MortgageCast #10 | Benefits of a Renovation Loan

The Renovation Mortgage Process, Renovation Loan Consultant, What Can The Borrower Expect & More!

In this episode of MortgageCast, Erin the Expert discusses the many benefits of using a Renovation Loan to purchase a home in need of repair or to upgrade one you already own.

She starts off talking about renovation loans from the perspective of a purchase transaction and then throws in some info towards the end of the conversation about financing renovations on a property that you already own.

In both types of transactions you are able to borrow against the property’s future value after the improvements to the property are made, which creates immediate equity for the purposes of the loan application.

Primary residences, second homes and investment properties can all be financed with a renovation loan – but these are all meant for homes you are going to hang on to for a while and not for fix and flip projects.

And there's a big difference between renovation and construction loans. With a renovation loan, you are repairing or upgrading an existing home while a construction loan is meant for going ground up – taking an empty lot and building a new home on it.

There's also a common misconception that there is a loan to purchase the home and another for the renovations. A renovation mortgage is ONE loan finances both the purchase of the house, and the costs to renovate it.

The Renovation Mortgage Process

The first step, just like any normal purchase, the buyer and seller agree on the sales price and enter into a sales contract.

What differs is that the buyer obtains an estimate from a contractor for the work that needs to be done.  It is important to note that the borrower is not permitted to do the work themselves, and MUST hire a licensed and insured contractor.

In processing the loan application, we add the sales price and the cost of the renovations from the estimate to come up with a total acquisition cost of the home. The down payment is based on this figure. For example, let’s say the sales price is $200,000 and the renovation costs are $50,000. The down payment will be based on $250,000. So for a 10% down transaction, the down payment is $25,000.

The Loan Consultant

If the renovation costs exceed $35,000, a renovation consultant is required.  The consultant is an independent third party that works for and on behalf of the buyer. Essentially, they are a project manager and facilitates the process between the borrower, contractor and lender. The consultant will come out to the house to look for any possible defects in the property that aren’t addressed by the estimate and will make sure that what IS listed in the estimate will meet minimum property standards for loan approval.

What else can the borrower expect?

Basically, business as usual… not only does the lender need to approve the renovation project, but we do need to review the borrower’s income, assets and credit profile. Once both the credit and project approvals are issued, the borrower will be cleared for closing. It is important to note that given all the work involved with renovation mortgages, the turnaround time from start to finish is a bit longer.

What happens at and after closing?

The loan funds are disbursed at closing – the seller gets their contracted purchase price, and the remainder of the funds are placed into an escrow account that is managed by the lender. Payments called draws are made to the contractor as work is completed. The consultant or an appraiser will come out to the property to make sure the work has actually been done, then a draw check will be issued.

What if the contractor requires money to get started on the project?

The lender can disperse up to 50% of the cost of the materials  (NOT including labor) to get the project started. All other draws will be issued as work is completed.

How do renovation loans work if you already own your home?

There are a number of different ways we can look to tackle this. The easiest way is to take out some cash from the home’s equity to cover the costs of the renovation project. We would do a standard “cash out” refinance transaction and pay off your existing mortgage then hand you a check for the remaining proceeds at closing.

What if there is no equity in the house? Can someone still finance a renovation?

Yes, and it works similarly to the purchase. The homeowner will get an estimate from the contractor – we’ll send a consultant out if needed and the appraiser will inspect your home. The as-is value will be determined, and then the renovation costs will be taken into account to come up with the “end” value. We’ll lend off of that figure when determining the maximum available loan amount and cash that can be disbursed for renovations.

What is required of the contractor?

The estimate the contractor provides needs to be very detailed. It has to separate out the costs of the materials from the labor so we can determine how much money to disburse at closing. Aside from filling out a bunch of paperwork, the contractor will need to provide copies of their license and insurance policies.

Renovation Mortgage Programs

Additional Resources

Are you a first time home buyer?

Consider downloading our FREE homebuying guide specifically for those new to the process. It's packed with useful information, checklists and tip sheets to get you off on the right foot.

Are you ready to take the next step?

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