A home equity loan enables a homeowner to borrow a lump sum of money by taking advantage of their home’s equity. Many borrowers put the money toward home improvement projects. Those projects, in turn, can boost the amount of equity in the home.
Find out how a renovation can affect the value of your home equity, and whether borrowing money is a good idea when you’re taking on a renovation project.
- A renovation can improve the value of your home or be a drag on the equity, depending on the type of project and how much it costs.
- Projects such as replacement of a garage door or installation of new wood flooring might deliver better monetary results than, say, putting in a swimming pool.
- Home equity loans, home equity lines of credit, and cash-out refinance loans are common financing options for a home renovation.
- How much you should borrow for a home renovation depends on several factors, such as your current financial situation and the return on investment (ROI) the project will provide.
When Renovations Increase Your Home Equity
Various home improvement projects can add equity to your home by improving its value, but some are better at accomplishing that than others. For instance, upgrading an outdated kitchen might make more sense (and appeal more to buyers) than adding an in-ground pool.
Before diving into a home improvement project, check with a local real estate agent or contractor to find out which kinds of projects are sought by local buyers and would most benefit your home equity. If you decide to proceed with a project, consider whether you can do it yourself or need to hire a contractor. If you head down the DIY path, you might be able to cut costs and increase your home’s equity even more.
Renovation Projects With the Best ROI
A 2021 report from Remodeling magazine pinpoints the 10 projects with the greatest payoffs, based on averages from 150 U.S. markets:
|Project||Average cost||Average resale value||Average cost recovered|
|Garage door replacement||$3,907||$3,663||93.8%|
|Manufactured stone veneer||$10,386||$9,571||92.1%|
|Minor kitchen remodel (midrange)||$26,214||$18,927||72.2%|
|Siding replacement (fiber-cement)||$19,626||$13,618||69.4%|
|Window replacement (vinyl)||$19,385||$13,297||68.6%|
|Siding replacement (vinyl)||$16,576||$11,315||68.3%|
|Window replacement (wood)||$23,219||$15,644||67.4%|
|Deck addition (wood)||$16,766||$11,038||65.8%|
|Entry door replacement (steel)||$2,082||$1,353||65%|
|Deck addition (composite)||$22,426||$14,169||63.2%|
The priciest project in the report was the addition of an upscale master suite, with an average cost of $320,976, an average resale value of $152,996, and an average cost recovery of 47.7%. Meanwhile, the least expensive project was the addition of a steel entry door, with an average cost of $2,082, an average resale value of $1,353, and an average cost recovery of 65%.
A 2022 study from the National Association of Realtors and National Association of the Remodeling Industry offers a different take on the home improvement projects that deliver the most bang for the buck. The study looks at interior and exterior remodeling projects. Here, we list the top five in each category.
|Interior project||Recovery cost percentage|
|Hardwood floor refinishing||147%|
|New wood flooring||118%|
|Basement conversion to living area||86%|
One interior project that seems to be gaining in popularity is the addition of a home office. In the study’s survey of homeowners, the addition of a home office earned a perfect “Joy Score” of 10, reflecting homeowners’ happiness with the project. A little over half of the homeowners who had put in a home office said the project improved functionality and livability.
|Exterior project||Recovery cost percentage|
The exterior project that brought the most joy to homeowners who were surveyed for the study was painting the siding. This project earned a “Joy Score” of 9.8, putting it in the No. 1 position among exterior projects that most pleased homeowners. This finding suggests that painting the exterior siding of your home might be a smart investment, as it may enjoy widespread appeal among potential homebuyers.
Not All Projects Add Equity to Your Home
In some cases, you may want to skip a home improvement project that might not align with future buyer preferences and, therefore, could be a drag on your home’s equity. Here are three projects you may want to put on the to-don’t list.
A new backyard pool might not make the kind of splash you hope it will. Some potential buyers might not want to deal with the hassle of pool maintenance. Others, particularly families with small kids, might view a pool as a safety hazard. And if you live in, say, a chilly climate like Minnesota, a pool may be far less of a selling point than it might be in sunnier places such as California and Florida.
Marble tile might look nice in the entryway or bathrooms, but prospective buyers might frown on it. Why? Because they simply don’t want to pay extra for what they may perceive to be an unwanted and unnecessary amenity. In many instances, high-end upgrades fail to deliver the kind of boost in equity that you might think they would.
A typical buyer wants to park cars in the garage or use the space for storage. That’s why many may be turned off with a home that has a garage that’s been turned into living space. You may be better off maintaining the original purpose of a garage.
How To Finance a Renovation
Several financing options are available for home renovations designed to boost your home’s value.
Home Equity Loan
A home equity loan allows you to tap into the home’s equity to borrow a lump sum of money for a home renovation or another big expense. A borrower normally repays the loan over a certain period of time through equal monthly payments. Many lenders will let you borrow up to 80% of your home’s equity.
The interest rate for a home equity usually is fixed. However, the rate is often higher than it may be for a home equity line of credit (HELOC).
Your home will serve as collateral for a home equity loan. If you don’t keep up with the loan payments, the lender might foreclose on your home.
Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)
A HELOC is a revolving line of credit, much like a credit card. You can borrow from the line of credit as needed, as long as you don’t exceed the credit limit. As opposed to a home equity loan, the interest rate for a HELOC typically fluctuates. In other words, it can go up or down, potentially creating unpredictability in terms of your monthly payments.
As with a home equity loan, your home serves as collateral when you apply for a home equity line of credit (HELOC). So if you fall behind on HELOC payments, you could lose your home.
One big difference between a HELOC and a home equity loan is how the interest is charged. With a HELOC, you pay interest only on the amount you actually use, and not on the amount that you’re able to use (the credit limit). When you take out a home equity loan, you pay interest on the entire loan amount. Furthermore, the annual percentage rate (APR) for a HELOC is based only on the interest you’ll pay. By contrast, the APR for a home equity loan includes fees and other closing costs.
Cash-Out Refinance Loan
A cash-out refinance loan is also backed by your home. This type of loan pays off your existing mortgage and sets up an entirely new mortgage. Once the mortgage and closing costs are covered, you will have access to whatever is left in the form of a lump-sum amount of cash. Fixed-rate and adjustable-rate refinance loans are available with this type of loan.
Because you’re establishing a new mortgage, the time it takes to wrap up a refinance loan might be longer than it is for a home equity loan or HELOC.
Home Improvement Loan
A home improvement loan is a personal loan designed solely for home renovations and upgrades. To qualify for a home improvement loan, you may need to show a lender that you’ve hired a contractor and supply a project overview as well as cost estimates.
A personal loan doesn’t involve collateral. In other words, it’s an unsecured loan. Because it’s unsecured, a home improvement loan usually features a higher interest rate and lower borrowing limit than other loans do. Both fixed and variable interest rates are available.
The amount you can borrow depends partly on the nature of your project as well as the value you have in your home. For instance, you might be able to get a bigger loan for an interior project than you can for an exterior project.
Unless you’re able to score a 0% introductory rate or other special financing, a credit card usually charges higher interest rates than other lending options available for home improvements. Additionally, a credit card’s interest rate may vary over time, while the interest rate for a home equity loan typically is fixed.
How Much Should I Borrow for a Renovation Project?
Depending on the lending option you choose, the amount of equity you’ve got in your home may restrict the amount of money you can borrow for a renovation project. The amount of existing debt you have, along with your credit history and credit score, also will play roles.
But the key question here might be this: How much debt do you feel comfortable assuming to tackle a renovation project—and to hopefully boost your home equity?
Will the Investment Pay Off?
One of the things you’ll need to weigh is how well your investment will pay off. In other words, it might be wiser to take on debt to pay for a new garage door or new wood flooring (which studies show offer a high return on investment) than to use a loan or credit card to cover the cost of a new pool or garage conversion (both of which aren’t as likely to lift up your home equity).
Can You Afford the Project?
You’ll also want to look at the cost of the project compared with how much you can afford to pay out of pocket and what you will need to borrow. As such, the addition of a bedroom might be out of reach financially compared with a lower-cost but still substantial project like the replacement of your roof.
What Is Your Situation?
Give some thought to what your other needs are. Is one of your kids going to college? Are you struggling to pay off a big medical bill? Those expenses may take priority over a home renovation project.
On top of that, figure out how long you plan to stay in your home. That could tip the balance between whether to sink money into a home improvement project and to put off the project or even erase it from your to-do list.
The Bottom Line
In the end, the bang for the buck that a renovation project delivers might not be the only factor in figuring out how much money to borrow, but it is certainly key when it comes to the cost versus the potential increase in equity.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How much of my home equity can I take out for a remodel loan?
For a home equity loan or HELOC, many lenders won’t let you borrow more than 80% of the equity in your home. In some cases, though, a lender might agree to let you borrow 100% of the equity.
What information do I need to get a home improvement loan?
Aside from the standard information you must provide to get a home improvement loan, such as your income, a lender may want proof that you’ve hired a contractor and may want to see a project overview and cost estimates.
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Remodeling. “2021 Cost v. Value Report.”
National Association of Realtors. “2022 Remodeling Impact Report.”
National Association of Realtors. “2022 Remodeling Impact Report,” Page 36.
National Association of Realtors. “2022 Remodeling Impact Report,” Page 54.
Federal Trade Commission. “Home Equity Loans and Home Equity Lines of Credit.”
Mountain America Credit Union. “ What Is the Difference Between HELOC and Home Equity Loan?”
RBFCU. “Home Improvement Loans.”
Discover. “What Is a Cash Out Refinance and When To Use It?”
Smart Financial Credit Union. “Home Equity vs. Home Improvement Loans.”