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Top 10 Construction Loans In 2020

Check out our list of the top 10 construction loans in 2020
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Author: Edith Muthoni
Last Updated: March 8, 2020
Image of an ongoing house construction - Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash
Image of an ongoing house construction - Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash

The idea of building a home, sinking a swimming pool or pursuing significant structural adjustments to your property is all exciting until you factor in the costs. Most people cannot afford to build a new home or pay for major structural improvements.

Enter a special type of funding – the construction loan. This refers to a short term loan advanced to individuals seeking to custom-build their homes or carry out capital intensive property improvements.  It differs from the conventional mortgage in the sense that it is short term, attracts higher interest rates – as most lenders consider it risky – and the amounts advanced can be used to cover not just the home building costs  but virtually every other cost relating to the construction and property improvement.

Also, see how you can easily qualify for a loan even with a bad credit score 

Note: There are only two instances when a credit union or a local bank will advance you a construction loan. One, is if you are a certified real estate developer  and two is if you involve a qualified builder in the project. In either case, you will be required to furnish the lender with the construction Blue Book and have the minimum down payment that often averages 20% the loan amount.

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    Top constructions loans for 2020: Summary

    Reviewers Choice
    Wells Fargo – up to 89% of your home value
    Rating
    Rating
    Available Loan Amount
    $25,000 - $500,000
    Available Term Length
    20 years
    Representative APR
    4.275% - 9.375%
    Min Credit Score
    600 FICO
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    Rating
    Rating
    Available Loan Amount
    $3,000 - N/A
    Available Term Length
    30 years
    Representative APR
    3.49%
    Min Credit Score
    620 FICO
    Normandy – up to $4 million at 10.95% APR
    Rating
    Rating
    Available Loan Amount
    $5,000 - $4 million
    Available Term Length
    18 months
    Representative APR
    10.95%
    Min Credit Score
    620 FICO
    NBKC – Over 25 years of industry experience
    Rating
    Rating
    Available Loan Amount
    $5,000 - $250,000
    Available Term Length
    36-60 months
    Representative APR
    4.33% - 4.55%
    Min Credit Score
    600 FICO
    Kabbage – up to $150,000 at 10% APR
    Rating
    Rating
    Available Loan Amount
    $2,000 - $250,000
    Available Term Length
    6-18 months
    Representative APR
    1.5% -10%
    Min Credit Score
    550 FICO

    How does it work?

    Construction loans are short-term, with their repayment periods extending to no more than 12 months.

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    To qualify for a construction loan, you must either have the backing of a qualified builder or be a qualified developer yourself – in which case it would be best if you applied for the owner-builder construction loan. Note, however, that in either case you will be required to furnish the lender with the construction “blue book,” which comprehensively details the estimated construction costs and workflow.

    Understand that the loan has to be repaid within the stipulated time. Most lenders have nonetheless, adopted these three flexible repayment options. The first, and the most popular, involves repaying the loan in equal monthly installments. The second involves paying the loan’s monthly interest during the construction period and settling the balance in lump sum upon completion. Thirdly, you can chose to apply for the “End Loan” and use it to clear the construction loan. The end loan in this context refers to a special loan that can be easily converted into a medium- to a long-term fixed-rate mortgage.

    Why should you take a construction loan?

    I. Capital for home investment

    A construction loan gives you the much-needed capital to build a home or real estate project. Just like conventional mortgages, construction loans are ideal if you are looking to become a homeowner, but have no capital to purchase your own house. The loan will cover all the project costs  and most even have the option of converting the loan into a mortgage later.

    II. Build your customized home

    A construction loan gives you the rare opportunity to build a house from the ground up. You can work with a builder of your choice or even make it yourself. These loans give you the freedom to design and build a unique home that captures your family’s needs.

    III. Fund your commercial construction project

    Construction loans can fund your commercial property and projects. If you are in the construction business, these loans can be used to invest in equipment, labor, or any other costs involved in a real estate project. And since you have the refinancing option, you can setup the real estate property using the loan and easily convert it to a long-term repayment plan.

    Here is a list of what we consider the Best Homeowner loans in 2020

    What are the pros and cons of taking a construction loan?

    Pros

    • Its perfect credit for building custom-homes and real-estate projects
    • It covers all the project costs
    • It is a  short-term loan with feasible repayment plans
    • It can be refinanced at the end of the term or converted to a long-term mortgage
    • It allows you to save money on construction as opposed to mortgages

    Cons

    • It has short repayment periods – often within 12 months or by the time of completing the project
    • It attracts high and variable interests unlike the fixed-rate mortgages
    • Its difficult to qualify for construction loan if you are not a certified builder

    Selection criteria

    • Loan products and terms
    • Loan application process and waiting time
    • Minimum qualification requirements
    • Customer service
    • Interest rate
    • Draw schedule
    • Complaints and Reviews

    Top 10 constructions loans for 2020

    1. US Bank – 20% minimum down payment

    US Bank should be one of your top picks if you are in the market for construction loans. The bank is well-versed in the new construction sector and boasts profound experience gained from numerous successfully launched and completed real estate projects. They quickly pair you with a loan officer to initiate the loan process and have several types of construction loans, including construction-only and building repair loans on offer. They have comprehensive resources for construction as well as advice on how to get qualified contractors for your project. These banking services can be accessed in over 41 states in the US.

    Our Rating

    • It offers flexible construction loans and options
    • Bank branches are evenly distributed across the US
    • It offers a loan officer for face-to-face support
    • There is no online application option
    • Loan application involves a lot of paperwork

    2. Wells Fargo – up to 89% of your home value

    Wells Fargo is another popular lender offering different types of construction loans for qualifying applicants. They have a nationwide network of consultants and loan officers who are available via phone. The lender also provides an extended rate lock program that locks your interest rate for up to 24 months. This significantly reduces the overall interest you end up paying on your loan. Wells Fargo also accepts online applications and has a financing checklist you can use to review eligibility requirements.

    Our Rating

    • Maintains easy-to-reach consultants
    • It provides for home equity refinancing
    • You can apply for the loan online
    • Qualifying for the loan requires a high credit score (above 600)
    • Loan closing costs are highly variable

    3. Normandy – up to $4 million at 10.95% APR

    Normandy is another mortgage lender offering various types of construction loans. They have a particular interest in funding residential home constructions. They also provide land loans and advisory expertise in the new home construction loans sector. Today, Normandy has provided over $800 million in residential construction loans. These services, including loan funding and servicing are available in 39 states across the US. They also allow online registration and application. Additionally, successful applicants receive their loans within 21 days. Normandy enjoys a reputable A+ rating in BBB and offers online account management as well as online loan pre-qualification.

    Our Rating

    • Maintains a fast loan application and approval process
    • Normandy offers multiple types of construction loans
    • Normandy also advances land loans
    • Normandy asks for strict pre-qualification requirements
    • The lender charges high-interest rates - APR 10.95%

    4. NBKC – Over 25 years of industry experience

    The National Bank of Kansas City is an FDIC insured bank and approved Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae Lender. It offers a wide range of home loan products, including VA, FHA, and building and construction loans. NBKC is highly reputed for exceptional customer service and convenience. They have 25 years of experience in the banking sector and allow nationwide online loan application. NBKC provides a line of credit home construction loans. They also offer discounts to members as well as a helpful finance calculator.

    Our Rating

    • The loan application process is easy and straightforward
    • Provides you with extra resources like loan calculators
    • The lender has a nation-wide online presence
    • Lacks sufficient physical offices throughout the country

    5. Kabbage – up to $150,000 at 10% APR

    Kabbage is another popular online lending platform that offers various types of personal and business loans, including construction loans. It provides a business line of credit loans to all qualifying companies. This includes all sizes and sectors. If you are looking for a construction loan awarded to contractors and builders, Kabbage offers a quick, convenient way to apply for up to $150,000. Repayments are made in six or twelve months with monthly fee inclusive of the interest. Unlike most lenders, you do not need an excellent credit score. However, you must have a business in operation for at least 12 months. This is ideal if you need construction loans for a real estate project or commercial buildings.

    Our Rating

    • The loans come with flat fee rates and 10% APR
    • Fast loan disbursement- within 24 hours
    • Maintains a convenient online loan application process
    • One must have at least 12 months business credit history
    • Requires proof of monthly $4,200 minimum income

    6. Quicken Loans –Best for the wide variety of loans availed

    Quicken Loans is another popular lender offering multiple construction and mortgage loan products. It is the largest online lender in the US if you are looking for an established lender with experience in both mortgage and home refinancing. Established in 1985, Quicken is focused on offering a wide range of mortgage loans, both personal and commercial. Their current home loan offers include VA, FHA, Adjustable-rate, Flat-rate, and Jumbo. You can also apply for a construction loan to finance your new house. In addition to this, Quicken offers loan and mortgage calculators, and refinance guides.

    Our Rating

    • Accepts and processes online construction loan applications.
    • Low interest rates make it ideal for refinancing loans.
    • Offers quick loans.
    • Doesn't provide home-equity refinancing.
    • It's purely online with no office locations.

    7. Fund Box – up to $100,000 at 78.6% APR

    If you run a construction business, then you may need to take loans to fund projects awaiting invoices from your clients. FundBox offers invoice financing that allows you to borrow a maximum amount limited only by what your invoices generate. You can take loans from $1,000 to $100,000 paid within three to six months. It is more like selling your invoices at a discount. This loan can be used in construction or any other business. Loans are also disbursed within a few hours.

    Our Rating

    • Smooth loan application process.
    • Perfect for funding various phases of your construction.
    • Fundbox lends to all types of credit scores.
    • Relatively high interest rates - up to 798% APR.
    • You will be charged for early loan repayment.

    8. Lending Tree – up to $35,000 at 36% APR

    Lending Tree and its array of commercial construction loans works best for businesses in the construction industry. You can borrow term loans, SBA, lines of credit, and equipment financing loans among others. Lending tree also allows you to borrow enough capital to finance your construction projects. This P2P loans marketplace gives you a platform where you can find construction, mortgage, and home refinancing loans with adjustable and fixed-rate options. Their fees and rates are relatively low, although rates vary depending on the individual lender. You however need to have a business with an over 12-month history of operation and a minimum monthly income of $8,000 to qualify for the loan.

    Our Rating

    • Quick loan disbursement - within 24 hours
    • You can qualify with low credit score or non-existent credit history
    • Loans come with ow rates and fees - APR starting from 5.99%
    • Charges highly variable interest rates
    • High minimum monthly income requirement

    9. Guaranteed Rate – Available in over 50 states

    Guaranteed rate is a highly reputable lender with various construction and mortgage loan offers. It is the one-stop solution that loans you enough capital to finance the construction or purchase of a real estate property. Guaranteed rate is also ideal if you are looking for an interest-only construction and mortgage refinancing loans. As an interest-only lender, you will pay lower interest compared to other conventional offers. The platform is also famed for its quality customer service and is available in all the 50 states.

    Our Rating

    • You can lock your interest during the construction phase
    • Long-term home refinancing options that include 15 ad 30-year terms
    • Maintains a straightforward loan application process
    • Smooth loan application process

    What to consider when choosing a construction loan

    There are various things to consider before and after applying for a construction loan. These loans are not ideal for everyone, and there is no one-fit-for all. Some of the areas to give priority include:

    I. Credit score

    Qualifying for a construction loan can be tough if you have a limited credit history. You should, therefore, consider developing a consistent history and a good rating before applying for such loans. It is also essential to watch and continue building your credit after successfully applying for a construction loan. This will increase your likelihood of qualifying for the end loan, which is very critical in facilitating the refinancing of your credit into a long-term mortgage.

    II. Loan terms and policies

    Different lenders impose different conditions on their loan products. You should carefully read all the terms and clauses in the loaning agreement to ensure you are well informed on all aspects. You can also compare various offers from local lenders in your area to find those with better loans and repayment terms. If you do not understand any part of the contract, ask the lender for clarity, or engage a professional attorney or real estate broker.

    III. Builder vs. owner-builder

    You can build your own home if you have the experience. However, most lenders are reluctant to fund individuals to develop their own homes. You will have to provide a comprehensive list of requirements and proof of knowledge/experience in construction. If you are using a builder, make sure you work with qualified professionals. This will ensure your home’s value is higher than the loan you took to facilitate its construction.

    IV. Business vs. residential construction

    Your project, including aspects of why you build the home, usually determines the best loan for you. If you are applying for a residential construction project, there are loan products better suited to residential apartments. Just as there are loans for building your own home. Loans offered to businesses that are in the construction sector are also different. Knowing these minor details will help you pick the best construction loan for your unique needs.

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    Bottom line

    A construction loan can finance your dream home from scratch. It is ideal if you have the financial cushion to complete repayments within a year and deal with any construction set-backs. Upon completion, you can apply for an end loan and enroll for a current long-term mortgage plan. It is worth noting that construction loans are balloon mortgages that require payments to be completed by the time your home is finished. They are perfect for those with a piece of property they want to develop. If you are looking for a place to stay, a traditional loan or mortgage might be the right solution for your goals. Nevertheless, several lenders are offering feasible construction loans in the market. The above list comprises some top lenders that will allow you to build a unique home with your specifications.

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    Glossary of Loan Terms

    Credit Score

    A credit score shows your creditworthiness. It's primarily based on how much money you owe to loan or credit card companies, if you have ever missed payments or if you have ever defaulted on a loan.

    Guaranteed Approval

    Guaranteed Approval is when, no matter how bad, your credit score its, your loan application will not get declined.

    Cash Advance

    A Cash Advance is a short-term loan that has steep interest rates and fees.

    Collateral

    Collateral is when you put up an item against your loan such as your house or car. These can be reposessed if you miss payments.

    Credit Limit

    A Credit Limit is the highest amont of credit a lender will lend to the borrower.

    Credit Rating

    Your Credit Rating is how likely you are to fulfil your loan payments and how risky you are as a borrower.

    Default

    If you default on your loan it means you are unable to keep up with your payments and no longer pay back your loan.

    Interest

    The Interest is a percentage based on the amount of your loan that you pay back to the lender for using their money.

    Fixed Interest Rate

    Fixed Interest Rate is when the interest rate of your loan will not change over the period you are paying off you loan.

    Late Fee

    If you miss a payment the lender will charge you for being late, this is known as a late fee.

    Principle

    The Principle amount the borrower owes the lender, not including any interest or fees.

    Prime Rate

    This is the Interest Rate used by banks for borrowers with good credit scores.

    Secured Loan

    A Secured Loan is when you put collateral such as your house or car up against the amount you're borrowing.

    Unsecured Personal Loan

    An Unsecured Personal Loan is when you have a loan based soley on your creditworthliness without using collateral.

    Variable Rate

    A Variable Rate is when the interest rate of you loan will change with inflation. Sometimes this will lower your interest rate, but other times it will increase.

    AAA Credit

    Having an AAA Credit Rating is the highest rating you can have.

    Bridge Loan

    A Bridge Loan is a short term loand that can last from 2 weeks up to 3 years dependant on lender.

    Installment Loan

    An Installment Loan is a loan that is paid back bi-weekly or monthly over the period in which the loan is borrowed for.

    Federal Student Loan

    If you obtain a Federal Student Loan to pay your way through College ten you loan is held with the U.S. Department of Education.

    Financial Aid

    Financial Aid is funding available to post-secondary education students in America.

    Guarantor

    A Guarantor co-signs on a loan stating the borrower is able to make the payments, but if they miss any or default the Guarantor will have to pay.

    Home Equity Loans

    Home Equity Loans is where you borrow the equity from your property and pay it back with interest and fees over an agreed time period with the lender.

    LIBOR

    LIBOR is the London Inter-Bank Offered Rate which is the benchmarker for

    Debt Consolidation

    Debt Consolidation is when you take out one loans to pay off all others. This leads to one monthyl payment, usually with a lower interest rate.

    FAQs

    What is a construction loan?

    A construction loan is also referred to as a self-build loan and is taken by an individual wishing to build a home or any other customized real estate project. The loan can be used to either fund the entire project or just the initial stages of the construction project before the developer acquires long-term funding. Some of the unique characteristics of a construction loan include the fact that it is short term and is only availed to certified investors.

    What are the minimum qualifications for a construction loan?

    Construction loans are a specialty of regional banks and credit unions as they have a better understanding of their local real estate market. To qualify for the loan, you must be a certified builder or prove that a qualified builder will oversee the project. You also must have a good credit score and raise the minimum down payment that ranges from 20% to as much as 30% of the cost of construction.

    How long does it take for the construction loan to get approved?

    Processing construction loan applications is a rigorous process that involves checking not just the financial background of the applicant but also their professional background as well as the viability of their construction project – the Blue Book. It may, therefore, take longer than mortgages – averaging between 7 and 10 days.

    Can I use a physical asset as a guarantee for the down payment?

    Yes. For instance, if you a piece of land and wished to acquire a construction loan to develop it, most innovative lenders will agree to hold onto the land documents as collateral for the loan. This in some cases, eliminates the need for the down payment.

    What is the difference between a construction loan and a mortgage?

    The key differences between construction loans and a home mortgage lie in the amounts involved, the interest rates charged, and repayment periods. There is only so much that a banker is willing to advance you in the form of a construction loan while mortgages carry extensive loan limits. Additionally, construction loans carry high and variable interest rates while most mortgages are fixed rate. Construction loans must also be paid within a short period – usually 12 months – while mortgages repayments can extend to as much as 30 years.

    Do I have to pay closure fees twice?

    Like most other real estate related debts, construction loans carry significant closing that is paid during loan application and approval. The second phase of closing fees for a construction home comes about if you wish to refinance the loan and convert it into a mortgage where you get to pay the closing fees associated with acquiring the refinancing loan.

    Who can qualify for a construction loan?

    While qualifying for a construction loan may be hard, it isn’t impossible. Before going through with the construction process, however, you must go through your lender’s qualification requirements to ensure that you fulfill their minimum requirements.

    Types of Loan – A-Z Directory

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    Edith is an investment writer, trader, and personal finance coach specializing in investments advice around the fintech niche. Her fields of expertise include stocks, commodities, forex, indices, bonds, and cryptocurrency investments. She holds a Masters degree in Economics with years of experience as a banker-cum-investment analyst. She is currently the chief editor, learnbonds.com where she specializes in spotting investment opportunities in the emerging financial technology scene and coming up with practical strategies for their exploitation. She also helps her clients identify and take advantage of investment opportunities in the disruptive Fintech world.

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