Big home improvement projects often cost big bucks, prompting many home owners to take out a home equity loan or seek some sort of financing. It often makes more sense to use home equity rather than cash for home improvements, but be careful. Unscrupulous contractors and lenders may try to take advantage of you, leaving you with a heavy debt load and sometimes incomplete work.
A contractor calls or knocks on your door and offers to install a new roof or remodel your kitchen at a price that sounds reasonable. You tell him you're interested, but can't afford it. He tells you it's no problem -- he can arrange financing through a lender he knows. You agree to the project, and the contractor begins work. At some point after the contractor begins, you are asked to sign a lot of papers. The papers may be blank or the lender may rush you to sign before you have time to read what you've been given to sign. You sign the papers.
Later, you realize that the papers you signed are a home equity loan. The interest rate, points and fees seem very high. To make matters worse, the work on your home isn't done right or hasn't been completed, and the contractor, who may have been paid by the lender, has little interest in completing the work to your satisfaction.
You can protect yourself from inappropriate lending practices by keeping an eye out for red flags and approaching exceptionally good deals with skepticism.
Consider speaking with a real estate attorney if you have additional questions or believe you were the victim of a home improvement loan scam.