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LendingTree Reveals the Cities Using the Most Home Improvement Loans

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New LendingTree study ranks cities by home improvement loan originations.

Today’s housing market is characterized by a lack of inventory for both new and existing homes. In the existing market, there is a shortage of current owners willing to sell, in part because it can prove challenging to find another house to buy while you sell or once you sell your home. In lieu of moving, many homeowners choose to improve their current homes and, for larger projects, homeowners may take out a loan to finance the renovation.

To find out where homeowners are taking out home improvement loans the most, we took a look at Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data for 2017, which covers 7.3 million loans. We ranked the 50 largest U.S. cities by the volume of home improvement loans as a percentage of the total housing units in a city. We also look at the median loan amounts to gauge where buyers are putting the most money into their homes. Home improvement loans are typically home equity loans (though not home equity lines of credit) but could also be unsecured personal loans for home improvement.

Key findings

  • Home improvement loans were taken out on a small fraction — less than 1% — of homes in 2017. This may seem low, but it doesn’t necessarily mean folks aren’t updating their homes. Many home improvements are financed by savings, other types of credit and other types of mortgage loans such as cash-out refinances and HELOCs. As a point of reference, existing home sales were just 4% of the housing stock in 2017.
  • The locations of cities with high rates of home improvement are quite diverse and they did not have many characteristics in common. This suggests localized factors account for renovation activity.
  • Oklahoma City has the highest rate of using home improvement loans, with 0.77% of homes having a loan originated in 2017, over three times the rate of bottom-ranked New York and Miami. The city has been growing rapidly and is one of the most spread out cities in the country, meaning homeowners have lots of room to work with.
  • San Jose is second. Noted for its high prices and tight inventory, homeowners flush with equity may be adding all the latest bells and whistles to their homes in this tech industry-dominated city.
  • New York has the lowest rate of using home improvement loans. The cities at the bottom of our ranking are also very geographically diverse, with New York bringing up the anchor. A low share of single-family homes may be due to the fact that many New Yorkers live in multi-family homes and cannot carry out extensive home renovations.
  • Miami and Houston are the other cities in the bottom three. These cities were both severely affected by hurricanes in late 2017 which might have suppressed renovation activity. Continued recovery from hurricane damage in 2018, however, may boost home improvement activity.
  • San Jose, San Francisco and Los Angeles have the biggest renovation loans. The highest median loan size was in San Jose at $374,000, followed by San Francisco and Los Angeles. Rankings of median loan size are largely in line with home values.
  • The smallest loans were in Memphis, Tenn., at $10,000, then Oklahoma City and Virginia Beach.


Cities with highest rate of home improvement loans

#1 Oklahoma City
Rate of home improvement loans: 0.77%
Median loan amount: $15,000
Median borrower income: $64,000

#2 San Jose, Calif.
Rate of home improvement loans: 0.75%
Median loan amount: $374,000
Median borrower income: $144,000

#3 Salt Lake City
Rate of home improvement loans: 0.72%
Median loan amount: $130,000
Median borrower income: $77,000

Cities with the lowest rate of home improvement loans

#48 Houston
Rate of home improvement loans: 0.27%
Median loan amount: $47,000
Median borrower income: $87,000

#49 Miami
Rate of home improvement loans: 0.22%
Median loan amount: $50,000
Median borrower income: $72,000

#50 New York
Rate of home improvement loans: 0.18%
Median loan amount: $60,000
Median borrower income: $99,000

Top 50 cities ranked by rate of home improvement loans

RankCityHome Improvement Loans as a Share of Housing UnitsMedian Loan AmountMedian Income
1Oklahoma City 0.77%$15,000$64,000
2San Jose, Calif.0.75%$374,000 $144,000
3Salt Lake City0.72%$130,000$77,000
4Pittsburgh0.70%$28,000 $69,000
5Boston0.65%$70,000 $104,000
6Portland, Ore. 0.64%$199,000 $83,000
7Denver0.60%$184,000 $81,000
8Minneapolis0.59% $60,000$86,000
9Virginia Beach, Va.0.56% $16,000 $67,000
10 Sacramento, Calif. 0.55% $173,000$89,000
12Riverside, Calif.0.53%$135,000 $80,000
13 Seattle0.48%$212,000$97,000
15Nashville, Tenn.0.46%$66,000$65,000
16Providence, R.I. 0.46%$36,000$80,000
18San Diego0.45%$250,000 $99,000
19Philadelphia 0.44%$30,000$75,000
20 Austin, Texas 0.41%$79,000 $94,000
21 Cincinnati 0.40%$35,000$70,000
22St.Louis 0.40%$45,000$73,000
23Los Angeles0.39%$263,000 $96,000
24Buffalo, N.Y. 0.39%$20,000 $59,000
25Kansas City, Mo.0.39%$60,000 $74,000
26 Richmond, Va.0.39%$25,000$63,000
27 Phoenix0.38%$85,000$80,000
28 Columbus, Ohio0.38%$45,000 $71,000
29 Atlanta0.38%$35,000 $73,000
30Hartford, Conn.0.38%$35,000 $89,000
32Dallas0.37%$55,000 $92,000
33Louisville, Ky.0.37%$37,000 $60,000
34Las Vegas0.36%$100,000 $70,000
35Jacksonville, Fla.0.35% $30,000$71,000
36Tampa, Fla.0.35%$25,000$60,000
39Raleigh, N.C.0.33%$50,000 $78,000
40Orlando, Fla. 0.33%$31,000$63,000
41Charlotte, N.C.0.31%$50,000 $69,000
42Memphis, Tenn.0.30%$10,000$52,000
43Birmingham, Ala.0.30%$25,000 $57,000
44San Antonio0.29%$37,000$71,000
45New Orleans0.28%$40,000$65,000
46Chicago0.28%$50,000 $78,000
47San Francisco0.28%$291,000 $117,000
49Miami0.22%$50,000 $72,000
50New York0.18%$60,000 $99,000

Top 50 cities ranked by median loan amount

RankCityHome Improvement Loans as a Share of Housing UnitsMedian Loan AmountMedian Income
1 San Jose, Calif. 0.75%$374,000$144,000
2San Francisco0.28%$291,000$117,000
3Los Angeles0.39%$263,000 $96,000
4San Diego0.45%$250,000$99,000
6Portland, Ore. 0.64%$199,000 $83,000
8Sacramento, Calif.0.55%$173,000$89,000
9Riverside, Calif. 0.53% $135,000$80,000
10Salt Lake City 0.72%$130,000 $77,000
11Las Vegas0.36%$100,000$70,000
12Phoenix0.38%$85,000 $80,000
13Austin, Texas 0.41%$79,000$94,000
15Nashville, Tenn.0.46%$66,000 $65,000
16Minneapolis0.59%$60,000 $86,000
17Kansas City, Mo.0.39%$60,000 $74,000
18New York0.18%$60,000 $99,000
20Raleigh, N.C. 0.33%$50,000$78,000
21Charlotte, N.C.0.31%$50,000 $69,000
23Miami0.22%$50,000 $72,000
24Houston0.27%$47,000 $87,000
26Columbus, Ohio0.38%$45,000 $71,000
27Washington0.54%$40,000 $95,000
28New Orleans 0.28%$40,000$65,000
30Louisville, Ky. 0.37%$37,000$60,000
31San Antonio0.29%$37,000 $71,000
32Providence, R.I. 0.46%$36,000$80,000
34Atlanta0.38% $35,000$73,000
35Hartford, Conn.0.38% $35,000$89,000
36Orlando, Fla. 0.33% $31,000$63,000
37Philadelphia0.44% $30,000 $75,000
38Jacksonville, Fla.0.35%$30,000 $71,000
40Pittsburgh0.70%$28,000 $69,000
43Richmond, Va. 0.39%$25,000$63,000
44Tampa, Fla. 0.35%$25,000$60,000
46 Birmingham, Ala.0.30%$25,000$57,000
47Buffalo, N.Y. 0.39%$20,000$59,000
48Virginia Beach, Va.0.56%$16,000 $67,000
49Oklahoma City0.77%$15,000 $64,000
50Memphis, Tenn.0.30%$10,000 $52,000


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