space.

Bedroom

Your bedroom should be your haven after a long day of work. That’s why it can be helpful to create a peaceful setting so you can relax and get your best rest.

25. Bed frame & headboard

For a few hundred dollars, you can find an upholstered headboard that’s both fashionable and easy to assemble. It can create a dramatic difference in your bedroom’s appearance.

26. Paint

It’s pretty easy to refresh your walls over a weekend. If you want to liven up your space with some color, you can opt for soft hues such as pale blue or gray. For something more dramatic without the commitment, you can look into removable wallpaper.

27. New linens

To quickly liven up a boring bed, you can replace old sheets, blankets and pillows. You may want to consider colors and patterns that will create a peaceful sleeping environment.

28. Floors

Whether you have wooden floors or carpet, layering an area rug can help to create a sense of room separation and lend to a more cozy environment. If you want added texture, you may want to try shag or sheepskin rugs.

29. Lighting

Designing a unique lighting setup doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. You may be able to freshen up your space by installing sconces on each side of your bed. It can save table space and add decor to your wall.

30. Side tables

For a budget-friendly furniture refresh, you may want to consider replacing your side tables, especially if they’re not multi-functioning. Finding those with drawers can add extra storage space.

31. Closet clutter

Custom closets can get expensive very quickly. But you can give your closets a custom feel by Installing affordable hanging bars and shelves that not only look good, but help you organize your wardrobe.

32. Floor mirrors

Adding a full-length floor mirror to your bedroom can serve two purposes. Not only will it reflect light and make your room look bigger, but it can come in handy when you’re trying to pull together your daily outfits.

33. Art & photos

Many designers suggest thinking of your walls as a blank canvas to display your style and the people you love. You can achieve this by hanging your favorite photos or artwork in eye-catching frames.

The Takeaway

From mid-century modern to bohemian chic, even small changes can make your home feel new again. Before you start, you may want to get design inspiration from home magazines and websites. Figuring out how much you want to spend can help you prioritize which changes are most important to you. And finally, you can make staying within that budget a lot easier by choosing upgrades that you can do yourself and by shopping online to compare prices.

And if you’re so inspired to tackle a larger home makeover project that requires a bit more effort, a home improvement loan may be the way to go. SoFi’s no-fee home improvement loan could help you foot the bill of your kitchen reno or bathroom demo, with no collateral required. Plus, it’s possible to get your funds the same day* which can help fast track your remodel.

Learn more about how a home improvement loan can help with your remodel.


* Same-Day Personal Loan Funding: 92.6% of typical SoFi Personal Loan applications, excluding Direct Pay personal loans and personal loan refinance, from January 2021–April 2021 that were signed before 7pm ET on a business day were funded the same day.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

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What To Know About Personal Loans to Buy Land

If you don’t have the cash on hand to buy land, you may have considered using a personal loan for the purchase. Using a personal loan to buy land can be an option, but there may be others depending on your financial situation. Here, you’ll get information that might help if you’re wondering if you can use a personal loan to buy land.

What Are Personal Loans?

Personal loans work as a flexible source of funds that can be used for a variety of purposes. Since they’re typically unsecured loans — there isn’t collateral backing them up — lenders may consider them high-risk loans.

Recommended: What Are Personal Loans Used For? And How to Apply 

Why Use a Personal Loan to Buy Land?

A borrower might think about using a personal loan to buy land if they don’t have enough savings to buy outright the land they plan to build a home on.

A Personal Loan May Be Cheaper Than Other Financing Options

It may be a more affordable option to use a personal loan for a land purchase if you qualify for a lower annual percentage rate (APR) on the loan. If your credit score is high enough and you have a solid credit history, you might be able to find a personal loan with a better interest rate or more favorable terms than a land loan.

A Personal Loan May Offer Shorter Loan Terms

Some personal loans offer shorter loan terms than land loans. If you think you could pay off the personal loan quickly, it might make sense to have a shorter time frame to work with in order to pay down this debt before tackling the home mortgage debt.

Reasons Not To Use a Personal Loan to Buy Land

There are some things you may want to consider when choosing to finance for your land purchase, and whether a personal loan is the best type of loan for your financial situation.

•   A personal loan might offer higher interest rates than other types of financing that are specifically for land purchases.

•   Your credit may not be strong enough to get a personal loan for land at the rate you want.

•   You might not receive favorable terms for a personal loan if your credit score is merely average.

•   A personal loan will likely need to be paid off quicker than a land loan.

•   Having a personal loan can affect mortgages and the rates or terms you may be offered. If you have multiple personal loans and a high debt-to-income ratio or if you apply for a mortgage within a short time after you borrowed the personal loan, your credit score could decrease, possibly affecting your mortgage qualification.

Recommended: 11 Types of Personal Loans & Their Differences

Personal Loan vs Land Loan

Personal Loan Land Loan
Loan proceeds can be used for many purposes Loan is specifically for purchase of land
Can be secured or unsecured Generally an unsecured loan
Loan terms typically between one and five years May have terms between 10 and 30 years
Potentially high interest rates (10% to 25% APR) depending on applicant’s creditworthiness More likely to have an APR of 4% to 5% depending on the type of land being financed
Higher interest rate can mean the loan will cost more over time Interest costs could be lower than on a personal loan

Different Kinds of Land Purchases

Land to be purchased can come in a few different types. You might be looking at a plot of land that doesn’t have any improvements or a lot in a subdivision that’s ready for construction.

Raw Land

Land that has no improvements at all is raw land. There are no utility lines on the land, there may be no easy access to it, and it has typically never had housing developed on it.

Unimproved Land

A step up from raw land is unimproved land, which sounds like the same thing but is different in a few ways. Unimproved land generally has easier access than raw land — there may be a road leading to it — and it may have accessible utility lines — but no meters or boxes specifically for one home. It may never have had a home built on it, but it would likely be easier to do so than on raw land.

Finished Lots

A lot in a neighborhood or subdivision is generally referred to as a finished lot or improved land. There are typically completed roads and sidewalks and utilities ready to be hooked up to individual homes. The landscape may have been graded or leveled so a build can start relatively easily.

Raw Land Unimproved Land Finished Lot
No improvements whatsoever May have nearby utility lines available to access Generally, ready for building to start, with utilities and roads in place
May not have easy access via any type of road May have a road nearby or leading to it, but the road may be unpaved Usually accessible via paved roads
Offers creative freedom to potential home builder, within limits of any codes or ordinances in place Likely similar to raw land, in that there may be few building restrictions May be limitations to design, landscaping, and other aesthetics based on community guidelines

What Type of Loan Should You Use to Develop Land?

Borrowing money to develop land involves some extra considerations beyond buying a lot in a subdivision. Thinking about what you want to do with the land, whether you have the time to manage a construction project, as well as whether you are prepared to take on more debt for a mortgage once the land is developed and ready for a build are all things that will need to be explored.

•   Land Only Loan: This type of loan means you’ve secured a plot of land you may want to build on in the future, but you may not be ready to right now or you may still be looking for the right contractor to work with.

•   Construction Loan: With this type of loan, you’ll work with a contractor to decide on a budget for the home construction and connect with a bank to get a loan that allows you to use loan funds as you need them, similar to a line of credit.

Alternatives to Land Loans and Personal Loans to Buy Land

A personal loan or a land loan are just two possibilities for financing a land purchase. If neither of those options work for your financial situation, you may want to consider others.

USDA Loans

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has loans available to help borrowers buy land. Section 523 loans can be used for housing to be constructed via a Self-Help method. Section 524 loans are designed for low-income and moderate-income families to buy land with more lenient home construction limits.

Recommended: What is a USDA Loan and Who Qualifies?

HELOC

A Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) is a line of credit secured by the equity in the borrower’s home. It’s often used to make repairs on a home or it can be used to purchase a rental property or improve an investment property. A HELOC may have lower interest rates than a personal loan.

SBA 504 Loans

These loans are designed for commercial real estate and construction. Usually, the borrower is using the SBA 504 loan for raw land, existing buildings, or purchasing or constructing a building on leased land. The business must occupy at least 60% of the land or building and have plans to occupy at least 80% within the next decade.

Seller Financing

Also called owner financing, this is a method of financing the land purchase in which the buyer repays the seller in monthly payments. An advantage to this method is that there generally aren’t restrictions on the types of land or construction that can be bought or sold with it and it can be used by anyone.

Considering a Personal Loan for a Land Purchase?

Deciding if you should use a personal loan to buy land is a decision that requires a lot of thought. Factor in your creditworthiness and how much money you need to borrow, what you plan to use the land for, as well as your target interest rate and loan term in your ideal scenario.

After researching the costs of buying vs. building a house, you might even decide that buying an existing home is the easiest option for you.

The Takeaway

Saving money for a cash land purchase may not be an option for you, or maybe you’d rather use your cash for other purposes. Whatever your reasons for financing a land purchase, there are a number of financing options available.

After comparing different options, you’ve decided that a personal loan is the right option for you, a SoFi Personal Loan could be a good fit. With no fees and competitive interest rates, an unsecured personal loan from SoFi could make that land purchase complete in a relatively short time.

Find your rate in just one minute.


Photo credit: iStock/Nicholas Smith

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SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

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. A hard credit pull, which may impact your credit score, is required if you apply for a SoFi product after being pre-qualified.
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Do You Still Need to Put a 20% Down Payment On a House?

Buying a home can be one of the biggest and most exhilarating purchases of your lifetime. Especially in a time when young people are having more difficulty locating affordable housing, finding yourself in a situation where you think you have finally saved up enough money for a down payment on your first home can be a huge milestone, but it can also bring up a lot of questions.

There can be times when simply figuring out how much money is required for a downpayment on any given loan program can put you into a tailspin. Though there are generally traditional numbers that many people stand by, there are many reasons to wonder if these guidelines still apply.

If you’re ready to buy your first home, you’ve likely heard that a 20% down payment on a mortgage has been the traditional standard. Generally speaking, putting 20% or more down on your new home can help lenders to view you as a less risky borrower, which may ultimately help you get a better deal on your loan terms.

But given that as of January 2020 the median home listing price was the U.S. is nearly $244,054, according to Zillow , 20% can be a substantial chunk of change for most people.

But is the 20% down sage advice or an opinion that’s no longer relevant? In the 2019 National Association of Realtor Profile Report , first time homebuyers financed 94% of their home and repeat buyers financed 84% of the purchase price. So, it seems that times are a changin’.

This article will review different loan programs and down payment options to hopefully provide clarity and demystify how different down payment options can impact your mortgage choices. These tips may help you better identify the loan programs that best fit your financial scenario to help put you on the road to owning your own home.

Why Does a 20% Down Payment Seem like the Magic Number?

private mortgage insurance (PMI). PMI benefits the lender in case of loan default which can cost anywhere from 0.140% to 2.33% of your total loan amount annually depending upon many factors.

Don’t confuse Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) with FHA’s Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) which is government loan insurance, not private loan insurance.

And then there’s the most obvious perk: putting more money down up front means that you’ll owe less, which normally equates to lower monthly mortgage payments and less interest charges over the life of the loan.

But let’s face it: Even if you’re making a decent—heck, a pretty awesome—salary, saving up 20% of the total cost of a home can be difficult, especially if you’re paying rent, juggling student loans, and trying to reach other long-term goals, including saving up for a retirement. Today, it can seem that the goal of owning your home is close to impossible.

But think again.

There may be some very valid reasons why it might just be more beneficial for you to put down less than 20% on your dream house. Again, it will depend on your exact financial circumstances and long term goals, but it could be worth considering the following:

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

Preserving Your Nest Egg

Putting 20% down on a home might force you to rely heavily on funds you’ve worked hard to save, liquidating these funds, even for an investment, may not always be in your best interest.

Given the financial circumstances many people find themselves in, allocating a big chunk of change to put towards a house before you’ve covered your other important life expenses—such as an emergency fund, saving for retirement, and other important long-term financial goals— may not be the most prudent option for you in the long run.

Remember, you may be able to borrow money to pay for school, to buy a new car, and to buy a home, but you definitely can’t borrow money to pay for your retirement. So you may want to consider alternatives before you dip into your savings. And if there aren’t any other options available, you may want to check that all of your other financial bases are covered.

While you can withdraw qualified funds up to $10,000 from a traditional or Roth IRA without penalty to buy your first home, there are still taxes to consider.

With a traditional IRA, you have to pay taxes on the amount you withdraw, but with a Roth IRA, no taxes will be due if you’ve had the account for at least five years. This strategy could help you in the long run, especially if you expect income boosts as you make strides in your career.

If you are considering putting other financial goals on hold in order to buy your home, it might make sense to take a step back and look at your overall financial profile. This could help you see what makes the most sense for your circumstances. Our in-depth home buyers guide extensively covers such topics.

To be sure, there’s no hard and fast rule about how to manage your money since everyone’s situation is different. But if you’re considering buying a home, it is a good idea to find out how much home you can afford before starting the process. In addition, if you aren’t sure how to prioritize your other financial needs, taking the time to assess your unique situation could help you make the decision that satisfies your priorities now—without sacrificing the wellbeing of your future self.

Your Other Big-Ticket Goals Won’t be in Limbo

Veterans (VA) loan which allows for 100% financing? Or a First Time Homebuyer loan which may allow for as little as 3% down .

Putting down a smaller down payment could allow you to get in the housing market if you live in a popular city where you pay high rent or where home prices have soared in recent years.

Renting in the Bay Area? Lower down payment options on a new home could be a path to homeownership. And just like when searching for the perfect home, when it comes to landing on the right loan program and down payment percentage, you’ll likely want to shop around in order to find your best fit—there’s no one size fits all.

So, no matter where you find yourself currently in your home-buying journey, it’s recommended to do your homework and weigh all the pros and cons to choose what works best for you.

Eager to get a jump on the home-buying process? Discover your potential rate on a SoFi mortgage loan in less than two minutes.

We’re on your side to put you in your dream home with down payment options of as little as 10% on loan amounts.


Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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’swebsite .
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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SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

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Mobile Home Financing Options: Personal Loans and More

A mobile home, also referred to as a manufactured home, is a style of home built in a factory. This factory-made home is then placed on a trailer chassis, a set-up that allows the owner to move the home if need be.

In many cases, the owner rents or leases the land their mobile home sits on (such as in a mobile home park), but they own the actual home. Mobile home owners can also choose to place their homes on land that they own.

There are varying styles of mobile homes, cost ranges, and home loan options worth considering for those interested in financing a mobile home.

What is the Average Cost of a Mobile Home?

According to the Census Bureau’s Manufactured Housing Survey, as of September 2021, the average sale price nationwide for new mobile homes was $78,800 for a single-wide and $141,300 for a double-wide.

However, mobile home prices can vary greatly by region. For example, mobile home prices are typically lower in the South, but higher in the West.

The lowest average prices are in the Northeast, where the average for a new single-wide mobile home is about $76,100, and a double-wide mobile home is $124,100.

It’s important to remember when buying a mobile home that the costs don’t stop at the purchase of the home. If the mobile home owner lives in a development or mobile home park, they typically pay monthly fees or rent the land their home is situated on.

If someone chooses to set up their mobile home on private acreage, they may need to finance additional needs such as installing a foundation, decking and landscaping costs. These types of costs can vary greatly depending on the location of the land and what type of labor and materials they need.

While costs vary greatly depending on the location of the mobile home, if the homeowner owns or rents the land where the mobile home is situated and the type of mobile home, there are some average costs that can give an idea of what the expenses of buying a mobile home will look like.

Differences Between a Mobile Home, Modular Home and Manufactured Home

There are many types of mobile homes that can suit a variety of housing needs, budgets and lifestyles. These are a few of the more popular options that fall under the overarching mobile home category.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in 1976 established the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards (MHCSS), commonly known as the HUD code. The standards developed under this code regulated all construction aspects of mobile homes — or manufactured homes, which these types of homes were called after 1976.

Mobile Home Manufactured Home Modular Home
Term used before 1976; minimal construction supervision and tended to have safety issues Term used after 1976, when construction regulations established Modular building practices made popular in the early 20th century by Sears Roebuck Co. Must be built to local building codes.
Prefabricated (mass produced) components Custom-built components
Built to finish off site Built in sections off-site
Transferred as single unit to property it will reside on Completed sections transported to building site, then joined on solid foundation
Resale value is typically low: $10,000 or less Average price: $118,300 $100 to $200 per square foot; average total price $270,000

Different Types of Mobile Homes

There are generally three main sizes of mobile homes, and size is a big determining factor in the price of a mobile home. Larger mobile homes typically have more layout features that can add to the cost.

Single-wide Double-wide Multi-wide
600 to 1,300 square feet 2,000 to 2,500 square feet As large as 4,500 square feet
18 feet or less in width About 20 feet wide Width varies based on the specific layout of the home and features of the structure
90 feet or less in length Under 90 feet long About 50 feet in length
1 or 2 bedrooms 2 or 3 bedrooms 3 or more bedrooms
Limited layout options Additional rooms (e.g., dining room) may be an option Customization more possible
Average price $78,800 Average price $141,300 Average price $175,000

Using a Personal Loan to Buy a Mobile Home

Since mobile homes are not typically built on solid foundations and, therefore, can be moved more easily than a traditionally built home, they are often categorized as personal property rather than real property. Because of that, a mobile home buyer may not be able to get a traditional mortgage, a type of financing generally only available for purchases of real property.

Using a personal loan for a mobile home purchase, however, may be an option to consider for several reasons.

•   A cash payment for an average-priced mobile home, at $118,300, might be out of reach for a typical buyer without some sort of financing.

•   A personal loan is often an unsecured loan, which means the borrower doesn’t have to provide collateral to back the loan.

•   With a shorter term than a typical mortgage — perhaps just 10 years — a personal loan for a mobile home purchase could mean full ownership in a shorter amount of time.

Maximum Personal Loan Amount for a Mobile Home

Depending on the total cost of the mobile home, including moving and set-up costs, a buyer may still have to pay for a portion of the cost with cash. The maximum amount of a personal loan varies widely from lender to lender. Some lenders might only lend a maximum of $35,000, while others might lend up to $100,000.

Of course, the amount of personal loan an applicant might qualify for and the interest rate that may be offered, in addition to other loan terms, will vary depending on each applicant’s overall creditworthiness.

Things To Consider When Buying a Mobile Home

Other than how to finance a mobile home purchase, there are several things to think about when comparing potential future homes.

Location

Deciding on a preferred location to live is the same no matter what type of home is being purchased. Since a mobile home can be moved, though, there is some flexibility with this factor.

A mobile home can be placed on land owned by the homeowner, if the buyer wants to have some extra space. There are also mobile home communities, in which the lot is rented. These lots are typically just large enough to accommodate the mobile home, with minimal yard space.

Size

Mobile homes are built in a wide variety of sizes. The living area sufficient for a single homeowner might be much less for a family of four or five people. In addition to the width options of single-wide, double-wide and triple-wide mobile homes (see table above), there are also different lengths of mobile homes to choose from.

A small, single-wide mobile home may only be 60 feet long, with less than 1,000 square feet of total living space. A single person could live comfortably in this space or two people could share this space.

An average size, double-wide mobile home could be the same length as a single-wide, but double the width and so can have additional bedrooms and perhaps an additional bathroom. At an average of 1,600 square feet, a mobile home of this size can accommodate a family of two adults and two children.

A triple-wide, or multi-wide, mobile home is often similarly sized to an average suburban home, at just over 2,000 square feet. A home of this size could accommodate a larger family, or even extended family.

Condition

Mobile homes of any size can be purchased new, directly from the manufacturer or home builder (in the case of a modular home), or from a mobile home dealer. Buyers of new mobile homes may be able to choose from a selection of decor options, such as paint color, types of flooring, countertop styles, and more. Some mobile home manufacturers and dealers may offer standard options with the ability to upgrade at an extra cost.

Pre-owned mobile homes are likely to be available from a dealer or from the current owner. The condition of a pre-owned home, whether a mobile home or a traditionally built home, depends on how well the previous owner or owners maintained it. Comparing multiple mobile homes is important when looking for a home that will work for your needs.

It’s possible to remodel a mobile home, much like any other home can be remodeled. The main thing to keep in mind when planning to remodel any home is the remodeling budget.

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

Financing a Mobile Home

Those looking for mobile-home financing may have a few options available to them, but financing a mobile home can be more difficult than with a traditionally built home. However, if a mobile home meets certain requirements, it may be possible to qualify for a traditional home loan. Some typical requirements are:

•   The mobile home must sit on a foundation and have its wheels and axles removed so it is stationary.

•   The borrower needs to own the land under the mobile home.

•   Generally, the mobile home must be at least 400 square feet in size.

•   Comply with HUD regulations.

These requirements qualify the mobile home as real property, which makes it eligible for a mortgage. If a mobile home does not meet the requirements to be classified as real property, though, it will be classified as personal property and other financing options will be necessary.

Personal Loan

Using a personal loan for mobile home financing is a common way to pay for the purchase of this type of home. Some mobile home buyers may use a combination of cash and personal loan funds for the purchase. Others may purchase land with cash and use a personal loan to buy the mobile home itself.

A benefit of using a personal loan is that it’s typically an unsecured loan, meaning the home does not have to be used as collateral against the loan, and the homeowner would not be at risk of losing the home if they default on the unsecured personal loan used to buy the mobile home.

Fannie Mae

If the title includes both the mobile home and the land it resides on, and qualifies as real property, then a manufactured home loan under the Fannie Mae MH Advantage ® program may be possible. The program offers up to 30-year term fixed-rate mortgages, as well as 7/1 and 10/1 adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs). The down payment can be as low as 3% for some borrowers. Investment properties and single-wide mobile homes are ineligible for this type of loan.

Freddie Mac

Similar to the Fannie Mae program, borrowers may qualify for a manufactured home loan under the Freddie Mac CHOICEHome ® program if the home meets certain qualifications and qualifies as real property. Fixed-rate mortgages and 7/1 and 10/1 ARMs are available to qualified borrowers. Primary residences and second homes may qualify, but, similar to Fannie Mae, single-wide mobile homes and investment properties do not qualify. Down payments can start as small as 5%.

FHA

Under the HUD Title I program, certain FHA-approved lenders can provide loans to eligible borrowers to help finance purchasing or refinancing a mobile home, the lot a mobile home will reside on, or both. Through this program, the FHA insures the lender against any losses that may occur if the borrower defaults on their loan payments.

The FHA does not lend money, they simply insure the loans to encourage lenders to offer home loans for the purchase of a mobile home. The borrower still has to meet certain credit requirements and show an ability to repay their loan in regular monthly installments. The borrower and the lender negotiate the interest rate, but the lender must offer a fixed interest rate for the entire term of the loan, which typically lasts 20 years.

The maximum loan amounts are:

•   Manufactured home only: $69,678.

•   Manufactured home lot: $23,226.

•   Manufactured home and lot: $92,904.

The maximum loan terms are:

•   Manufactured home or a single-section manufactured home and lot: 20 years.

•   Manufactured home lot loan: 15 years.

•   Multi-section manufactured home and lot: 25 years.

US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Certain VA lenders offer mobile home financing for the purchase or refinance of a mobile home, as well as the lot. Using the loan to improve the lot, refinance a mobile home in order to buy a lot or simply refinance an existing VA mobile home loan are possible.

The mobile home must be considered a real property and have a permanent foundation. If it does not meet real property qualifications, the VA will only guarantee 40% of the loan amount.

It is possible to put no money down, without needing mortgage insurance, if the borrower meets the lender’s credit and income requirements. Potential home loan terms can range from 15 to 30 years.

US Department of Agriculture (USDA)

The Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program is specifically for housing, including manufactured homes, in rural areas. The USDA works with lenders to guarantee home loans to low- and moderate-income borrowers to make home ownership more attainable. Applicants must meet income and other eligibility requirements. The property must be considered real property, be in a designated rural area and be less than one year old, among other requirements, to be eligible for the program. Qualified program applicants may be able to receive financing with no down payment.

Where Can I Get a Personal Loan to Buy a Mobile Home?

Finding a personal loan for a mobile home purchase is similar to finding a personal loan for any other purchase. Personal loans can be used for many purposes, and lenders may not ask why you’re applying.

Personal loans can be applied for through traditional banks, credit unions or online lenders.

Getting Approved for a Personal Loan

Approval for a personal loan will be dependent on the applicant’s overall creditworthiness. Lenders will typically check the applicant’s credit report and credit score, verify income and employment, and ask for proof of identification and address.

An applicant with a solid credit report reflecting a history of responsible borrowing will be more likely to qualify for a lower interest rate and more favorable terms than an applicant with poor credit.

The Takeaway

There are a lot of things to consider when looking for a home loan for a mobile home, and financing is just one of them. Deciding to use a personal loan to buy a mobile home will narrow the financing choices down a bit, but comparing unsecured personal loan lenders is still important.

SoFi Personal Loans are quick and easy to apply for, and most importantly, are flexible. SoFi’s unsecured personal loans have no fees and fixed, competitive interest rates.

Check your rate on a personal loan from SoFi

FAQ

Can you get a personal loan for a mobile home?

Yes, personal loans can be used to buy a mobile home. Applicants will need to meet qualification requirements of the lender they’re working with.

What is the maximum personal loan amount for a mobile home?

The maximum loan amount is dependent on the lender. Some lenders may have higher loan amounts than others.

Where can I get a personal loan to buy a mobile home?

Traditional banks, credit unions or online lenders may offer personal loans to buy a mobile home.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

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. A hard credit pull, which may impact your credit score, is required if you apply for a SoFi product after being pre-qualified.
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.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products 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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Source: sofi.com

Examining the Race Gap in Homeownership

Despite the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and other federal laws, a large race gap in homeownership continues to exist across the United States. The Black homeownership rate in the fourth quarter of 2021 stood at 43%, compared with 74% for non-Hispanic whites, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

A large race gap in homeownership rates has existed since at least 1900, but the disparity today appears to be among the worst in modern American history. Below we further examine the race gap in homeownership and identify possible solutions.

History of Racial Housing Disparities

The United States has a long history of racial housing disparities. The National Community Reinvestment Coalition’s 2020 Home Mortgage Report examined the disparities from 1900 to 2020 and found the gap in homeownership rates between Black and white families reached its lowest level of 23 percentage points in 1980 and its highest level of 30 percentage points in 2015.

Newer data shows that the Black-white gap in homeownership rates exceeds 31 percentage points amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s homeownership statistics for the fourth quarter of 2021.

The homeownership rate as of Q4 2021 stood at 74.4% for non-Hispanic white households, 61.2% for Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander families, 48.4% for Hispanic families of any race, and 43.1% among Black households, according to the census data.

A number of factors have contributed to the race gap in homeownership, including the legacy of race-based discrimination in the housing market.

Lasting Effects of Redlining

Redlining, the discriminatory practice of denying home loans and other credit services to ethnically diverse neighborhoods based on the race, color, or national origin of the residents of those neighborhoods, is one of the factors explaining America’s long-standing race gap in homeownership.

The federal government institutionalized redlining in the 1930s when a now-defunct federal agency, the Home Owners’ Loan Corp., created “residential security maps” in dozens of cities across the country to systematically deny mortgages in neighborhoods of color.

HOLC ceased to exist in 1951, and Congress later outlawed redlining with the Fair Housing Act of 1968, but lending discrimination in the housing market has persisted.

An article published in the journal SSM-Population Health in June 2021 found that “redlining has continued to influence racialized perceptions of neighborhood value and practices that have perpetuated racial inequities in lending.”

“Decades of racism in the housing market,” the article adds, “have prevented people of color, particularly Black Americans, equal access to capital, low-cost loans, and homeownership.”

The Department of Justice continues to enforce the Fair Housing Act to address ongoing allegations of modern-day redlining.

Current Black Homeownership Gap

As mentioned, the current gap in homeownership rates between Black and white families is more than 31 percentage points. The vast majority of white families own residential property, while the majority of Black families do not, data shows.

Homeownership is often regarded as the American dream, but not everyone who wants to buy a house is able to get financing. The overall denial rate for home-purchase loans among all applicants in 2020 stood at 9.3%, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Bureau data shows that 18.1% of Black applicants had their mortgage loan requests denied in 2020, compared with 6.9% of non-Hispanic white applicants.

This first-time homebuyer guide recommends downloading your credit reports before submitting any applications for home loans. Creditworthy applicants who have home loan applications denied may be victims of discrimination. You can get free credit reports at annualcreditreport.com and can check your credit scores in several ways.

Homeownership by Race

The Census Bureau in 2022 released data highlighting homeownership by race as of Q4 2021. Here’s what the data revealed:

Race Homeownership rate
Non-Hispanic white alone 74.4%
Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander 61.2%
Hispanic (of any race) 48.4%
Black alone 43.1%
Other (including mixed races) 57.6%
All (nationwide population) 65.5%

Fixing the Black Homeownership Gap

The Urban Institute, a nonprofit research organization, has a five-point framework aimed at reducing the Black homeownership gap. Here are the five points:

1. Advance Local Policy Solutions

Local policy reforms, including the removal of any discriminatory terms in homeowner and condominium associations and possible property tax relief for low-income and moderate-income taxpayers, can help reduce the Black homeownership gap.

Expanding small-dollar mortgages could also make a difference.

2. Tackle Housing Supply Constraints and Affordability

Promoting affordable housing nationwide, including new investments in historically segregated and devalued neighborhoods, may help reduce the Black homeownership gap.

Public policy leaders could also review the viability of lease-to-own programs as a pathway to homeownership.

3. Promote an Equitable and Accessible Housing Finance System

Greater access to down payment assistance programs for economically disadvantaged consumers may reduce the Black homeownership gap.

This online mortgage calculator shows how home loan seekers can lower their monthly mortgage payments and total interest charges by making a larger down payment on a home.

4. Accelerate Outreach for Mortgage-Ready Millennials

Reaching out to mortgage-ready millennials and improving tax credit incentives for renters to become homeowners may help reduce the Black homeownership gap.

Public-private partnerships can scale up additional programs aimed at bolstering homeownership among low-income people.

5. Focus on Sustainable Homeownership and Preservation

Funding programs to prevent foreclosures could help the 43.1% of Black families who own residential property to maintain their wealth.

Providing homeowners of color with financial education services may also help preserve homeownership among Black families.

The Takeaway

Racial housing disparities persist, despite federal laws designed to equal the playing field. The effects of redlining echo today, when 74% of white families own residential property and just 43% of Black families do. Solving this social inequity may require significant action and reform. See how employers can help first-time homebuyers.

If you’re looking for a mortgage lender, SoFi can help you achieve the American dream. Qualified first-time homebuyers can put just 3% down.

Explore SoFi fixed-rate mortgage options and get prequalified in minutes.


Photo credit: iStock/Morsa Images
SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

SoFi Home Loans
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. SoFi Home Loans are not available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.

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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Source: sofi.com

10 Disadvantages of Modular Homes: What to Consider Before Purchasing

Looking for a home that’s ready to live in right out of the box? A modular home may be the right fit, but there are reasons to possibly hesitate.

By the way, it’s easy to confuse modular homes and manufactured homes. Modular home components are constructed in a factory and put together on a permanent foundation; the homes must adhere to all building codes. Manufactured homes (called mobile homes before 1976) are attached to a chassis with wheels and transported to the homesite. They are built according to Department of Housing and Urban Development standards.

OK. So you’re interested in building a modular home? Read on before purchasing a prefabricated place.

How Are Modular Homes Constructed?

One of the biggest differences from a traditional home is the way kit homes are constructed. Modular homes are composed of modules that are assembled in a factory and delivered to the homesite in one or more trips.

The benefit of constructing modular home components in a factory is the controlled environment. Because the parts are assembled under ideal conditions (perfect temperature, humidity, etc.), buyers can usually expect a consistent, high-quality build.

The Problems of Modular Homes

Though they can offer quality, modular homes may carry disadvantages. Here are 10 common problems with modular homes.

1. Foundation Cost

A downside of modular homes is pouring the foundation. While the bulk of the home is assembled off-site, modular home owners will still need to lay a foundation on the property. Building a foundation can cost between $5,000 and nearly $20,000, on average.

2. Payment May Be Required in Full

One of the problems with prefabricated houses is financing. Similar to financing mobile homes, modular homes have fewer lending options because a home doesn’t yet exist.

Most modular home buyers will use a new-construction loan, which may require good credit or, in the case of an FHA or VA construction loan, be relatively rare. Given those issues, a modular home buyer may not qualify as a first-time home buyer or other lending assistance.

If that’s the case, the buyer may have to pay for the home in full. Even though the average modular home may run at least 15% less than its exact stick-built counterpart, that can be a prohibitive price tag if paid in full.

3. Hard to Guarantee Quality

One of the dangers of modular homes can be quality control. Portions of the home may be constructed in an ideal factory setting, but parts of it could be damaged during transport.

Similarly, because it’s built off-site, buyers don’t have the opportunity to check in on the build, meaning mistakes might not be caught until assembly.

4. Extra Costs

Buying a home out of the box sounds enticing, but the price tag can be misleading. One of the problems with prefabricated houses is the additional costs associated with them. Buyers pay not only for the home but also:

•   Land

•   Foundation assembly

•   Electrical, plumbing, and ductwork

•   Transportation

It can be challenging to predict these numbers, but they can be an unexpected cost on top of the price of the modular home.

5. Difficult to Make Modifications

Buying a home out of a catalog sounds exciting, but one of the disadvantages of modular homes is the cookie-cutter design. Depending on the builder, the buyer may not be able to choose custom finishes or other modifications. Modular homes don’t leave much space for creativity.

6. Customization Issues

While buyers may be able to pick from several floor plans, a downside of modular homes is that they’ll never be entirely customizable. If a buyer’s dream home includes a screened porch or attic bedroom, it might not be an option with their modular home build.

7. Hard to Finance

If modular home buyers choose to finance their purchase, they have limited options, as described above.

Similar to financing a tiny house, they may be able to finance the land.

Some buyers may find the terms of construction loans harder to qualify for, and the terms may be less favorable than those of a traditional mortgage.

8. Finding Land

Among the cons of modular homes is land limitations. The cost of a plot of land varies, of course, depending on where it’s purchased. Additionally, not all lots are zoned for modular homes. It may require an in-depth search to find land that’s the right fit.

9. Bias About Modular Homes

There may be tremendous interest in building modular homes, but a danger of modular homes is bias. While modern modular homes may be indistinguishable from traditional homes, they carry a stigma for some people. That could translate to issues getting building permits in a desired neighborhood or a general misunderstanding about the home.

10. Reselling Problems

Perhaps the biggest con of modular homes is the possible struggle for resale. Both real estate agents and future buyers may be biased against modular homes, even if it’s a high-end build, which could lead to a lower resale value than a traditional home of a similar build.

What to Look for When Choosing a Modular Home to Purchase

If you’re set on buying a modular home, here are things to consider:

•   Style of home. Modular homes come in various styles, from contemporary to log cabins. It may be important to buyers to work with a modular home manufacturer that suits their taste.

•   Manufacturer location. The cost of transporting a modular home can be high. It may be essential for the budget-conscious modular home buyer to work with a manufacturer close to the home’s final destination.

•   Custom builds. Some modular home manufacturers may offer more customizable options, including floorplans and finishes.

•   Timeline. Some modular homes go up relatively quickly, while other manufacturers could be on a monthlong back order.

Explore Home Financing Solutions With SoFi

There may be common problems with modular homes, but no home is without disadvantages. A modular home might be the perfect fit for the price-conscious buyer with an eye toward environmentalism and time saving.

For some buyers, the benefits of modular homes will outweigh the downsides. If that’s the case, consider a cash-out refinance or no-fee unsecured personal loan from SoFi to build your fab prefab.

And SoFi has partnered with SpringEQ to allow homeowners to tap into their home equity.

With helpful tools, including a mortgage calculator and a help center for home loans, SoFi can help make the home buying process simpler.

FAQ

Are modular homes dangerous?

The dangers of modular homes are minimal. As long as the assembly of the modular home complies with local building codes, modular homes are as safe as a traditionally built home.

Is the value of modular homes decreasing?

Modular homes appreciate and depreciate similar to traditional builds.

Where can you get financing for modular homes?

Among the possibilities from various lenders are a construction loan, home equity loan or line of credit, a cash-out refi, and a personal loan.

How long will a modular home last?

With proper maintenance and high-quality materials, a modular home should last as long as, or longer than, any traditionally built home. Some of the first modular homes, built in the early 1900s, are still standing today.


Photo credit: iStock/turk_stock_photographer

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

SoFi Home Loans
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. SoFi Home Loans are not available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.

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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Source: sofi.com

One Dozen Home Staging Tips for Homeowners Trying to Sell

If you want to sell your home faster and for the highest possible price, you may find that it helps to thoughtfully stage it with potential buyers in mind.

Even in a hot real estate market, staging can be a useful tool. First impressions can be critical as buyers must decide quickly how much to offer or whether to make an offer at all.

A 2021 survey from the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) found that 82% of buyers’ agents said staging made it easier for their buyers to visualize a property as their future home.

What Is Home Staging?

Staging your home to sell typically involves cleaning, decluttering, and rearranging furniture — or even replacing your current decor with borrowed pieces that can better showcase the home.

It’s all about making your home as appealing as possible to attract buyers, minimize the amount of time it takes to sell, and maximize your return, goals that can be especially important if you’re trying to buy and sell simultaneously.

How Home Staging Can Affect Time and Price

It’s hard to predict exactly how staging will affect any particular home sale, but here are some factors to consider.

Research Shows Benefits for Sellers

Twenty-three percent of the buyers’ and sellers’ agents who responded to the NAR survey said staging increased the dollar value offered between 1% and 5% compared with similar nonstaged homes on the market. And 31% reported that staging a home for sale greatly decreased the amount of time the home was on the market.

A 2020 Real Estate Staging Association review of 13,000 staged homes found that 85% of those homes sold for 5% to 23% over list price, and they spent an average of 23 days on the market.

You Have Competition

As soon as you list your home for sale — whether you’re selling traditionally or with owner financing — you start competing with every other house in the neighborhood and the surrounding area. Depending on that competition, as well as your goals for getting the house sold and buying a new one, staging could be a worthwhile strategy for making your home stand out.

Recommended: 2022 Home Loans Education Portal

Expectations Can Be High

Buyers who watch home renovation shows may have high expectations for what your house should look like. Sixty-eight percent of the NAR 2021 Profile of Home Staging respondents said buyers were disappointed by how homes they looked at compared with homes they saw on TV.

Should You Hire a Professional Stager?

While some parts of the home staging process may be easy to DIY (paring down the number of personal photos and knickknacks, for example), it may help to hire a professional.

An experienced home stager will likely have more insight into what buyers in your area are looking for and what the current home trends are. A professional also may have access to furniture, art, and other décor items that could transform your home for a quick and/or more lucrative sale. And the amount you get for your current home could directly affect how much you can spend on your next one.

Here are some things to consider when deciding whether or not to hire a home stager.

Cost

Professional home staging can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, depending on how much work the stager does, how big your house is, whether you decide to rent staging furniture, and how long the house is on the market. There are ways you might be able to cut the expense, however, including:

•  Meeting with the pro to do a walk-through and consultation on how to stage your home to sell, but then doing the work yourself.

•  Asking the stager to work with your furniture instead of using rented items. (This could also save on storage costs.)

•  Focusing on a few important spaces, such as the entryway, the living room, and the master bedroom, instead of reworking your entire home.

Recommended: SoFi Mortgage Calculator

Fresh Eyes and Objectivity

Of course, you love your family photos, the tchotchkes you’ve collected through the years, and the paint colors you’ve chosen for every room. Buyers, however, might not.

An experienced stager can walk through and objectively point to the things that might need to be put away, cleaned, moved around, or refreshed before the house is photographed for the listing or has its first showing. A professional also may have home-staging tips to help you market to the types of buyers most often found in your area, whether that’s growing families who are upsizing or baby boomers who are downsizing their home.

Living With Someone Else’s ‘Look’

Stagers are trained to give the homes they work on the kind of polished, cohesive look buyers are used to seeing on HGTV. But living in a home that’s been styled for others may be a bit nerve-wracking. And if the furniture is not your own, you may have to keep kids, pets, and glasses of red wine away to avoid any damage.

Exposing Bigger Problems

Moving furniture around to create a more open look could also create some problems, if, for example, those changes expose a crack in the wall or a stain on the carpet. Making those fixes may delay getting your home on the market.

Pros and Cons of Hiring a Professional Home Stager

Marketing focus, objectivity Cost Eye for detail Reworking décor could expose bigger issues HGTV-worthy polish Feeling displaced

12 Tips for Home Staging Success

Whether you decide to hire a helper or do the work yourself, here’s a list of home staging ideas to keep in mind.

1. Clear the Clutter

Clutter is distracting and it takes up space. As soon as you hire a real estate agent, they’ll likely nudge you to sell, donate, or throw away anything you no longer use. Things you want to keep but won’t need for a while (seasonal clothing and sports equipment, photo albums and keepsakes, or books you hope to read someday), can be boxed up and stored until you move. But remember: Buyers will want to assess your closet space, so you may want to move those boxes to the basement or rent a storage space.

2. Depersonalize

Framed family photos, souvenirs, your kids’ artwork, and other personal items can get in the way when buyers try to envision themselves living in your home. Even the day-to-day stuff can divert attention from the illusion you’re trying to create. That means no shoes by the front door, no wet towels in the hamper, and trying to keep bathroom counters clear of everything but hand soap and guest towels.

3. Deep Clean

Neat and tidy is good, but crisp and gleaming is better. A clean house sends a message to buyers that you take good care of your home. If your place isn’t new, you still can try to make it look as new as possible. Shine up all the appliances. Scrub the sinks, tubs, floors, and toilets. Check the corners for cobwebs and the baseboards for dog hair. And don’t forget to dust the ceiling fans and bathroom exhaust fans. If you don’t have the time or energy to do it yourself, you may want to hire a cleaning service — or double up on the service you already have.

Recommended: The Ultimate House Maintenance Checklist

4. Repair All Damage

You know all those little dings, stains, and scuff marks you’ve become blind to? They can be a big turnoff for buyers — and they will see them. Why not do a thorough walk-through and make a list of required touch-ups and repairs? Then you can head to the home improvement store, get what you need to make the fixes, and get to work. And if something is beyond your skillset (a running toilet, broken appliance, or finicky fireplace), you can address it before buyers come through.

Recommended: What are the Most Common Home Repair Costs?

5. Focus on Essential Rooms

If you have a limited staging budget, you may want to focus on the rooms buyers tend to prioritize. Respondents to the NAR 2021 survey said staging the living room was most important to homebuyers, followed by the master bedroom and kitchen. And home offices may be gaining importance as more people are working from home: 39% of the survey’s respondents said they had staged a home office.

6. Neutralize the Décor

Decorating with neutrals — think 50 shades of gray — can be another big step toward depersonalizing your home. Your favorite colors may be bright and bold, but that might be a bit much for some buyers. (Their agent probably will tell them it’s an “easy fix.” But if they can’t get past the chartreuse kitchen or the green-striped wallpaper in the dining room, buyers may not be able to see their family using those spaces.)

To break up all the beige, gray, or white, touches that evoke a feeling of comfort can be used sparingly. For example, you can give your bathroom that spa vibe simply by adding a basket filled with crisp white towels. A bowl of lemons, potted orchids, or vases filled with fresh flowers can add a pop of cheer and color in the foyer or kitchen.

7. Let There Be Light

Put your home in the best light by letting in as much sunshine as possible during the day and turning on all the lights for night showings. (No need to make buyers fumble for switches.) Open the curtains and blinds (unless the view is a drawback). Keep pathways and porches well lit when the sun goes down. Replace burned-out bulbs. And think about bouncing a little light around rooms with well-placed mirrors, which can make a room appear larger.

8. Curb Appeal Matters

Why do all that work to fix up your home’s interior if there is a chance buyers won’t even get out of the car? First impressions are lasting, so put out the welcome mat (literally, make sure a clean doormat is outside the door) and freshen up your curb appeal.

Consider power-washing the walkway, and updating (or at least clean) outdoor light fixtures. In the winter, clear the snow. If you need a pop of color, you can do it with plants. And if the front door is dated or just dingy, think about fixing it up. If buyers have to wait a minute for you or an agent to let them in, they’re likely to notice if the door looks great … or doesn’t.

Recommended: Five Curb Appeal Ideas For Your House

9. Look Beyond the Porch

Depending on the weather, buyers may spend time outside checking the exterior of the house — front and back. If weather permits, you may want to sweep the leaves off the roof, try to get rid of any mold or mildew on the house or fences, clean the pool and deck, and wash the windows inside and out. The goal here is to make your home more appealing but also to help buyers focus on the fabulous features of your home instead of potential maintenance.

10. Create Space

To get a more open look, consider removing any oversized or extra pieces of furniture. A small bedroom may look bigger, for example, with just a dresser instead of a dresser and chest, or if you remove a bed’s oversized headboard or footboard. In the living room, smaller pieces may be preferable to an overstuffed sectional that seats 10. Remember, the living room is a key room for buyers, so it may be worth renting furniture that shows off its size and other details, such as built-in bookshelves or a fireplace.

11. Clear the Air

If you have pets, or if there’s a smoker in your home, it may require some extra steps to keep buyers from sniffing them out. You may want to have the rugs cleaned, and if you haven’t done it in a while, it may help to have the ductwork cleaned as well. Mildew may be another odor issue. If odors linger, open the windows if possible, but be sparing with sprays and plug-in air fresheners — some buyers may be sensitive to certain smells. If a quick cover-up is necessary, consider baking some cookies.

12. Define Rooms

Give each room a purpose, even if you don’t use the space that way yourself. Could a spare bedroom be turned into a craft room or office? Would your attic be a great space for a teen hangout room? Could your basement be transformed into a home theater by moving a TV downstairs and adding a popcorn machine? Get buyers excited about the possibilities.

The Takeaway

Any competitive edge a home seller can find is worth considering. Home staging could boost the timeline and bottom line of the deal.

For more tips and homeowner resources, check out SoFi’s 2022 Guide to All Things Home.

Ready to move on to a new home? Look into SoFi’s mortgage loans today.

Photo credit: iStock/FollowTheFlow


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

SoFi Home Loans
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. SoFi Home Loans are not available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.

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.
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.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products 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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Source: sofi.com

Real Estate Whisper Listings: The New Secret to Home Buying?

Between open houses and bidding wars, buying a home can be draining. Meanwhile, in-the-know and select clientele have the chance to tour and purchase properties before they even hit the market.

The practice, known as pocket listings or whisper listings, is becoming more common in real estate.

This insider access may sound tempting, especially in a hot housing market, but there are legal caveats and financial considerations to account for before pursuing a pocket listing.

What Are Whisper Listings?

Whisper listings are properties that are promoted by a real estate broker to an exclusive group of trusted agents to find a buyer who can pay the desired asking price. In other words, agents utilize their professional networks to sell a property rather than putting it on the market. Prospective buyers outside an agent’s inner circle will likely never know the property was for sale.

To further clarify the whisper listings definition, it can be helpful to highlight how they differ from traditional real estate transactions.

For instance, pocket listings are not listed on a multiple listing service (MLS) — the databases real estate professionals use to help clients buy and sell property — even though they’re technically for sale. Popular listing websites like Zillow and Realtor.com source many of their listings from MLS feeds.

You also won’t find a “For Sale” sign in the front yard of a secret real estate listing.

Nationally, whisper listings accounted for 4% of real estate sales and rising in 2021, compared with 2.4% in 2019, the CEO of Redfin said. In more choice neighborhoods and communities, the figure can be as high as 10%.

Are Pocket Listings Legal?

Yes, although there are consumer rights and laws that offer some protection to prospective homebuyers. For example, the Fair Housing Act gives buyers the right to be free from housing discrimination during the sale, financing, or rental of a property.

Because of their exclusivity, whisper listings have been criticized as discriminatory. In fact, the National Association of Realtors® established a clear cooperation policy in 2019 with the goal of reinforcing consumer benefits and competition in the housing market.

The new policy requires Realtors to list any property they are marketing to buyers on association-owned MLSs. New listings must be submitted within one business day of any public marketing, meaning other agents should be aware of and able to see the property the following day.

There are some loopholes in the policy that allow whisper listings to continue in specific circumstances. Namely, Realtors can still take advantage of “office exclusives,” which are listings shielded from the public and marketed to their internal agency network. The agents in those offices can then share the property information with their clients.

Listing agents can also take advantage of the one-business-day grace period to promote the property to a select clientele. The policy is that “within one business day of marketing a property to the public,” which can include yard signs and flyers displayed in windows, “the listing broker must submit the listing to the MLS for cooperation with other MLS participants.” Since business days exclude weekends and holidays, the exclusive group of buyers can get a jump on the competition for putting in an offer.

How to Find Whisper Listings

By definition, pocket listings are about connections and insider knowledge. A useful place to start is by finding a real estate agent with a strong professional network and familiarity with the neighborhood you’re hoping to buy-in.

Experienced agents may be more prepared to figure out how to find pocket listings thanks to a larger client base, too. Having handled numerous real estate transactions in the community, they could have insight into when former clients want to put their homes back on the market.

They may also know the prices and terms that prior clients would be willing to part with their homes for. Essentially any property can be treated as a whisper listing if you’re able to make an offer on a house that is attractive to the owners — even if they weren’t considering selling.

Is It a Smart Approach to Home Buying?

Real estate whisper listings may be advantageous for buyers for several reasons. First, there is generally less competition for off-market homes than those listed widely on an MLS, helping buyers purchase a home at or below asking price.

Given the word-of-mouth nature of pocket listings, potential buyers are generally hand-picked by listing agents based on both their qualifications and the type of property they’re looking for. This approach can cut down on the number of showings in the home buying process, which may be important for some buyers due to privacy and time.

Before committing to this strategy, there are some additional benefits and drawbacks to consider.

Pros of Secret Real Estate Listings

A secret real estate listing can offer advantages to sellers and buyers alike.

For sellers, a pocket listing affords considerable privacy — both in terms of keeping the sale status under wraps and reducing foot traffic at a property. By focusing on qualified buyers in the listing agent’s network, the sale process could be expedited without the hassle of negotiations and contingencies.

Sellers may opt for a pocket listing to test out an asking price and gauge interest. If the whisper listing doesn’t secure a full-price offer, sellers can reconsider the price before putting the property on the open market to attract new buyers without any record of a price change. This is helpful since prospective buyers may view a price cut as an opportunity to make an offer under the asking price.

The primary benefit for buyers is reduced competition on a property. Since the listing has only been shared with a select group, it’s less likely that a listing will go into a bidding war or be sold out from underneath them.

Recommended: How to Negotiate House Prices: 7 Tips

Cons of Secret Real Estate Listings

Whisper listings are often pursued in the hope of fetching top dollar from buyers. From a buyer’s perspective, the perk of first dibs on a property may come at the expense of an accurate assessment of its value and the ability to negotiate. Putting aside the allure of exclusive access is important to ensure that the property fits your needs and makes financial sense.

For sellers, a secret real estate listing limits the potential pool of buyers instead of promoting the property on any of the hundreds of multiple listing services and across major real estate sites. Opening a property to the market can increase your chances of a multiple-offer situation and getting bids over the asking price.

In May 2021, nearly 50% of homes sold over the listing price, Redfin noted. Both 2019 and 2020 saw roughly 25% of properties go over listing price during the same month.

Whether the market is hot, cold, or somewhere in between, restricting the number of prospective buyers could reduce how much you sell your home for. And while a pocket listing may reduce the hassle of multiple showings, the approach could extend how long it takes to find a buyer for the price you want.

The Takeaway

A whisper listing, also known as a pocket listing, is shared only with an exclusive group of agents’ inner circles. Secret real estate listings can offer advantages to both sellers and buyers but may have some drawbacks.

Here’s something that isn’t a secret: If you’re house hunting and need financing, getting prequalified is a useful first step to show you’re a serious buyer and can afford the property. Give SoFi home loans a try.

SoFi offers fixed-rate mortgages with as little as 5% down.

Ready to buy a home? Find your rate in minutes.

Photo credit: iStock/archigram


SoFi Home Loans
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. SoFi Home Loans are not available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.

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.
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Source: sofi.com