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Home Loan

Doing Up The House

If you own your home, you have plenty more home loan options than if you are renting (in the latter case, consider credit cards and other sources of cash). To improve your home with a secured loan, consider all the usual mortgage lenders; and expect a better rate than an unsecured product.

The term "home loan" is hopelessly ambiguous, so let's be clear. It can mean "mortgage": a loan you take out to cover the cost of buying a house. It can mean a loan which is secured against your home (homeowner loan, home equity loan). And in this context, a home loan is a loan you take out to cover either maintenance or decoration of your home. And more confusingly, the best rates are reserved for homeowners borrowing against the value of their home!

If you do want a loan for home improvements, the big question is: do you own your home (either outright or with a mortgage)? If so, you have many more options than if you do not.

If you are just renting, you do not have the benefit of equity in your property, and as such an ordinary loan is probably your only option, unless you're spending less than £2,500 in which case perhaps a credit card might be the answer. Any credit cards are offering incredible incentives, such as 6 months interest free right now, so do investigate them for smaller amounts.

But for larger purchases- a new kitchen or fixing the roof- a home loan is your best bet. Rates vary from 6% up to 18% depending on whether you go to your bank (usually a bad idea) or other lenders. Look out for incentives such as a payment holiday (so you can start spending before you start paying- ideal if you're getting builders in).

But if you have equity in your home, then you have a far wider selection of home loan options. Most mortgage companies will let you extend your mortgage, especially if the value of your house has risen. Most will lend you up to 95% of the value of your home if you ask nicely enough! The Halifax and HSBC, among some others, will also give you a separate home loan at an exceptional rate compared to unsecured loans, so if you're a homeowner you have plenty more money at your disposal and at a better rate. Some lenders, like the Abbey National, will only give you their best rates if you're already a mortgage customer; others will open their doors to anyone.