If your family home lacks space but you don’t want to move, you’ll be joining thousands of other Canadians who have chosen to renovate their properties. Whether you’re adding an extension, overhauling your kitchen, or knocking down walls to create better flow, you can likely count on one thing: you’re about to embark on an expensive project. Don’t fret if your dreams are bigger than your budget—there are a lot of ways to finance home renovations. While it may be tempting to borrow money, just remember you’ll have to pay that loan back, so be sure to make a plan that factors in the potential of further interest rate increases. Here’s how you can pay for upgrades to your property.
1. Take out a personal loan or borrow from family and friends
Generally, a personal loan carries a lower interest rate than a credit card. You can borrow a lump sum, repaying it over a set period. Typically, you’d pay monthly installments over one to five years, but it all depends on your lender and the terms you agree to. After you’ve repaid the loan, you’ll have to reapply if you want to borrow more money.
Borrowing from family and friends might seem easy, but it can cause stress if you don’t have a detailed and firm repayment plan. It can make it easier to get the money right away with few strings attached, but be aware of the strain it could end up putting on your relationship if both parties have differing opinions on what the repayment plan should look like. Oftentimes, people will put together a sort of “contract” that lays out the repayment terms and takes a lot of the emotion out of borrowing from family.
2. Refinance your mortgage
With a better interest rate than a credit card or personal loan, some homeowners seek to finance their renovations by refinancing the terms of their existing mortgage. This way, you can borrow more money and pay lower monthly installments over a longer term. Refinancing your mortgage means adding more money to the total you have already borrowed from your bank or lender. It has a lower interest rate because your mortgage is secured by the equity in your home.
While it’s fairly easy to qualify for mortgage refinancing, it’s best to do it when your mortgage is up for renewal. Otherwise, you may be charged fees.
3. Open a line of credit
For a long-term renovation project, you can open a personal line of credit through banks or credit unions, which lets you access money as you need it. You only pay interest on the funds you withdraw, and interest rates are lower than on a credit card. You may borrow funds multiple times up to the line of credit’s limit, as long as you keep making regular payments. If you have good credit, you can qualify for a line of credit with your lender.
4. Get a home equity loan
A home equity line of credit (HELOC) offers a flexible, low-interest loan option. Here’s how it works: You can borrow a sum that totals up to 80% of the assessed value of your home when it’s added to what you have left on your mortgage principal. This means if you still owe $250,000 on your $500,000 home, you can qualify for a HELOC of up to $150,000. You’re tapping into your home equity to access funds.
You can use these funds for anything—including renovations—and, as you pay off the HELOC, that credit is replenished. Just be careful not to keep withdrawing money as if it’s a bank account. You can also ask your lender to limit the available funds—just because you can access $150,000, doesn’t mean you should if your renovation project will cost less than the amount available. To get the most competitive interest rate, you may want to work with a mortgage broker. Since HELOCs are tied to your home’s equity, you’ll pay set-up costs and legal fees.
Municipal, provincial and federal governments also offer a range of home renovation tax credits, grants and incentives, allowing you to deduct part of your remodeling expenses from your taxes. There are also rebates available for energy-saving renovations.
Talk to your lender to figure out which financing option is right for you. They can explain how much you can borrow and go over the process to pre-approve your renovation financing. Your REALTOR® may also have recommendations and contacts who can provide insight into your situation. Remember, while remodeling can cost a lot of money, it can boost your property value while also allowing you to better enjoy your home.
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