The popularity of stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s show how many homeowners are jumping on the home improvement bandwagon. Maybe you’re thinking of redoing part of your house as well. Perhaps you want the kitchen of your dreams or an extra bathroom. You know you’ll have to take out a loan to finance the project, but if you’re just in the beginning stages of the planning, you may not know exactly how to go about it. Whether you’re refinancing or taking out a home-equity loan, here’s some information on what your bank needs:
As with any loan, your bank will want to review your financial history before approving you for a home-equity loan. While different banks will have different loan criteria, there are a few things you can expect each institution to require:
-Your address and how long you’ve lived there
-Your employment history and current employer
-Your annual income and assets
-Your total debt and monthly obligations
For home-equity loans, the bank will also need information on your house such as its age and current property value. Save time by bringing the current tax assessment for your property with you. For smaller loans (usually $2000 or less), this may be enough information to indicate the home’s market value to the bank’s satisfaction. However, for larger loans, banks will require professional appraisals. Home appraisals typically cost $200-$300.
Above, I mentioned that banks want to know your total debt and monthly obligations. Specifically, they want to know your debt-to-income ratio. If your debt is greater than 30%-40% of your monthly income, the bank may be unwilling to offer a loan out of fear that you will not be able to make payments.
To further protect their assets, the bank will require a copy of your credit history to make sure you’re not a bad risk. A few months before you decide to take out a home-equity loan, it’s a good idea to get a copy of your credit report and check it for errors. Contact the credit bureau and correct any errors ahead of time. This will save time later and help you get the right loan for your home improvement needs.