Home repairs can be expensive, and an emergency can arise when you least expect it. Using a credit card with a high interest rate can cause you to pay much more in the long run than the actual cost of repairs. There are several other options to consider.
Ways to Pay for Repairs Yourself
If something breaks down because of regular wear and tear or because it has reached the end of its lifespan, you’ll probably be on the hook for repair costs. Ideally, you should have money for repairs and maintenance set aside in a separate savings account. If you don’t have enough in savings, you’ll have to find another way to cover the repair bill.
A home equity line of credit can allow you to tap into your home equity as needed to cover repairs and then pay back the money over time. The interest rate for a HELOC is typically much lower than the rate for a credit card. If you don’t already have a HELOC set up, however, you may not be able to complete the process before you have to pay for emergency repairs.
A cash-out refinance can allow you to access a sum of money from your home equity and take out a new loan with the amount you borrowed added to your existing mortgage balance. You may get a lower interest rate than you could get with a HELOC, and your interest rate for your mortgage may also go down when you refinance.
Another option is to take out a personal loan. Your interest rate will likely be much lower than the rate on a credit card. A disadvantage of a HELOC is that you have to use your house as collateral and can risk foreclosure if you don’t keep up with the payments. With a personal loan, you won’t have to use your house as collateral.
Other Sources of Payment
Before you pay for repairs out of pocket, find out if your homeowners insurance will cover the cost. If the damage occurred because of a covered peril, such as a storm, your insurer may pay most of the repair bill after you pay your deductible.
If your home was damaged in a disaster, you may qualify for assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA will only cover repairs that your homeowners insurance doesn’t cover, and it won’t necessarily pay to restore your house to its former condition.
The Federal Housing Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Agriculture offer loans and grants that can help with home repairs. These programs have income and equity limits and other requirements.
State and local governments, as well as some agencies and financial institutions, offer community development loans and grants for home repairs. You may have to meet income requirements and other eligibility criteria. Your local housing agency can provide more specific information.