The Best Tiny-House Loans of 2022

Photo: istockphoto.com

Many home buyers will need to secure a mortgage in order to buy a new home. But what if they are looking to purchase a tiny house? Buyers wondering, “Can you get a loan for a tiny house?” will be pleased to know that the answer is yes; however, tiny-house financing differs from a traditional mortgage. In fact, traditional mortgages typically are not available as financing for tiny homes. Instead, consumers will need to look to such financial tools as personal loans or financing from tiny-home builders. Also, buyers will see several differences with small-home loans, such as shorter loan terms and higher interest rates than traditional mortgages. Knowing what to expect and who to turn to for a tiny-home mortgage will go a long way in obtaining the best tiny-house loans.

  1. BEST OVERALL: LightStream
  2. RUNNER-UP: SoFi
  3. BEST FOR FAIR CREDIT: Upstart
  4. ALSO CONSIDER: LendingClub

The Best Tiny-House Loans Options

Photo: istockphoto.com

What to Consider When Choosing One of the Best Tiny- House Loans

Tiny-house financing options are different from traditional home mortgages, so it’s important to learn those differences in order to know how to get a loan for a tiny house. Having this information also can be very helpful when shopping for the best tiny-home mortgage lenders.

Loan Type

A traditional home mortgage is not an option when buying a tiny home, but there are ways to finance a tiny-home purchase. One of the most common loan types is a personal loan. Typically, the funds from a personal loan can be used for any purpose, which includes paying for a tiny house.

Another option is an RV loan, but the tiny house must meet specific requirements to qualify for this type of loan. First, the tiny house must be mobile, meaning it has wheels and can be easily moved. Second, it must meet specific standards to be qualified as a recreational vehicle. Third, it cannot be the primary dwelling of the owner.

Additionally, the best tiny-home builders may provide financing on a tiny-house purchase. These loans are more in line with mortgages because they often have longer loan terms; however, they also may require a down payment.

Annual Percentage Rate

Loan options for a tiny-home purchase usually come with higher interest rates than traditional home mortgages. They can range anywhere from 5 percent to 36 percent, depending on the type of loan. Personal loans may come with higher interest rates than would be the case if obtaining financing from a tiny-home builder. Therefore, for buyers who know how to finance building a tiny house with the builder, the interest rate could be on the lower end of the scale.

The borrower’s credit score also will play a role in the interest rate on the loan. Those with excellent credit scores—usually 740 and higher—will typically receive lower interest rates. Tiny- house financing with bad credit usually results in higher interest rates.

Maximum Loan Amount

One benefit of a tiny house is the affordable price tag. The cost for a tiny home can be anywhere from $8,000 to $60,000, although some are more expensive. In many cases, personal loan amounts can be as high as $100,000, so finding a personal loan for that amount shouldn’t be a problem. That’s not always the case, however. Some tiny-home lenders have lower maximum loan amounts, so it’s important to find out what their limits are in order to determine whether they can provide the necessary loan to finance a tiny-home purchase.

Approval Process

With a traditional mortgage, borrowers could wait between 30 and 60 days for approval. However, financing for a tiny home usually takes less time, mainly because the loan is often unsecured, and there’s no requirement to gather the same information as with a traditional mortgage. For example, there is no need for an appraisal or a title search, both of which take time to complete and are usually required for a traditional mortgage. The approval process for a loan to purchase a tiny house could take just a few days. In fact, there are lenders who say they can offer instant approval in some cases. This shorter approval process means tiny-house buyers could get moved into their new homes faster.

Funding Time

The approval process is not the only aspect of getting tiny-home financing that is faster than would be the case with a traditional home mortgage. Borrowers often can receive their funds much quicker, too. In fact, many tiny-home lenders will provide funds within 24 and 48 hours once the loan is approved. This is beneficial for borrowers looking to get moved into their new home quickly. It also provides peace of mind because borrowers aren’t left waiting for a closing date that could get delayed for a variety of reasons, which would mean they would have to wait longer to get the money to buy their tiny home.

Other Loan Options

While personal loans, RV loans, and loans from the tiny-home builder are common ways to finance a tiny-home purchase, there are some other options available to borrowers. For instance, borrowers who already own a home could apply for a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit using their existing home equity as collateral. A home equity loan works by providing a portion of the homeowner’s equity to them in a lump-sum payment, which they could then use to purchase a tiny home. These loan options could have a longer loan term and lower interest rate than other loan types, which could reduce the monthly payment on a tiny house. It could also enable the homeowner to purchase the land upon which to build their tiny home. However, lenders may have requirements in place that could be a hindrance, such as minimum loan amounts and how the money is used. In addition, if the borrower defaults on their home equity loan payments, they could risk losing their primary residence.

Our Top Picks

When searching for the best tiny-house loans, buyers will want to look for lenders that offer a high maximum loan amount, good interest rates, fast funding times, and decent loan terms.

Photo: lightstream.com

Why It Made the Cut: LightStream checks a lot of boxes for tiny-home lenders, including a relatively low APR range, high loan limits, Rate Beat Program, autopay discount, and mobile app.

Not only does LightStream have a relatively low APR range for a personal loan, but the company’s Rate Beat Program promises to beat any competitor’s APR by 0.10 percentage points, so customers can feel confident they’ve gotten the best deal. LightStream’s autopay discount is particularly generous as well, lowering the borrower’s APR by 0.5 percentage points. In addition, LightStream’s higher loan limit gives borrowers the flexibility to finance more expensive tiny homes with additional amenities and luxuries.

LightStream provides an online rate calculator for customers to estimate their monthly payments, but the estimate will not be entirely accurate because it only considers two data points: the loan amount and the loan’s purpose. Therefore, the rates provided by the calculator may not reflect the actual rate that a borrower will be offered, so customers will want to contact LightStream to get a more tailored quote.

For added convenience, LightStream’s mobile app allows borrowers to check payment due dates, monitor remaining loan balances, schedule payments, and apply for other loans.

Specs

  • Annual percentage rate: 5.73 percent to 20.49 percent
  • Maximum loan amount: $100,000
  • Funding time: 24 hours
  • Loan terms: 24 to 84 months
  • Other loan options: Auto, classic car, boat, RV

Pros

  • Low 5.73 percent to 20.49 percent APR range
  • High $100,000 loan limit
  • Competitive interest rates via the Rate Beat Program
  • Generous 0.5 percentage point autopay discount
  • Convenient loan management via mobile app

Cons

  • Somewhat imprecise rate calculator

The Best Tiny-House Loans Option: SoFi

Photo: sofi.com

Why It Made the Cut: SoFi offers a high maximum loan amount, a helpful loan comparison tool, and deferred payment options for unemployed borrowers, plus many loan options for various other financing needs.

SoFi’s high loan limit of $100,000 provides peace of mind for many borrowers because it essentially removes any cost barriers for financing a tiny house. Borrowers also can use SoFi’s loan payoff calculator to compare multiple different loan options to see how much money they could potentially save by choosing SoFi. This is especially helpful considering SoFi’s minimum APR is on the higher end at 7.99 percent.

SoFi’s Unemployed Protection Program allows borrowers who have lost their job to defer loan payments for 3-month periods up to 12 months total over the life of the loan. Unpaid interest will continue to accrue, but this program can provide some breathing room for customers who are experiencing financial hardship.

In addition, SoFi has an extensive number of loan products for customers to consider, which is beneficial for those who want to handle their different financing needs through a single lender.

Specs

  • Annual percentage rate: 7.99 percent to 22.73 percent
  • Maximum loan amount: $100,000
  • Funding time: 24 hours
  • Loan terms: 24 to 84 months
  • Other loan options: Mortgages, student, auto, small business

Pros

  • High $100,000 loan limit
  • Comprehensive loan cost analysis via loan comparison calculator
  • Deferred payment options available for unemployed borrowers
  • Wide range of other loan types available

Cons

  • Somewhat high 7.99 percent minimum APR

The Best Tiny-House Loans Option: Upstart

Photo: upstart.com

Why It Made the Cut: Upstart provides a great option for those with less-than-stellar credit thanks to its low minimum credit score requirement and easy-to-use payment calculator—plus borrowers could receive instant approval.

Although loan approval is not guaranteed, Upstart is very clear that borrowers with credit scores as low as 300 could be eligible for a tiny-home loan. Upstart’s loan payment calculator allows customers to check how much they’ll spend on loan payments each month by entering their loan amount, APR, and loan length. The calculator is very easy to use and updates instantly as the user adjusts each term. This way, borrowers can see how much their monthly payments would be with different loan terms and make a more informed decision about what they can afford with a tiny-house loan.

Upstart has a relatively low maximum loan amount compared to competitors, as well as an origination fee that could tack on 1 percent to 5 percent to the loan amount to the loan itself. However, borrowers could be instantly approved for a loan through Upstart’s AI program, which is ideal for those looking to get a loan quickly.

Specs

  • Annual percentage rate: 24.74 percent on average
  • Maximum loan amount: $50,000
  • Funding time: 24 to 48 hours
  • Loan terms: 36 to 60 months
  • Other loan options: Auto, small business

Pros

  • Low 300 credit score minimum requirement
  • User-friendly loan payment calculator
  • Instant loan approval may be available

Cons

  • 1 percent to 5 percent origination fee

The Best Tiny-House Loans Option: LendingClub

Photo: lendingclub.com

Why It Made the Cut: LendingClub has a precise rate-check tool and various online resources that can educate and assist borrowers looking for a tiny-home loan.

LendingClub’s online rate check is very detailed, asking for information that isn’t always required elsewhere, so borrowers get a more accurate rate estimate for their loan. However, with a relatively low $40,000 loan limit, high maximum APR of 35.89 percent, and high origination fees between 2 percent and 6 percent, an accurate rate estimate may not be sufficient in finding savings on a tiny-home loan with LendingClub. Instead, customers may want to contact LendingClub for a more customized estimate.

LendingClub’s website provides numerous resources to help educate borrowers about their loan options, including application checklists, credit repair advice, guidance on what to do if a loan application is denied, how to get a better interest rate on a loan, and more. These resources can help customers better understand the financial responsibility of taking out a tiny-house loan and figure out which loan terms make the most sense for their circumstances.

Specs

  • Annual percentage rate: 6.34 percent to 35.89 percent
  • Maximum loan amount: $40,000
  • Funding time: 24 hours
  • Loan terms: 36 to 60 months
  • Other loan options: Auto, small business

Pros

  • Precise and detail-driven online rate-check tool
  • Informative online educational loan resources

Cons

  • High 35.89 percent maximum APR
  • Relatively low $40,000 loan limit
  • Somewhat high 2 percent to 6 percent origination fee

Our Verdict

We chose LightStream as Best Overall because it offers a high loan limit coupled with a low APR range that could be further reduced by its Rate Beat Program and autopay discount. SoFi is our Runner-Up choice thanks to its helpful loan comparison tool and the ability for borrowers to defer payments if they find themselves unemployed.

How We Chose the Best Tiny-House Loans

When selecting the best tiny-house loans, we looked at cost factors such as the APR range that borrowers could expect with each lender. We also considered the maximum loan amounts that were available, which could affect how much home a person could afford to purchase. Loan terms were also a factor, as the length of a loan could impact affordability of the loan and the size of a borrower’s monthly payment.

Funding timelines, application processes, and online resources were all taken into consideration as well. Unique offerings such as special considerations for borrowers with less-than-stellar credit or those who become unemployed also were reviewed.

Before You Choose One of the Best Tiny-House Loans

Selecting one of the best tiny-house loans can provide the right financing option for many borrowers, but they are not always the best fit for every borrower. For example, someone looking for how to get a loan for a mobile home will want to look toward loans specifically for that purpose via the best mobile home loan companies. Therefore, it’s important to thoroughly research every lender as well as all the loan terms and requirements to see how each one compares. In fact, borrowers will want to compare a minimum of three different lenders and loan terms to see what’s available for tiny-home financing. Include brick-and-mortar banks and credit unions as well as online lenders to fully explore all available options. In addition, borrowers will want to talk with their local financial representative, who may have additional financing options to share for purchasing a tiny home.

Cost of Taking Out One of the Best Tiny-House Loans

The cost of taking out one of the best tiny-house loans likely won’t be the same for every borrower. In fact, loan costs almost always vary based on a number of factors including the borrower’s income, credit score, and financial circumstances. In addition, the loan amount, interest rate, origination fees, and length of the loan also play a role in the total cost of a tiny- house loan. It’s important to compare all of these factors to estimate the total cost of the loan in order to find the tiny-home loan with the lowest costs. Changes to even one factor can increase or lower the cost of the loan.

The Advantages of Taking Out One of the Best Tiny- House Loans

Looking into obtaining one of the best tiny-house loans can be the best way to finance a tiny-home purchase. Some of these loans have high maximum loan amounts so borrowers can rest easy knowing they may be able to qualify for the funds needed to purchase a tiny home. Borrowers also could benefit from competitive interest rates and quick funding times so the loan proceeds quickly land in their bank accounts. The knowledge and experience from the lenders featured on this list can be very helpful for borrowers looking to finance a tiny home.

  • Several lenders offer high maximum loan amounts.
  • Funding time is very quick, typically between 24 and 48 hours following loan approval.
  • The lenders offer a good range of loan terms, some as long as 84 months.

FAQs

Because tiny-home loans differ from traditional home mortgages, it’s important to research these loans thoroughly before filling out any loan application. These are some of the most common questions borrowers ask when they start looking for the best tiny-house loans.

Q. How hard is it to finance a tiny home?

It usually is not hard to finance a tiny home, but it will require different financing than a traditional home mortgage.

Q. What credit score do you need to finance a tiny house?

Credit score requirements vary based on the lender, but there are some lenders willing to work with borrowers who have low or fair credit scores.

Q. Is it cheaper to buy or build a tiny house?

That varies greatly based on a number of factors, including the size of the home, the materials used in construction, the home’s amenities, and who the builder is.

Q. Do banks offer mortgages for tiny homes?

Banks do not typically offer home mortgages for tiny homes.

Q. Is it easy to get approved for a tiny home loan?

That depends on the borrower’s financial standing, including income, credit score, and debt-to-income ratio (the amount of debt the borrower has in relation to their total income).

Q. How long does it take to pay off a tiny house loan?

That depends on the financing option and the loan amount.

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