Help! My House Is Falling Apart and I Can’t Afford to Fix It

Owning a home is a dream for most Americans. However, it also means you can’t rely on a landlord for home repairs.  Sometimes the high cost of home repairs or a recent change in income has us screaming “my house is falling apart and I can’t afford to fix it!”

When home repair costs are breaking your budget, the best solutions include starting a side hustle, taking out a home equity loan, checking with your homeowner’s insurance to see what’s covered, selling the house as-is, or applying for the Section 504 Home Repair Program.

The downside of owning your own home is that homeowners spend an average of $1,204 a month maintaining their homes.

This monthly cost sounds high because it also factors in insurance costs, taxes, and utilities. However, a smart homeowner should be squirreling away one to two percent of their home’s value into savings.

If you’re thinking, “My house is falling apart and I can’t afford to fix it,” this is the right guide for you. Keep reading to learn more about affording home renovation costs.

Borrowing your way out of the poor house isn’t always the answer.

However, your home is usually your greatest asset. So keeping it in good shape, or just fixing it up if it’s in poor shape to sell and make a profit, is almost always worth it. But when in doubt, selling the house as-is is always an option. And you can sell quickly to a cash buyer.

What to do when you can’t afford home repairs?

When you can’t afford major repairs, you either need to get your income up, find simple DIY solutions to your needed repairs, or sell the house if the other options aren’t viable.

Now, of course, if it’s natural disasters or something catastrophic that’s caused either the house to be in poor condition or the drop in income, there are programs you can apply for that will help.

I’ll get into those more in a minute.

But the best option would be to start a side hustle. My side hustle was blogging and YouTubing and now that’s my full-time job, and well into the 6-figures.

A good side hustle is anything you have a little bit of knowledge about or experience in that someone else might be willing to pay for. It could include any of the following:

  • Being a virtual assistant
  • Blogging
  • YouTubing
  • Dog Walking
  • Tutoring
  • Buying closeouts and reselling on Amazon

But there are dozens, if not hundreds, of other ideas! Luckily, I have a recent article that details the top 53 best side hustle ideas you can start today to earn money. And the best part is most of them are low or have no cost to start.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

How do you sell a house that needs repairs?

When you want to sell a house that needs repairs you can’t afford to make, you’ll be selling it as-is.

While you will be discounting the value of your home to attract buyers who want a fixer-upper, you can also maximize the selling price by cleaning, decluttering, and doing as many DIY repairs and decorating as possible. Selling it as-is will definitely be better than doing a short sale.

But start by finding a good real estate agent.

One of the next steps will be filling out a Seller’s Disclosure form, so don’t be tempted to lie or try and cover up the damage. You could get sued down the road if it came out you knew of damage and intentionally didn’t disclose it.

However, you can still do some or all of the following to maximize the curb appeal of your house:

  • Paint the front door red
  • Trim the lawn, bushes, plants, and trees in the front yard
  • Declutter the house (garage sale or get a storage unit)
  • Clean the house thoroughly
  • Make sure every light fixture has working bulbs
  • Clean the glass in your windows and leave blinds open to let natural light in

Of course, you’ll almost always get more money for a house that doesn’t need any major work done to it.

How can I get money to fix up my house?

You can get money to fix up your house in the form of a home equity loan from your bank. But you should also check with your homeowner’s insurance agent to see if some or all of the damage is covered under your insurance policy.

If you have had any level of hail recently, your homeowner’s insurance company may be able to get you a new roof! Talk to your agent to see what your policy covers.

Also, as I mentioned, a personal loan is an easy way to get a small amount of cash to fix up your home.

If you don’t see your income changing then use that loan to fix up your house and sell it. Then move to an apartment or rental home while you get back on your feet.

Even if the damage is covered under your homeowner’s insurance, most of us have a high deductible on our insurance. So in that case, the loan can come in handy to offset the deductible.

How do I apply for the Section 504 Home Repair Program?

To apply and be accepted for the Section 504 home repair program, you must live in the house, have a family income below 50% of the average for your area, and be unable to obtain credit from other sources due to a low credit score. They offer both loans, as well as grants to those senior citizens age 62 or older.

There are many government programs to help ease the cost of repairs.

These include the FHA 203(k) loan program, the Limited 203(k) loan program, the Title I Property Improvement loan program, and the Section 504 Home repair program.

These programs have specific criteria and primarily serve impoverished or rural communities. Here are the specific steps to apply for and determine eligibility for the program:

1. Check your address

Your home may not be eligible, so check the address in this government database to see if you’re eligible –

2. Getting a loan?

If you’re applying for a home repair loan, it can be used to “repair, improve or modernize homes or remove health and safety hazards”.

Also, I mentioned your income must be below 50% of the average for your area. Take a look at this government map to see how your income fares compared to the averages in your area –

3. Applying for a grant?

Unlike a loan, grants are basically free money you don’t have to pay back. However, in addition to being 62 or older, you can only use grant money “to remove health and safety hazards”.

The maximum grant is $7,500 although loans & grants can be combined for up to $27,500 in assistance. And grants must be repaid if the property is sold in less than 3 years. So don’t think you can get free money, fix it up, and then sell it.

4. What are the loan details?

  • The maximum loan is $20,000
  • Loans can be repaid over 20 years
  • The loan interest rate is fixed at 1%
  • Full title service is required for loans of $7,500 or more
  • If applicants can repay part, but not all of the costs, applicants may be offered a loan and grant combination

5. How do I apply?

You’ll apply at the state office of the US Department of Agriculture Rural Development Department.

Here are the forms you’ll need to fill out:

To find the local Rural Development office nearest you, refer to this map –

Here are some other good options to look at when you need to fix up your house but don’t have the cash:

A Home Equity Line of Credit

If you have enough equity in your home, you likely won’t qualify for the loan programs above. Instead, you can consider taking out an equity-backed line of credit. You’ll need to consider programs from different financial institutions.

An Insurance Claim

Don’t forget to check your insurance policy for home repair coverage. You . may be able to make an insurance claim that can help cover your costs. This is especially likely if your home was damaged in a storm.

A Disaster Organization

If your home repairs aren’t completely covered by your insurance after a natural disaster, you can look to other organizations for help.

Organizations like the Federal Emergency Management Agency or the Red Cross can offer emergency funds to make your home livable again.

Using Credit Cards

One of the last resorts for home repairs is using a credit card.

If your project is small and you have a good credit card rate, it might be a reasonable solution. However, if your project is expensive and your rate is high, you may soon find yourself buried in debt.

You may also need more money than your credit limit allows. And you may end up borrowing that money at a high interest rate.

Concluding thoughts

If you’re stressed and your house is in desperate need of repairs, remember to just take your home renovation one day at a time.

Also, remember not to be too hard on yourself. Emergency home repairs can happen to everyone, and it is a valuable learning experience. You can take what you learn and apply it to the future.

For more helpful home tips, don’t forget to bookmark our page.

Jeff Campbell

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