FHA 203(k) mortgages. These FHA-insured loans allow you to simultaneously refinance the first mortgage and combine it with the improvement costs into a new mortgage. They also base the loan on the value of a home after improvements, rather than before. Because your house is worth more, your equity and the amount you can borrow are both greater. And you can hire a contractor or do the work yourself. The downside is that loan limits vary by county and tend to be relatively low. The usual term is 30 years. Energy-efficient mortgages (EEMs). Suppose your home's R-value is the envy of your block. An EEM from Fannie Mae or elsewhere could boost your debt-to-income ratio by up to 2 percent. Utility bills are lower in energy-efficient homes, so the homeowner can afford a bigger loan. EEMs have been used for new construction; lenders are now pushing them for existing homes. An EEM requires a determination that your house meets Fannie Mae's stringent energy-efficiency standards. B and C loans. What if you have less than A credit or don't fit the usual employment or income mold? B and C loans are a fallback. While many banks offer them, so do credit unions, brokerage houses, and finance companies. You'll also find lenders that push B and C loans for debt consolidation with enticing introductory rates. Beware, though: Total interest and fees tend to be high because of the lenders' added risk. And since B and C loans lack consistent requirements and terms, comparing them is difficult. Getting personal. Houses aren't the only loan collateral. Stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit, a savings account, and even a pension or retirement account can also help you get a viable personal loan from many brokerages and banks. Although the interest isn't tax-deductible, the rate can be low enough to make these loans enticing. You also save the usual title, appraisal, and other closing costs of a mortgage.
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