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Monday, October 25th
LendingClub has experienced some big changes over the last few years. Originally created as a peer-to-peer platform, where individual and business investors could choose to fund consumer loans (hence the name LendingClub), this source of home improvement loans now operates like a traditional financial institution. All funding is provided by LendingClub's own bank by the same name, making the loan application extremely streamlined when compared with platforms that refer you to multiple lenders at once.
No surprises in the application process
To get a home improvement loan through LendingClub, start by entering your desired loan amount (between $1,000 and $40,000) and selecting the loan's purpose in the dropdown box, then click on "Check Your Rate" . Indicate whether you're applying alone or with a co-applicant, your date of birth, and your total annual income. Finally, enter your first and last name, plus your address, and LendingClub will try to verify your credit report. If it can't do so based on the information provided, you'll be asked for your Social Security Number.
Expect origination fees and just-average interest rates
What can you anticipate if you are matched with a loan? That largely depends on your details: how much you're trying to borrow, your credit history, your income, and so forth. All home improvement loans funded through LendingClub have a minimum repayment term of at least three years, giving you ample time to repay it. Interest rates here are fairly average, and you should expect origination fees that range from 3% to 6%. These are typically rolled into the total cost of the loan or deducted from the payout deposited to your bank account. LendingClub's fine print at the bottom of their loans page says that their average loan has an origination fee of 5% and an APR of 15.95%.
Still being re-evaluated by the BBB
How about LendingClub's reputation? Since their business model has changed so drastically, it's difficult to put their past history into perspective. However, a few items stand out and are worth keeping in mind. The company used to have an "A" rating from the Better Business Bureau, but their listing during our most recent check with the BBB was simply "Not Rated" . That indicates that LendingClub's new structure is still under consideration. More reassuringly, their sole lender WebBank received both accreditation and an "A+" from the BBB: you shouldn't encounter any issues with fraud or other problems if you pursue a home improvement loan through the LendingClub website.
Plenty of recent, positive customer comments
We also followed the link on the LendingClub site to see some of the more than 57,000 independently-verified reviews posted there, so that we could see what their most recent comments indicated about the new service. Most of the clients gave LendingClub a rating of 4 or 5 stars, and we were pleased to see that a decent number of those came from repeat customers.
Wait and see
LendingClub appears to be on the right track, having made quite a few changes to their service that have received positive feedback from their borrowers. But until the company puts in more time with their new lending model, and has an actual rating from the BBB, we hesitate to give LendingClub a rating higher than average. Reputation matters, and while LendingClub seems to have fixed some of the issues that they had in the past, we'd like to see confirmation of that. You should be fine if you choose to take a home improvement loan here, but we encourage you to consider other options too.
If you're looking to finally renovate that kitchen straight out of the 70's, or build on the extra bedroom you need, chances are good that you don't just have the cash sitting around to get it done. Most homeowners use a home improvement loan to access the funds required to turn their house into a "home sweet home" .
There are several types of financing that can be used to make improvements or repairs. These depend on a variety of factors: the amount of equity you have already built up in your property, your credit history, and the amount of money you need.
If you have little equity in your home - in other words, you haven't made many payments on your mortgage yet, and you didn't put down much money at closing - you'll most likely use a home improvement loan to fund your projects. These loans are based on your overall credit history; the higher your credit score and the lower your debts, the better rates and terms you'll get.
On the other hand, if you've built up equity in your home, you'll be able to access three other types of home improvement loans: cash-out refinancing, a home equity loan (HEL), and a home equity line of credit (HELOC). Each type has its ins and outs, and not every loan type is appropriate for a particular borrowing need. For example, a cash-out refinance is great if you can reset your mortgage at a much lower interest rate - but it also comes with closing costs (which can sometimes be rolled back into the loan amount). HELOCs let you take money out as-needed, but interest rates can be higher than some home equity loans and are often adjustable: your payments may increase in the future.
As you can see, choosing a home improvement loan leaves you with some research to do. While considering your options, here are some guidelines to help clarify which service you should use:
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