"The benefit of working with a local bank is that consumers can create a personal relationship with Home Loan."
By Rhonda Miller PBN Staff Writer
John Kuprevich is vice president for home-improvement lending for Home Loan Investment Bank, a position he has held since 2011. He was previously senior vice president for home improvement lending for Admirals Bank. His expertise includes developing a network of referral partners, including contractors, real estate professionals, brokers and manufacturers.
He is a member of the American Bankers Association and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.
Kuprevich has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Rhode Island.
PBN: In light of the still-sluggish market for new homes in Rhode Island, has Home Loan Investment Bank seen an increase in loans for home repairs and renovations, since it seems reasonable to assume that people are staying in their homes until the economy improves a bit?
KUPREVICH: While the housing market has improved of late, there are still many homeowners who find themselves in a position where there is limited to no equity in their homes. Because of this, a steady increase in home improvement lending has been realized. It has become a popular trend for homeowners to improve, expand and redesign their living space, as opposed to selling and purchasing a more accommodating home. The recovery of the housing market, along with an improvement in employment and disposable income, has helped fuel the expansion in home improvement finance. Many families who had been delaying repairs to their home due to financial constraints now have the ability and confidence to pursue a loan to help cover the sometimes large expense of home ownership and maintenance.
PBN: Your bank has a specific loan program for home renovations. What program is that and is it available to all banks?
KUPREVICH: Home Loan Investment Bank offers the FHA Title I Home Improvement Loan. The Title I loan is a non-equity based loan designed specifically for home improvements. There are no appraisal requirements or prepayment penalties. A homeowner can obtain up to $25,000 on a single-family home or up to $12,000 per unit for a multi-family property, with a maximum of $60,000. Any financial or lending institution may apply with HUD for approval to be a Title I lender. The criteria for approval is set forth by HUD and with HUD’s approval, an institution would be able to lend within their lending jurisdiction.
PBN: Your bank’s program has both secured and unsecured loans for home renovations. Who secures the loan? What are the differences in the loans? Who is eligible?
KUPREVICH: The Title I loan is available as both a secured and unsecured loan. The determination as to whether it is secured or unsecured is based solely on the loan amount. A loan amount of $7,500 or less is designated as an unsecured loan, while any higher loan amount is secured. The qualifications and underwriting of the loans is exactly the same, regardless of the security interest. The major differences are that the maximum term for the unsecured loan is 10 years, while the secured loan option offers a maximum term of 20 years and the interest rates are priced differently for each of the two options. Any homeowner who meets the ownership, credit and income requirements is eligible for either loan option. The loans are originated, secured and serviced by Home Loan Investment Bank.
PBN: What types of renovations are you seeing people doing when they apply for a home renovation loan?
KUPREVICH: There are many mainstay projects that homeowners typically undertake. These are the normal maintenance and repair projects such as windows, roofing and siding. There has been a large increase over the past few years for several different projects. With many homeowners staying in their homes longer, there has been an influx of kitchen and bathroom renovation projects, as well as basement finishing and waterproofing. Renewable energy solutions such as wind, solar and geothermal systems have also increased in popularity, which is largely due to rebate and incentive programs, in addition to the clean energy benefits these systems offer.
PBN: There’s intense competition in banking in Rhode Island. The slow rebound of the economy means consumers are slow to spend their money. It’s a small state with a limited number of consumers and a large number of banks. What is Home Loan Investment Bank doing to stand out above the crowd, especially for home renovation loans, and to keep your customers and attract new ones?
KUPREVICH: We at Home Loan strive to provide our customers the best service possible with prompt responses and insightful advice, as well as offering our experience and capability from over 40 years of consumer lending, whether it be home improvement loans, mortgages, auto finance, or small business loans. We retain existing customers by offering competitive rates and superior customer service. We genuinely care for our customers and want to save them money every month. In addition to traditional marketing channels like print media, we attract new customers with creative marketing strategies like our blog and e-newsletter, as well as maintaining a presence in social media. We also attend tradeshows to stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends. Our salespeople are active within their communities as coaches and mentors and Home Loan sponsors numerous local youth athletic teams. The benefit of working with a local bank is that consumers can create a personal relationship with Home Loan. A local bank is typically in close proximity to the customer's home, so if there is a need to speak privately, they can meet with a representative at the bank and discuss their concerns with a person who can listen to their needs and design a solution that best suits them. At the end of the day, leveraging the services of a small, local financial institution will tend to boost the chances of approval when compared to larger ones, all the while ensuring the most consistent and customized support throughout the life cycle of the loan.