How to Cover Unexpected Costs with a Personal Loan

By Jennifer Calonia

Owning a home comes with its rewards — it’s an investment, a cozy haven to kick-up your feet after a long day of work, and a welcoming place to bring family and friends together. Although all of this makes homeownership fulfilling, owning a home also opens the door for unexpected (but necessary) expenses.

If you’ve suddenly been hit with a home improvement project that’s pinching your budget, like a roofing issue or heater malfunction, a personal loan might be an option to help cover the cost.

What is a personal loan?

A personal loan is an installment loan that’s typically issued by a bank, credit union or online lender. According to the Federal Reserve, the average interest rate on a two-year personal loan is 10.70% but varies depending on your credit score and other criteria. Some lenders offer repayment terms anywhere from 12 months to five years.

A benefit of using a personal loan for emergency home improvement projects is that the approval process is generally quick so you can address urgent home repairs sooner. Some online lenders can run a credit check, approve your application and send funds your way with a couple of days. The approval process for banks and credit unions, on the other hand, can take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks, if the lender needs additional information.

How to find a personal loan

If you’ve decided that a personal loan makes sense to fund your next home project, make sure you’re aware of these next steps.

1. Assess your budget

The last thing you need is taking out a personal loan only to realize after the fact that you can’t afford to repay it. Calculate how much you realistically need for your home improvement project, giving yourself a reasonable buffer for unforeseen repair expenses (e.g. permit fees, price changes for a specific material, etc.)

Then, tally your monthly income and financial obligations to ensure you still have enough cash on hand to keep the lights on and make monthly installments toward your loan. Using a spreadsheet or budgeting app can help you track these numbers easily.

2. Know your credit score

Generally, you need a good credit score to get approved for a personal loan. Your credit score is one of the key factors that lenders use to determine whether your application is approved, and a higher credit score results in a lower interest rate offer.

Check your credit score with the three credit bureaus to ensure there isn’t an error or suspicious activity that might inadvertently lower your credit score. For a free credit report, go to AnnualCreditReport.com to see where your credit stands before moving forward in the process.

3. Compare rates and terms

When you’ve confirmed that you have a good credit score that can get you competitive interest rates, it’s tempting to accept a loan from the first lender that approves you. But like other major purchases, it’s important to shop around.

Compare interest rates, annual percentage rates (APR), and term durations available, and read the fine print for any conditions or fees that might offset any benefits.

To start, try reaching out to your existing financial institution first to see what they can offer; sometimes credit unions, in particular, offer rate incentives for loyal members. Also, consider using a personal loan aggregator website to compare offers from multiple online lenders at once (just do your due diligence to ensure the site is legitimate).

4. Submit an application

If you’re ready to submit an application, you can either complete a form online or apply in-person, depending on your lender. Although all lenders require different information to process a loan application, some common information to prepare ahead of time include:

  • Personal information
  • Income
  • Employment information
  • Reason for the loan
  • Amount you want to borrow

To minimize any delays on your end, it’s helpful to prepare copies of verification documents, such as a driver’s license, proof of address like a utility statement, information about your home and pay stubs. Your prospective lender will likely reach out to you if they need any other information to make a decision.

Although it’s always best to have emergency savings set aside for a sudden home improvement project, turning to a personal loan is a useful option when you’re pressed for funds and time. As urgent as your project might feel, however, always take the time to do your research to ensure you’re making the right move for your situation.

Jennifer Calonia is a native Los Angeles-based writer for Upstart whose goal is to help readers get excited about improving their financial health and lifestyle. Her work has been featured on Forbes, The Huffington Post, MSN Money, Business Insider, CNN Money, and Yahoo Finance. When she’s not wordsmithing, you can find her outdoors, exploring state and national parks.

Posted on May 15, 2019 at 6:43 pm
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Party Like It’s 2018!

You probably saw this week’s news from the Federal Reserve declaring that they would not raise their Federal Funds rate for the rest of 2019

(just three months after saying they would raise rates at least twice this year).

While this is big news, even bigger news for mortgage rates is that the 10-year Treasury yield just hit its lowest point since January 2018. One thing we’ve learned from our Chief Economist Matthew Gardner is that mortgage rates follow the 10-year treasury (not necessarily the Fed Funds rate).

Last Spring it looked like mortgage rates had bottomed out and they steadily climbed through the Summer and Fall of 2018. It looked certain that they would hit 5% around January.

Instead they started dropping. Now with the 10-year Treasury at a 15-month low, they just dropped a little more and they are back to where they were a year ago.

Great news for buyers! Party like it’s 2018!

 

Posted on March 25, 2019 at 2:44 pm
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2019 Annual Forecast

If you missed our Annual Forecast Review last month, click the link below to get a recap of the event:

 

 

Posted on February 12, 2019 at 8:31 pm
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A History Lesson

One of the most common questions we hear from clients is “Where do you think interest rates are going?”

Virtually all of the experts we follow put rates above 5% going into next year and some see rates approaching 5.5% by the middle of 2019. What’s certain is that there are economic forces at work that are pushing rates higher.

So, how about a little history lesson? How do today’s 30- year mortgage rates compare to this same date in history going all the way back to 1990?

• Today = 4.85%
• 2017 = 3.94%
• 2015 = 3.82%
• 2010 = 4.27%
• 2005 = 5.98%
• 2000 = 7.84%
• 1995 = 7.75%
• 1990 = 10.22%

While today’s rates feel high only because they are higher than 2017, they are quite a bit lower than at many times in history.

Posted on October 21, 2018 at 5:59 pm
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Average Home Prices in Northern Colorado

Yesterday the Coloradoan ran a very good article about the increase of average home prices in Larimer County, which they stated has now reached $405,000.  

We thought this article may make you curious to know what the average prices are in each specific city in Northern Colorado:

  • Fort Collins = $453,051
  • Loveland = $402,132
  • Windsor = $463,769
  • Greeley = $310,785
  • Timnath = $604,481
  • Wellington = $338,999
  • Boulder = $1,105,634

source = IRES

Contact me today to find out what your home would be valued at in today’s market!

Posted on July 13, 2018 at 10:29 pm
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Our Forecast

Last night was our annual Market Forecast event. Thank you to the 400 clients and friends who joined us at the Marriott.

Here are our predictions for where prices are going in 2018:soap-bubble-1959327_1920.jpg

  • Fort Collins 8%
  • Loveland 7%
  • Greeley 9%

Last year’s average price increases looked like this:

  • Fort Collins 7%
  • Loveland 8%
  • Greeley 11%

Low inventory will persist in many parts of the market during 2018. But, like we mentioned last night, there are many parts of the market where the market is in balance or even over-supplied with homes. All markets are local!

Our Cheif Economist, Matthew Gardner, shared several of his insights including his prediction for interest rates one year from now which is 4.4% (about 0.5% higher than today).

For buyers thinking about waiting until the market cools off, there is a tangible cost to that wait. If prices and interest rates go up as we predict, a one-year wait would equal over $200 per month for a $400,000 home.

In case you missed the event, you can read more about it here in the Loveland Reporter-Herald. They did a great recap of our presentation. CLICK HERE

Posted on January 19, 2018 at 4:14 pm
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What’s Up??

First things first, this is your last call to register for our Annual Forecast. If you want clarity on what is happening in the market, this is the event to attend. We will be live at 5:30 Thursday the 18th at the Marriott. RSVP to www.windermereforecast.com

Now, what’s going up? According to our Cheif Economist Matthew Gardner, interest rates. His prediction for 2018 is that rates will rise roughly 0.5% up to 4.4%.

That means a buyer’s purchasing power will go down by 5%. Even if prices didn’t increase at all, a buyer’s monthly payment would go up 5% because of a measly 1/2% increase in interest rate.

By Matthew’s own admission, rates have baffled forecasters for the last few years. Unusual forces have kept them artificially low for a sustained period of time. But even a small rate increase like Matthew predicts will have a big effect on potential buyers.

To hear our predictions for the 2018 market, join our live Market Forecast event on January 18th at the Marriott in Fort Collins. Back by popular demand is Windermere’s Chief Economist Matthew Gardner who will give you valuable and interesting insights into the real estate market. Reserve your spot at www.windermereforecast.com

Posted on January 12, 2018 at 8:36 pm
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Memory Lane

Today we will take a fun trip down memory lane.

Did you know that it was the fall of 1981 when mortgage interest rates hit their all time peak? Yes it was this time 36 years ago when 30-year mortgage rates hit 18.39%

Yikes!

It’s important to note that in those days, not many home buyers were opting for a 30-fixed loan because rates were so high. There were a lot of people looking at adjustable rate products as a way to reduce the monthly payment.

Just for fun, let’s look at what a monthly payment would look like if those same rates from 1981 existed today.

If rates were 18.39% today, a $350,000 home with a 20% down payment would have a monthly principal and interest payment of…

$4,309! Yikes!

Thank goodness rates aren’t that high today. They are actually about 15% lower!

Today’s 30-year rate sits at 3.83% (which by the way is roughly half of the long term average).

A monthly principal and interest payment on a $350,000 home with 20% down is…

$1,309. Three thousand dollars lower than it would be using 1981 ‘s rates.

For a detailed look at what’s happening across Colorado, request our quarterly market report called “The Scoop.”

Posted on September 29, 2017 at 4:14 pm
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Should You Wait or Buy Now?

The housing market is remarkably tight across the U.S., and you may be wondering if you should wait for home prices to slow before making your move. Windermere’s Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, shares why waiting could end up costing you more money in the long run.

Should You Wait out the Housing Market?

The housing market is remarkably tight across the U.S., and you may be wondering if you should wait for home prices to slow before making your move. Windermere's Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, shares why waiting could end up costing you more money in the long run.

Posted by Windermere Real Estate on Friday, August 18, 2017

Posted on August 24, 2017 at 5:54 pm
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No two alike

Anyone who has more than one child is frequently amazed by the difference between the children. How is it that two kids from the same parents are so different from each other?

Same goes in our Northern Colorado market. We see a major difference between certain price ranges and certain locations right here in our little neck of the woods.

Clients are constantly reading about and hearing about the “hot” market. They make assumptions that every price range and every location in Larimer and Weld Counties are on fire. Not true!

Just like two kids from the same parents are different, two price ranges in the same place are very different.

To make this point, let’s look at months of inventory. This statistic simply measures how long it would take to sell the current inventory of homes at the current pace of sales.

Across all price ranges, months of inventory in Larimer County = 2.0. Meaning it would take two months to sell all the homes currently for sale. But this is misleading, because months of inventory…

So, the $1,000,000 seller who hears that the market is “hot” is actually faced with a year’s inventory currently on the market!

This is a very high-level look at the differences in our market. I am happy to give you a detailed look at your exact neighborhood in your exact price range. Let us know if we can help!

Posted on August 18, 2017 at 8:06 pm
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