7 ways to pay for emergency home repairs
Emergency home repairs can be expensive, but you have several options to help cover these expenses. Consider these seven ways to help you alleviate the cost.
1. Homeowners insurance claim
Homeowners insurance policies can help cover the cost of expensive repairs — especially ones that need immediate attention. Standard home insurance usually covers any damages caused by a disaster, or peril, as long as it’s not excluded from your policy. But home insurance won’t cover damage caused by regular wear and tear.
Your policy could cover most or all of a major expense: Your homeowners policy could pay for major repairs once you pay your deductible, making repairs less of a financial burden.
Insurer can vet the repair service for you: If your insurer pays for damages to your home, it can often recommend a company for you to use to complete the repairs.
Your premiums could increase if you make multiple claims: Insurance companies price policies based on the risks of claims. The more claims you file, the higher your risk becomes, so your rates will likely increase to reflect that higher risk.
Your policy may not cover everything: Make sure you understand your homeowners policy, as there are limitations on what the insurance company will cover and how much it’ll pay, depending on your policy type.
Learn More: How to File a Home Insurance Claim
2. Emergency fund
An emergency fund is money you have set aside in an account to cover unexpected expenses, such as emergency home repairs. Many financial experts recommend that you have at least three to six months’ worth of expenses saved.
Avoid going into debt: Using emergency funds means you don’t have to go into debt to cover your home repair costs.
Can access the money instantly: You’ll have quick access to your cash to pay for any necessary home repairs.
Must replace the funds: You’ll need to replenish your emergency fund to ensure you have enough saved up for another emergency.
Saving up takes time: If you empty your emergency fund to cover an unexpected home repair emergency, it may take some time to replace that money.
3. Home equity loan
A home equity loan allows you to tap into the equity on your property for funds to cover various expenses, including home repairs. Home equity loans are sometimes called second mortgages because you’ll have to make your loan payments in addition to your regular mortgage payments. Lenders often cap home equity loan amounts at 80% of your available equity.
Fixed interest rates: Home equity loans traditionally come with a fixed interest rate, which is likely lower than credit card interest rates.
Can often borrow a large amount: If you have significant equity in your home, you may be able to borrow a large amount of money to cover all your emergency repair costs.
Uses your home as collateral: Since you’re using your home to secure the loan, your lender could foreclose on your home if you fall behind on your payments.
Borrowing more than you need has risks: If you take out more than you need to cover emergency repair costs, you could take on unnecessary risk.
4. Home equity line of credit
A home equity line of credit (HELOC) is similar to a home equity loan in that it uses the equity in your house to provide access to money. But the line of credit acts more like a credit card: You can spend up to the approved amount as many times as you can pay it back. HELOCs have spending periods, also known as draw periods, followed by a repayment period. You can also make payments during the spending period. Interest rates are typically variable.
Flexible spending: You can use as little or as much of your HELOC funds as you want, making this a flexible option for financing emergency home repairs.
Only pay for what you use: You’ll only pay interest on the amount of money you actually use.
Can’t access HELOC funds during the repayment period: You have a limited spending period before you enter the repayment period and lose access to the line of credit.
Variable interest rates: HELOCs typically come with variable interest rates, which means your interest rate could go up over time and make it harder to budget for your payments.
5. Personal loan
Personal loans allow you to borrow a lump sum of cash from a lender (typically a bank, credit union, or online lender). You can use personal loans for various purposes, including home repairs and emergency expenses. Personal loans typically have fixed interest rates and fixed monthly payments for three to five years, though some lenders offer longer repayment terms.
Don’t need to use your home as collateral: Most personal loans are unsecured, so you don’t need to use your home or other valuables as collateral.
You have an end date for when the loan will be paid off: You’ll have set monthly payments for the duration of the loan, and you’ll know exactly when it will be paid off.
May need good credit to get the best rates: You typically need good to excellent credit to qualify for the lowest interest rates or larger loan amounts.
Taking on more debt: Taking on additional debt to pay for emergency home repairs could take a toll on your monthly budget.
6. Government programs
Some homeowners may qualify for funding through government programs. These funds typically have application processes. Some of the most common government funds for home repairs include:
Check with your local Department of Housing and Urban Development office to see if it has any grants or loans available.
May be able to borrow a large amount: Depending on the program, you may be able to qualify for a lot of money to make expensive repairs.
Avoid going into debt: Government programs can help you avoid going into debt to fix up your home.
Could take a while to receive funds: You’ll need to fill out applications for each program you’re interested in; it could take some time for approval and the funds to arrive.
May not be eligible: You’ll often have to meet certain eligibility requirements to qualify for federal financial assistance for home repairs.
7. 0% APR credit card
A 0% APR credit card allows you to make purchases on credit without incurring interest for a set number of months — sometimes 18 months or more. You should read the fine print on applications to ensure you’re getting the best terms possible. You should also consider whether the cards have annual dues or other fees. If approved, you can use the credit card to pay for your repairs and pay the balance over time.
Pay no interest if you pay balance off in time: If you pay off your balance before the promotional period ends, you won’t pay any interest.
May come with rewards: Many credit cards offer rewards or perks, like earning cash back when you make purchases with the card in certain spending categories.
May incur high interest: If you’re still carrying a balance on the card when the promotional period ends, you’ll start accruing interest at the card’s regular rate, which can be high.
Typically need good credit to qualify: If you have bad credit, you may not qualify for a 0% APR credit card.