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Tiny House Financing: Get a Loan for Your Tiny Home

The market for tiny homes may be getting bigger, but financing options are limited to personal loans from online lenders and credit unions, loans through a builder and home equity loans.

Steve NicastroFeb 24, 2021

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When buying a standard home, you’d typically get a mortgage. If you’re in the market for a tiny house — commonly defined as a home that’s 400 square feet or smaller — qualifying for a pint-size mortgage is unlikely.

The mortgage you need for a tiny home may be smaller than a traditional lender’s minimum loan amount, which can start at $50,000. Tiny homes typically cost between $30,000 to $150,000. An additional challenge: The lender may require that your tiny home have a foundation on land you already own.

Here are options for financing a tiny home:

  • Personal loans from online lenders, banks and credit unions.

  • Financing through lenders partnered with tiny home builders.

  • Home equity loans, if you own a primary residence.

Summary of Tiny House Financing: Get a Loan for Your Tiny Home

Our picks for

Tiny house personal loans

Lightstream
Check rate

on LightStream's website

LightStream

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Lightstream

Est. APR

4.49-20.49%

Loan Amount

$5,000-$100,000

Min. Credit Score

660
Check rate

on LightStream's website


Min. Credit Score

660

Key facts

LightStream personal loans can be used to purchase a tiny house or fund related expenses, such as land or a trailer. APRs for its tiny house loans range from 5.95% to 16.79%.

Pros

  • No fees.

  • Competitive rates among online lenders.

  • Offers .5% rate discount for setting up autopay.

  • Special features including rate beat program and satisfaction guarantee.

Cons

  • No option to pre-qualify on its website.

  • Requires several years of credit history.

  • Does not offer direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 660.

  • Several years of credit history.

  • Multiple account types within your credit history, like credit cards, a car loan or other installment loan and a mortgage.

  • Strong payment history with few or no delinquencies.

  • Investments, retirement savings or other evidence of an ability to save money.

  • Enough income to pay existing debts and a new LightStream loan.

Available Term Lengths

2 to 7 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: None.

  • Late fee: None.

Disclaimer

Your loan terms, including APR, may differ based on loan purpose, amount, term length, and your credit profile. AutoPay discount of .50% points is only available when selected prior to loan funding. Rates without AutoPay will be .50% points higher. To obtain a loan, you must complete an application on LightStream.com which may affect your credit score. Subject to credit approval. Conditions and limitations apply. Advertised rates and terms are subject to change without notice. Payment example: Monthly payments for a $10,000 loan at 6.14% APR with a term of 3 years would result in 36 monthly payments of $304.85. Truist Bank is an Equal Housing Lender. ©2021 Truist Financial Corporation. SunTrust, Truist, LightStream, the LightStream logo, and the SunTrust logo are service marks of Truist Financial Corporation. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Lending services provided by Truist Bank.

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SoFi
Check rate

on SoFi's website

SoFi

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
SoFi

Est. APR

4.99-19.63%

Loan Amount

$5,000-$100,000

Min. Credit Score

680
Check rate

on SoFi's website


Min. Credit Score

680

Key facts

SoFi offers large loan amounts and allows borrowers to apply for a joint loan. The lender also has member perks, like unemployment protection and free career advising.

Pros

  • No fees.

  • Offers co-sign and joint loan options.

  • Offers .25% rate discount for setting up autopay.

  • Offers unemployment protection.

  • Provides mobile app to manage your loan.

Cons

  • No secured loan option.

Qualifications

  • Must legally be an adult in your state.

  • Must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or visa holder.

  • Must be employed, have sufficient income or have an offer of employment to start within the next 90 days.

Available Term Lengths

2 to 7 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: None.

  • Late fee: None.

Disclaimer

Fixed rates from 4.99% APR to 19.63% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of August 11, 2021 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, income, and other factors. See APR examples and terms. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

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Marcus by Goldman Sachs
Check rate

on Goldman Sachs's website

Marcus by Goldman Sachs

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Marcus by Goldman Sachs

Est. APR

6.99-19.99%

Loan Amount

$3,500-$40,000

Min. Credit Score

660
Check rate

on Goldman Sachs's website


Min. Credit Score

660

Key facts

Marcus loans can be used for any purpose. The lender lets borrowers choose monthly payment amounts and loan terms that fit their budgets.

Pros

  • No fees.

  • Wide variety of repayment term options.

  • Offers .25% rate discount for setting up autopay.

  • Offers direct payment to creditors for debt consolidation loans.


Cons

  • No co-sign, joint or secured loan option.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 660 FICO.

  • May need to provide proof of income, including recent pay stubs or bank statements.

  • May need to provide Social Security number, Individual Tax ID number or a photo ID.

Available Term Lengths

3 to 6 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: None.

  • Late fee: None.

Disclaimer

Your loan terms are not guaranteed and are subject to our verification of your identity and credit information. To obtain a loan, you must submit additional documentation including an application that may affect your credit score. The availability of a loan offer and the terms of your actual offer will vary due to a number of factors, including your loan purpose and our evaluation of your creditworthiness. Rates will vary based on many factors, such as your creditworthiness (for example, credit score and credit history) and the length of your loan (for example, rates for 36 month loans are generally lower than rates for 72 month loans). Your maximum loan amount may vary depending on your loan purpose, income and creditworthiness. Your verifiable income must support your ability to repay your loan. Marcus by Goldman Sachs is a brand of Goldman Sachs Bank USA and all loans are issued by Goldman Sachs Bank USA, Salt Lake City Branch. Applications are subject to additional terms and conditions. Receive a 0.25% APR reduction when you enroll in AutoPay. This reduction will not be applied if AutoPay is not in effect. When enrolled, a larger portion of your monthly payment will be applied to your principal loan amount and less interest will accrue on your loan, which may result in a smaller final payment. See loan agreement for details.

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Upgrade
Check rate

on Upgrade's website

Upgrade

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Upgrade

Est. APR

5.94-35.47%

Loan Amount

$1,000-$50,000

Min. Credit Score

560
Check rate

on Upgrade's website


Min. Credit Score

560

Key facts

Upgrade offers personal loans plus credit-building tools; you'll need strong cash flow to qualify.

Pros

  • Allows secured and joint loans.

  • Offers a wide range of repayment terms.

  • Offers a 0.5% rate discount for setting up autopay.

  • Offers significant rate discount for checking account customers.

  • Offers rate discount with direct payment to creditors on debt consolidation loans.

Cons

  • Charges origination fee.

  • No co-signed loan option.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 560; borrower average is 678.

  • Minimum annual income: None; borrower average is $78,000.

  • Minimum number of accounts on credit history: Two accounts.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: Less than or equal to 75%, including mortgage and calculating in your new personal loan.

Available Term Lengths

2 to 7 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 2.9% to 8%.

Disclaimer

Personal loans made through Upgrade feature APRs of 5.94%-35.47%. All personal loans have a 2.9% to 8% origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Lowest rates require Autopay and paying off a portion of existing debt directly. For example, if you receive a $10,000 loan with a 36-month term and a 17.98% APR (which includes a 14.32% yearly interest rate and a 5% one-time origination fee), you would receive $9,500 in your account and would have a required monthly payment of $343.33. Over the life of the loan, your payments would total $12,359.97. The APR on your loan may be higher or lower and your loan offers may not have multiple term lengths available. Actual rate depends on credit score, credit usage history, loan term, and other factors. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. There is no fee or penalty for repaying a loan early. Personal loans issued by Upgrade's lending partners. Information on Upgrade's lending partners can be found at https://www.upgrade.com/lending-partners/. Accept your loan offer and your funds will be sent to your bank or designated account within one (1) business day of clearing necessary verifications. Availability of the funds is dependent on how quickly your bank processes the transaction. From the time of approval, funds should be available within four (4) business days. Funds sent directly to pay off your creditors may take up to 2 weeks to clear, depending on the creditor.

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FreedomPlus
Check rate

on FreedomPlus's website

FreedomPlus

3.5

NerdWallet rating 
FreedomPlus

Est. APR

7.99-29.99%

Loan Amount

$7,500-$50,000

Min. Credit Score

620
Check rate

on FreedomPlus's website


Min. Credit Score

620

Key facts

FreedomPlus loans can be used for major purchases, including buying or building a tiny home.

Pros

  • Option to choose and change your payment date.

  • Offers direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.

  • Soft credit check with pre-qualification.

  • Joint loan option.

Cons

  • Charges origination fee.

  • High minimum loan amount.

  • No secured or co-signed loan option.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 620; borrower average is 700.

  • Minimum debt-to-income ratio: 45%, excluding mortgage; borrower average is 23%.

  • Minimum income: None; borrowers have an average household income of $120,000.

  • Minimum credit history: three years.

  • Minimum number of accounts on credit history: two.

  • No bankruptcy in the last 24 months.

Available Term Lengths

2 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 1.99% - 4.99%.

  • Late fee: $15 or 5% of amount due, whichever is greater.

  • Unsuccessful payment fee: $15.

Disclaimer

The loan terms presented are not guaranteed and APRs presented are estimates only. To obtain a loan you must submit additional information and documentation and all loans are subject to credit review and our approval process. The range of APRs is 7.99% to 29.99% and your actual APR will depend upon factors including your credit score, usage and history, the requested loan amount, the stated loan purpose, and the term of the requested loan. To qualify for a 7.99% APR loan, a borrower will need excellent credit on a loan for an amount less than $12,000.00, and with a term equal to 24 months. Adding a co-borrower with sufficient income; using at least eighty-five percent (85%) of the loan proceeds to directly pay off qualifying existing debt; or showing proof of sufficient retirement savings, could help you also qualify for the lowest rate available. All loans are made by Cross River Bank and MetaBank®, N.A., Members FDIC.

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Lending Club
Check rate

on LendingClub's website

LendingClub

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
Lending Club

Est. APR

7.04-35.89%

Loan Amount

$1,000-$40,000

Min. Credit Score

600
Check rate

on LendingClub's website


Min. Credit Score

600

Key facts

LendingClub allows borrowers to use funds toward a home purchase or other expenses. It also accepts joint loan applications.

Pros

  • Offers co-signed and joint loan options.

  • Offers direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.

  • Soft credit check with pre-qualification.

Cons

  • Borrowers can only choose from two repayment term options.

  • Rates are high compared to other fair-credit lenders.

  • Charges an origination fee.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score of 600. LendingClub uses FICO 8 credit scoring model.

  • Minimum credit history of three years.

  • Debt-to-income ratio of less than 40% for single applications, 35% combined for joint applicants.

Available Term Lengths

3 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 1% to 6%.

  • Late fee: Greater of $15 or 5% of payment after 15-day grace period.

Disclaimer

A representative example of loan payment terms is as follows: you receive a loan of $13,411 for a term of 36 months, with an interest rate of 12.16% and a 5.30% origination fee of $711, for an APR of 15.99%. In this example, you will receive $12,700 and will make 36 monthly payments of $446.46. Loan amounts range from $1,000 to $40,000 and loan term lengths are 36 months or 60 months. Some amounts and term lengths may be unavailable in certain states. APR ranges from 7.04% to 35.89% and is determined at the time of application. Origination fee ranges from 3% to 6% of the loan amount. Lowest APR is available to borrowers with excellent credit. Advertised rates and fees are valid as of 7/1/21 and are subject to change without notice. Loans are made by LendingClub Bank, N.A., Member FDIC (“LendingClub Bank”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of LendingClub Corporation, NMLS ID 167439. Loans are subject to credit approval and sufficient investor commitment before they can be funded or issued. Certain information that we subsequently obtain as part of the application process (including but not limited to information in your consumer report, your income, the loan amount that your request, the purpose of your loan, and qualifying debt) will be considered and could affect your ability to obtain a loan from us. Loan closing is contingent on accepting all required agreements and disclosures at Lendingclub.com. “LendingClub” is a trademark of LendingClub Bank.

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Personal loans for tiny homes

Online lenders offer personal loans in amounts that can be used to finance all or a portion of a tiny house purchase. Loan repayment terms are shorter than for mortgages and can be up to seven years, which means you may pay off your tiny home faster, but monthly payments can be as high.

Your credit score and income are among the factors that determine if you’ll be approved for a personal loan and the interest rate you receive. Annual percentage rates on personal loans generally range from 6% to 36%; only borrowers with excellent credit (720 and above on the FICO scale) will qualify for rates at the low end of that range.

Personal loans are unsecured and don’t require collateral, so you won’t lose your tiny house or another asset if you can’t repay the loan (although your credit score may take a hit).

Use a personal loan calculator to determine your potential monthly payment and total interest on a tiny house loan.

Personal loans from a bank

Large national banks don’t usually advertise tiny house loans, but you may still be able to get one, especially if you bank local and have a good relationship with your bank.

Bank loans have similar rates to online lenders, but some offer discounts or lower rates to existing customers. Banks tend to weigh your credit more heavily than online lenders, so borrowers with FICO scores above 689 are more likely to qualify for a low rate with a bank.

Personal loans from credit unions

Credit unions can be a good source for an unsecured tiny house loan, and building a relationship with a credit union can increase your chances of approval, says John Kernohan, chairman of the United Tiny House Association.

Credit unions are not-for-profit organizations that serve members who live or work in a particular area. You have to meet the requirements to join and pay a small fee (up to $25) before you can apply for a loan.

Two options are First Tech Federal Credit Union and Navy Federal Credit Union. Both offer unsecured personal loans up to $50,000 that can be used for any purpose, with APRs capped at 18% and repayment terms up to seven years.

Loans through a tiny house builder

Tiny houses may be financed through a lender that partners with a builder. These loans are either unsecured (based primarily on your credit score) or secured by the tiny house, according to Kernohan.

The potential benefits include low starting rates (typically under 10%) and longer loan terms (10 to 20 years or longer) than personal loans.

But this option may require a down payment of up to 20% of the purchase price, and if the loan is secured, you can lose the tiny house if you can’t make payments.

Tiny homes on wheels may qualify for RV loans, but only if the vehicle is certified as an RV by the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association.

Home equity loans

Home equity loans and lines of credit are available if you own a home and want to add a tiny house to the land as an accessory dwelling unit or buy a mobile tiny home.

The benefits of home equity loans may include low rates and long repayment terms (typically more than 10 years), which allow lower monthly payments. But you’ll need home equity to qualify (determined by an appraisal), and you can lose your primary home if you can’t make payments.

Using home equity to finance the purchase of a tiny house can be risky and works best if the property generates income as a rental, Kernohan says.

“You’re taking equity away from your home, and there’s no guarantee that adding the tiny house to the land will boost its value,” he says.

Tiny house financial risks

The benefits of a tiny house may include lower housing expenses and less upkeep. But factor these costs into your budget:

  • Purchasing land or leasing a lot.

  • Parking fees at campgrounds and fuel if you take your tiny home on the road.

  • RV insurance, construction insurance or homeowner’s insurance, property taxes and permit fees.

  • Propane tanks for a tankless water heater.

  • New appliances that fit the home.

  • Typical housing maintenance and repairs.

Tiny homes also don’t have wide resale appeal, and there are few listed on the multiple listing service used by real estate brokers. If you want to sell at some point, your options may be limited to a niche marketplace, such as Tiny House Listings. Renting your tiny home may be another option if there’s demand in your area.

Last updated on February 24, 2021

Methodology

NerdWallet’s review process evaluates and rates personal loan products from more than 30 lenders. We collect over 45 data points from each lender, interview company representatives and compare the lender with others that seek the same customer or offer a similar personal loan product. NerdWallet writers and editors conduct a full fact check and update annually, but also make updates throughout the year as necessary.

Our star ratings award points to lenders that offer consumer-friendly features, including: soft credit checks to pre-qualify, competitive interest rates and no fees, transparency of rates and terms, flexible payment options, fast funding times, accessible customer service, reporting of payments to credit bureaus and financial education. We also consider regulatory actions filed by agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. We weigh these factors based on our assessment of which are the most important to consumers and how meaningfully they impact consumers’ experiences. 

This methodology applies only to lenders that cap interest rates at 36%, the maximum rate most financial experts and consumer advocates agree is the acceptable limit for a loan to be affordable. NerdWallet does not receive compensation for our star ratings. Read our editorial guidelines.

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Tiny House Financing: Get a Loan for Your Tiny Home