What Is a Rehab Loan and How Does It Work? (2023)

You have your eye on a fixer-upper, only you don’t want to go through the hassle of getting financing for the remodeling and repairs and separately obtaining a mortgage loan. Fortunately, there are rehab loans to help finance the renovation and purchase of a home in a single loan.

What is a rehab loan? It’s a type of loan that can be used to pay for a mortgage and any renovations in one loan. One of the most popular rehab loans is the FHA 203(k) loan, available in two options. Keep reading to learn more about how rehab loans work.

Home rehab loans: What are they?

A rehab loan is a form of financing that allows a borrower to fund both the renovation and purchase of a home for sale using a single loan. A rehab loan can also be used to refinance and make improvements to your current home.

The FHA 203(k) loan is backed by the government and is one of the most commonly used rehab loans available.

Instead of applying for multiple loans, homebuyers can use a rehab loan to buy or refinance their primary residence and refurbish it with only one loan.

“Rehab loans take the financial guesswork out of upgrading a home. They allow the buyer to incorporate the cost of upgrades into the purchase or refinance of the house,” said Lyle Solomon, the principal attorney at Oak View Law Group in Rocklin, California.

The FHA 203(k) makes upgrading, financing or refinancing property easier for home buyers and homeowners.

(Video) FHA 203k Rehab Loan Requirements: Everything You Need To Know Up-Front

“Often, renovation loans or some other means of financing desired repairs or improvements can save a borrower thousands of dollars. There is only one closing with one set of closing costs, and equity is created through the transaction,” said Dennis DeGrave, the branch manager for Inlanta Mortgage in Pewaukee, Wisconsin.

What can you use a rehab loan for?

An FHA 203(k) loan can be used for many purposes, including purchasing a residence that requires significant repairs and improvements, buying an outmoded residence that you want to upgrade or fixing up your current home.

There are two different types of FHA 203(k) rehab loans, each with its own allowable uses:

The standard 203(k)

The standard 203(k) is ideal for bigger home improvement projects that will cost at least $5,000. The standard option will cover structural changes; foundation damage; HVAC, plumbing and electrical upgrades; roofing work; accessibility upgrades; storm shelters; sewage and septic work; landscaping; converting single-family homes to multi-unit properties; and site relocation. Your projects will need to be reviewed by a HUD-approved consultant, and your property will require an inspection following all renovations.

The limited 203(k)

The limited version caps home repairs at $35,000 or less. Covered projects include minor remodeling; replacing appliances; painting; repairs or replacements to plumbing, electrical or HVAC systems; roof, downspout and gutter work; lead paint removal; basement finishing/waterproofing; and more. This limited option might be best after inspection and if repair costs are less than $15,000.

With either option, you can choose between fixed and variable interest rates. You may also be able to select the repayment plan’s terms and duration. “Be aware that, with the limited option, you must stay in the house during the renovation or return within 60 days of completing the project,” said Solomon.

Qualifying for a 203(k) rehab loan

To be eligible for an FHA 203(k) loan, you must meet certain credit requirements, which vary from lender to lender.


“You should have a credit score of at least 580. Some lenders prefer a 620 to 640 credit score," Solomon said. “Additionally, you must also put down at least 3.5% based on the purchase price plus repair costs."

If you have lower than a 580 credit score, you may need to put down at least 10%.

You also need to demonstrate sufficient income to repay the loan. That means your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) should be within acceptable limits: Your front-end DTI should not surpass 31%, and your back-end DTI should not exceed 43%.

What’s more, the property being financed must be your primary residence. Plus, the lender has to be FHA-approved and the repair/rehab work must be performed by a contractor, not you.

How to apply for a rehab loan

The FHA doesn’t offer rehab loans itself. You need to shop around for an FHA-approved lender that offers a 203(k) loan.

“A trustworthy bank or local mortgage lender may be able to provide you with this rehab loan,” Solomon said. However, not all lenders offer FHA 203(k) loans.

According to Solomon, here are the likely steps for getting and using a rehab loan:


  • Apply for a rehab loan with a participating lender.
  • Get approved for the loan.
  • Request bids from experienced contractors.
  • Select your contractor.
  • Close on the loan.
  • Have the repairs and renovations completed.
  • Have the rehabbed home inspected, if required.

203(k) rehab loans vs. other types of rehab loans

An FHA 203(k) loan has its pros and cons. On the plus side, you can fund a home purchase or refinance and repairs/improvements in one simple loan, with only one closing involved. You can choose from a fixed rate or variable rate. This loan generally also has lower requirements for the down payment and minimum credit score compared to other types of rehab financing, and the interest rates are competitive.

On the downside, you’ll be required to pay an upfront mortgage insurance premium as well as a monthly mortgage insurance premium with this loan. Depending on your project and whether you choose a standard or limited option, a 203(k) may obligate you to work with a HUD-approved consultant. You are also not allowed to use a 203(K) loan for investment properties.

Below, compare the 203(k) loan to alternative forms of refinancing.

Fannie Mae Homestyle renovation loan

This loan offers either a fixed or adjustable rate, but restrictions apply, including the inability to cover a foundation reconstruction or complete teardown. “This loan may sometimes be a better alternative due to lower mortgage insurance costs, reduced overall loan costs and potentially higher loan limits,” DeGrave said.

Freddie Mac CHOICERenovation loan

This loan allows a down payment of as little as 3.5% and lower credit scores, and can be used for second homes, investment properties and multi-family residences, although certain restrictions apply.

USDA Rural Development home repair loan

For a USDA Rural Development loan, you must live in an approved rural area and meet median income requirements in that area. Funds can help pay for many eligible upgrades and repairs.

Private or hard money rehab loan

This option can come in handy if you can’t find rehab financing elsewhere. Hard money lenders look more closely at collateral than income and credit score, as well as the home’s after-repair value. But interest rates will likely be higher and repayment terms stricter.

(Video) What is a FHA Rehab Loan? CAN I DO THE WORK MYSELF?

Home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC)

Suppose you are seeking to repair or remodel an existing home. In that case, you can tap into your home’s equity by either taking out a home equity loan or HELOC, each of which has its pros and cons. “If property values in your neighborhood fall, tapping your home’s equity may backfire against you,” said Solomon.

Cash-out refinance loan

Another choice when you want to renovate or repair an existing home is to refinance your mortgage and take cash out at closing, which may be less expensive than other financing options because of current low interest rates. This option may take longer to close than a home equity loan or HELOC.


An FHA 203(k) loan provides a convenient means to both fix up and buy a home for as little as 3.5% down and usually at a competitive interest rate.

“If you are looking for a house that needs some work, a rehab loan is the ideal lending solution for your needs, regardless of how big or little the job is,” said Solomon.

But don’t feel obligated to commit to an FHA 203(k) loan. Explore other rehab financing choices, or learn more about the factors to consider when applying for a home improvement loan.

“Each loan program has its pros and cons. A thorough understanding of your short-and long-term goals, the property and your qualifications will help determine which financing option is best,” DeGrave said.

Disclaimer: The above is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.

(Video) General Overview of Renovation Loans (FHA 203k / Home Style / Rehab Loans)


Can I borrow extra on my mortgage for renovations? ›

Can you borrow extra money on your mortgage for renovations? Yes, absolutely – borrowing extra on your mortgage is a pretty common way to fund major home improvements, such as renovating part of your house, adding a loft conversion or putting in a new kitchen.

How do you fund a renovation project? ›

You can either fund your renovations: With cash, by remortgaging to increase your mortgage and release funds, by taking out a secured homeowner loan for improvements or credit card. Using your mortgage for home improvements will usually offer the cheapest rates.

Can I borrow more than the purchase price of a house? ›

Any mortgage offer will be based on the purchase price of the property – even if this is lower than the actual value.

Can I get a mortgage on a derelict property? ›

Derelict and uninhabitable property

A derelict property deemed unfit for human habitation will probably not qualify for a mortgage. After the necessary building work has been completed, however, it should qualify. If the property is not derelict but has no kitchen and bathroom, then it is probably unmortgageable.

What is the cheapest way to borrow money for home improvements? ›

The cheapest way to borrow money for home improvements is to ask for a loan from a friend or family member. If you borrow money from someone you trust, there is a good chance that their terms will be better than if you get a conventional loan or use a credit card.

How much can you borrow against your house? ›

How much equity can I take out of my home? Although the amount of equity you can take out of your home varies from lender to lender, most allow you to borrow 80 percent to 85 percent of your home's appraised value.

How much can I borrow for house renovations? ›

Many banks offer up to £500,000 at around 3.5% to 5.0% interest, but there is no significant discount for smaller sums repaid over short periods. If you have sufficient equity in your current home to fund the renovation, including the purchase, you could use a bridging loan (the other option is to re-mortgage):

What should I start first in renovation? ›

The kitchen should always be one of the first projects to tackle because homeowners want to make a good first impression, and it is one of the rooms where guests spend the most time. “This renovation includes new cabinets, flooring, appliances, countertops and often, the layout, to open up more space,” Muller says.

How much do you have to put down on a 203k loan? ›

Down payment: The minimum down payment for a 203(k) loan is 3.5% if your credit score is 580 or higher. You'll have to put down 10% if your credit score is between 500 and 579. Down payment assistance may be available through state home buyer programs, and monetary gifts from friends and family are permitted as well.

What is the maximum amount for a 203k loan? ›

How much can I borrow with a 203(k) loan?
Loan typeStandard 203(k) loan
Minimum improvement cost$5,000
Maximum improvement costLesser of Purchase price plus rehab costs, or 110% of the after-repair home value
27 Jun 2022

Will bank give loan for more than appraised value? ›

The short answer is yes. Many lenders take market conditions into account when making lending decisions, and in a strong seller's market, they may approve loans for buyers whose offers surpass appraised values, but depending on the loan to value your mortgage terms may need to be adjusted.

Can you loot an abandoned house? ›

Taking stuff from abandoned houses without permission is illegal. Even though the house may be abandoned, it still belongs to somebody, including any contents inside. So taking anything would be considered theft. Also, damaging the property by any means is also illegal.

What is an uninsurable home? ›

Uninsurable property is a home that is not eligible for insurance through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) because it is in need of extensive repairs.

What makes a house Unmortgageable? ›

But as a rule of thumb, the following situations will likely make a property unmortgageable. Properties without a kitchen or bathroom. Properties with any kind of structural defect, damp, dry or wet rot. Properties close to mining works, areas of landfill, areas of recent flooding or subsidence.

What credit score is needed for a home improvement loan? ›

The credit score needed for a home improvement loan depends on the loan type. With an FHA 203(k) rehab loan, you likely need a 620 credit score or higher. Cash-out refinancing typically requires at least 620. If you use a HELOC or home equity loan for home improvements, you'll need a FICO score of 660-700 or higher.

What is the monthly payment on a $100 000 home equity loan? ›

Loan payment example: on a $100,000 loan for 180 months at 7.59% interest rate, monthly payments would be $932.13.

Is the government giving grants for home improvements? ›

What help is available? Grants of up to £5,000 are available to meet the cost of major repairs and essential improvements to your home.

Can you borrow against your life? ›

If you have a permanent life insurance policy, then yes, you can take cash out before your death. In addition to the policy loans described above, you can take out cash value in the form of a withdrawal, either in a lump sum or in payments. As with a policy loan, your death benefit will generally be reduced.

How can I get equity out of my home without refinancing? ›

Home equity loans and HELOCs are two of the most common ways homeowners tap into their equity without refinancing. Both allow you to borrow against your home equity, just in slightly different ways. With a home equity loan, you get a lump-sum payment and then repay the loan monthly over time.

What is the monthly payment on a $50000 Heloc? ›

For example, on a $50,000 HELOC with a 5% interest rate, the payment during the draw period is $208. Whereas, during the repayment period the monthly payment can jump to $330 if it is over 20 years.

What adds the most value to a home 2022? ›

Below are ten home improvement projects with the highest return on investment in 2022.
  • Landscaping. Curb appeal says a lot about your home. ...
  • Updated Kitchen Appliances. ...
  • New Front Door. ...
  • Windows. ...
  • Flooring. ...
  • Bathroom Remodel. ...
  • A Fresh Coat of Paint. ...
  • Garage Door Replacements.
10 Feb 2022

What should you not do when renovating? ›

Here are some of the most common home renovations mistakes to avoid:
  1. Setting an unrealistic budget. ...
  2. Not complementing the original architectural style. ...
  3. Sacrificing function for form. ...
  4. Being too trendy. ...
  5. Installing new appliances last. ...
  6. Buying furniture and home décor too early. ...
  7. Not ordering extra flooring. ...
  8. Focusing on appearance.
2 Nov 2020

What is the most expensive thing when renovating a house? ›

Ideally, you should not spend more than 5% of your home's value to renovate it. The most expensive parts of a home renovation are remodelling the kitchen, remodelling the bathroom, replacing the roof, building outdoor areas and adding central heating or an air condition system.

Which bank is best for renovation loan? ›

  • Best Home Improvement Loans 2022.
  • SoFi: Best Overall Home Improvement Loan.
  • LightStream: Best for Low Interest Rates.
  • Marcus: Best for Terms of Up to 72 Months.
  • LendingPoint: Best For Fast Funding & Below-Average Credit.
  • Upgrade: Best For Fair Credit.
  • Universal Credit: Best For Comparing Multiple Offers.

What is the best way to get money for a home renovation? ›

Page 1
  1. Save. The safest financial option to pay for your home renovation is to save a chunk of money for your project. ...
  2. Home remodel or home repair loan. ...
  3. Home equity line of credit (HELOC) ...
  4. Home equity loan. ...
  5. Cash-out refinance. ...
  6. Credit cards. ...
  7. Government loans.
24 May 2022

Can you get a bank loan for home improvements? ›

Yes, our home improvement loans are unsecured, meaning you won't be borrowing against your property. Home improvements can be significant investments, so it's important you choose the best borrowing option for you. Other borrowing options include: Remortgage.

Should I remodel my bathroom or kitchen first? ›

“Kitchens and baths that are properly renovated and designed are good for living short-term and for long-term goals,” she said. While updating both rooms can offer a return on investment, start with the kitchen. If you have the time and budget, make the bathroom your next project.

Do you rehab house interior or exterior first? ›

1. Do all of the foundational and exterior work first. It's natural to want to move on to the next phase of your project, but ensure the house is sound before you begin interior work. That means replacing windows and putting on a new roof if needed.

Is it cheaper to remodel or build new? ›

As a rule of thumb, renovations are often less expensive than building new.

Can you buy furniture with a 203k loan? ›

Furniture | Accessories | TV

But you can't, sorry. Same goes for those window blinds, not allowed either. Kitchen appliances – stove, range, refrigerator, built-in microwave oven – those can be included in the loan. In some cases, like that of a stove/range, it may even be required to be included.

Which one of the following is not eligible for a 203 k loan? ›

Which one of the following improvements is NOT eligible under the Limited 203(k) program? Major rehabilitation, major remodeling, structural repairs, landscaping, or repairs expected to take longer than 6 months are not eligible for the Limited 203(k).

Can you flip a house with a 203k loan? ›

FHA 203(k) Loan Eligibility Requirements

Occupancy: One major requirement for FHA 203(k) loans is that the borrower must live in their new home as their primary residence after purchase. This loan type does not support property owners who want to flip houses.

How long does it take to close on a 203k mortgage? ›

How long does it take for a 203k loan to close? It will likely take 60 days or more to close a 203k loan, whereas a typical FHA loan might take 30-45 days. There is more paperwork involved with a 203k, plus a lot of back and forth with your contractor to get the final bids.

Does 203k loan cover appliances? ›

Carpet & Appliances.

both covered by the 203k. Buying and installing new appliances including free standing ranges, washer/dryer and refrigerators are all covered by the 203k.

What are the two types of 203k loans? ›

FHA 203(k) Guidelines

There are two types of FHA 203(k) loans. The first is a standard 203(k) which is used for properties that need major remodeling or structural repairs. The second is the Limited 203(k) which is commonly used for new roofing, new appliances, or cosmetic repairs such as painting.

What should you not say to an appraiser? ›

Just keep your communication to the appraiser about the facts of the home and neighborhood, how you priced the house, and any other relevant information you think the appraiser should know. And remember, don't discuss value. Don't pressure the appraiser to 'hit the value' and you'll be fine.

What negatively affects home appraisal? ›

The home's location has the biggest impact on the valuation. The value will be negatively impacted if the home is in an undesirable neighborhood or situated next to a junkyard, power lines, or a busy street.

What do loan appraisers look for? ›

After conducting the property's physical appraisal, they will then analyze comparable homes in your neighborhood and assess the size and sale price of homes nearby. If you are applying for a mortgage, they will then factor in your credit history, income, assets, and other financial details to determine a loan amount.

What happens when a house sits empty? ›

Houses are designed for occupancy, and some of the many problems of vacant houses include lack of moving air, causing all manner of smells (most of us know what “vacant house” smells like), growth of bacteria and mold, and HVAC problems.

How do I claim abandoned property? ›

At common law, a person who finds abandoned property may claim it. To do so, the finder must take definite steps to show their claim. For example, a finder might claim an abandoned piece of furniture by taking it to their house, or putting a sign on it indicating their ownership.

How long does it take for an abandoned house to fall apart? ›

After three years, huge part of the roof would start to collapse. Plants would start to grow inside the house breaking apart cement floor. After 4 years, the walls would become severely rotted and wall ceiling and walls would start to fall. After 5 years, the house is completely unrecognizable.

What are three things that are not covered by homeowners insurance? ›

Standard homeowners insurance policies typically do not include coverage for valuable jewelry, artwork, other collectibles, identity theft protection, or damage caused by an earthquake or a flood.

What to do when no one will insure you? ›

Where Can I Get Car Insurance if Standard Companies Won't Insure Me?
  1. Go to the state's assigned risk pool. Many states require that drivers carry insurance, which is an issue if a driver is unable to get it. ...
  2. Check out a private insurance company that writes “high risk” insurance.
29 Jul 2021

What is never covered under homeowners insurance? ›

Termites and insect damage, bird or rodent damage, rust, rot, mold, and general wear and tear are not covered. Damage caused by smog or smoke from industrial or agricultural operations is also not covered. If something is poorly made or has a hidden defect, this is generally excluded and won't be covered.

What is the minimum score for a house? ›

It's recommended you have a credit score of 620 or higher when you apply for a conventional loan. If your score is below 620, lenders either won't be able to approve your loan or may be required to offer you a higher interest rate, which can result in higher monthly payments.

Who Cannot get a mortgage? ›

Common reasons for a declined mortgage application and what to do
  • Poor credit history. ...
  • Not registered to vote. ...
  • Too many credit applications. ...
  • Too much debt. ...
  • Payday loans. ...
  • Administration errors. ...
  • Not earning enough. ...
  • Not matching the lender's profile.

What are the three main items to qualify for mortgage? ›

When it comes to getting a lender's approval to buy or refinance a home, there are 3 key numbers that affect your ability to qualify for a mortgage and how much it will cost you — your credit score, debt-to-income ratio, and loan-to-value ratio.

Can I get a mortgage for more than the purchase price for renovations? ›

Most buyers can borrow enough to finance 110 percent of the home's value after renovation. The repair costs are placed in escrow at closing and released after a licensed contractor completes specific property-rehabilitation phases.

Can I borrow more money on my mortgage without remortgaging? ›

A second charge mortgage is a type of secured loan which uses your property as collateral to borrow more money. You can use the equity you have in your home as security against taking out another loan. This means you'll need some equity (capital built up in your property) to apply for additional borrowing.

What upgrades do not increase home value? ›

However, not all of these home improvements will add financial value back to the home.
  • 6 House Improvements To Avoid. ...
  • A Swimming Pool Or Hot Tub. ...
  • Elaborate Professional Landscaping. ...
  • Garage Conversion. ...
  • Unique Wallpaper. ...
  • Sunrooms. ...
  • Bedroom Conversion. ...
  • 4 Renovation Projects To Increase Home Value.
12 Sept 2022

Are renovation loans worth it? ›

If you want to make home repairs on your new home right away, the lower rates and closing costs of a home renovation loan make the most sense. If you've already built up some equity in your home, you can take advantage of a strong market with a home equity loan to increase the value of your home.

How can I finance a home renovation without equity? ›

An unsecured line of credit that does not require collateral could be a good fit for home improvements when you have no equity. You can use your line of credit as needed, giving you flexibility to pay for upgrades. A line of credit is a little different from a loan with a lump sum of money.

What should you not do when remortgaging? ›

There are a few things you should (or shouldn't) be doing in the weeks and months before you apply for a remortgage deal: Don't apply for credit just before a mortgage. Avoid erratic or heavy spending in the weeks before you apply. Stay out of your overdraft.

How do you pull equity out of your house? ›

Home equity loans, home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), and cash-out refinancing are the main ways to unlock home equity. Tapping your equity allows you to access needed funds without having to sell your home or take out a higher-interest personal loan.

Why is remortgaging so difficult? ›

The more you borrow against your property, the higher your LTV will be. The more difficult it could be to remortgage as a result. This is because lenders each have their own maximum LTV.


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2. How Rehab and Construction Funding Works for Real Estate Investors
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3. How an FHA 203k rehab loan works, 2022
(House Rich: The First Time Home Buyer Show)
4. This is THE Best Home Renovation Loan Program - HomeStyle Loan Explained
(Marcos Zambrano)
5. What is a Renovation Loan
(Mortgage Broker Australia - Hunter Galloway)
6. FHA 203k Rehab loan Explained | Homebuyer Education
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