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Helpful answers to frequently asked questions.

Renovate America offers two consumer financing options for home improvements: HERO Financing and Benji Financing.

How you pre-qualify: HERO financing approval is primarily based on your home’s equity and debt payment obligations. Only homes in PACE-approved municipalities may use HERO financing. Benji is primarily based on your credit score. 

Which home improvements are eligible: Nearly every type of home improvement project can be financed using Benji, and only energy-efficient projects qualify for HERO Program.

How you pay back the financing: HERO is secured by your home and allows you to repay through your property taxes. Benji financing is paid back in traditional monthly payments. 

HERO is currently available in California and Missouri. Benji is currently available in California, Missouri, Kansas and Florida. We are expanding to cover more communities.

Apply for Benji through a contractor who is part of the Renovate America network. Applications are accepted through the online application, mobile application or with the assistance of a Benji customer service representative. Contact a representative at 844-GO-BENJI.

Learn More About Benji

If you live in a city or county where HERO has been approved by the local government, you can apply for HERO financing.

Learn More About HERO

About HERO

What does "HERO" stand for?
HERO stands for Home Energy Renovation Opportunity.
What is the HERO Program?

The HERO Program from Renovate America provides homeowners access to financing for energy-efficient, water-conserving, renewable energy and hurricane protection home improvements. Types of products that are eligible for HERO vary by state, depending on local legislation.

How is HERO different from other forms of financing?

The HERO Program is different from other forms of financing because:

  • It is designed specifically for home improvements that provide energy efficiency, water-conservation, renewable energy and hurricane protection.
  • It is repaid through your property taxes.
  • The interest on these payments may be tax deductible*.
  • Approval for HERO financing is primarily based on the equity in the homeowner's home and their debt payment history, rather than their credit score.

*You should consult your tax advisor regarding potential tax benefits.

How is HERO financing paid through my property taxes?
You will see an item listed on your property tax bill titled “HERO FINANCING”. The payment will be due in accordance with your property taxes, which is specific to the state or region where you live. 
What if I pay my property taxes through an impound escrow account?

If you make property tax payments through an impound escrow account, your mortgage servicer will increase your monthly payment to include the amount due for HERO financing. Your mortgage servicer may make your first annual payment on your behalf, which you’ll need to pay back. In this case, the first and second annual payments will be divided into monthly installments added to your mortgage payment, so your first year of monthly payments may be double what you were expecting. This is temporary and should adjust back to normal once you’ve paid back your mortgage servicer. If you have any questions or for more information, give us a call Monday – Friday, 8am to 5pm PST at 855-225-HERO (855-225-4376).

Can anyone apply for HERO?

If you live in a city or county where HERO has been approved by the local government, you can apply for HERO financing.

Are all contractors qualified to install products financed through HERO?

No, only contractors registered with Renovate America and in good standing with the HERO Program can install products financed through HERO. Each state has different qualification requirements in order to register for HERO. Contractors can determine applicable eligibility requirements at our contractors page. Find a registered Renovate America contractor on our website.

Am I required to get an energy audit for my property?

While a residential or commercial energy/water audit is not required to participate in the HERO Program, it is recommended in certain cases, particularly if you are looking to do whole-property improvements to maximize your energy and water-cost savings. An energy audit by a certified auditor may be the best way to determine which eligible products are best suited for your property. In addition, the cost of the audit is eligible for financing through HERO, along with the eligible products themselves.

Do I need to obtain a building permit?
If your city or county has building permit requirements, both you and your contractor are responsible for obtaining all necessary permits and completing inspections, including final inspection sign-off from the appropriate city or county building department. You should speak with your contractor for further information.
Can HERO be used to finance more than one project?

Yes, you can finance multiple projects. However, all projects must be approved in order to make sure they meet efficiency standards.

Can I view a sample of HERO Financing Documents in Spanish?

Yes, you can visit our sample documents page. Then, enter your ZIP code to find the Spanish language version of our sample financing documents for your area.

What happens if a property is sold?

See our frequently asked questions about selling and refinancing.

About Benji

What is Benji?

Benji is a home improvement financing option from Renovate America. You can use it to finance nearly any home upgrade. It’s only offered to homeowners by contractors who are part of the Renovate America network.

What is the difference between Benji and HERO?

How you pre-qualify: HERO financing approval is primarily based on your home’s equity and debt payment obligations. Only homes in PACE-approved municipalities may use HERO financing. Benji is primarily based on your credit score. 

Which home improvements are eligible: Nearly every type of home improvement project can be financed using Benji, and only energy-efficient projects qualify for HERO Program.

How you pay back the financing: HERO is secured by your home and allows you to repay through your property taxes. Benji financing is paid back in traditional monthly payments. 

How do I apply for Benji financing?
Apply for Benji through a contractor who is part of the Renovate America network. Applications are accepted through the online application, mobile application or with the assistance of a Benji customer service representative. Contact a representative at 844-GO-BENJI.
Are all contractors qualified to install products financed through Benji?
No, only contractors registered and in good standing with Renovate America can install products financed through Benji. Each state has different qualification requirements in order to register with Renovate America. Contractors can determine applicable eligibility requirements on our contractor page.

HERO Program Interest Rates & Costs

Are there application fees for HERO?

No, there are no application fees for HERO.

What interest rates does HERO offer?
Our interest rates currently range from 6.75% to 8.35%. Interest rates are dependent on the financing term. The interest may be tax deductible. Consult a tax advisor regarding the deductibility of interest.
What financing terms does HERO offer?

Renovate America works with contractors registered with the HERO Program to offer flexible terms of 5-25 years, depending on the useful life of the improvements and the state in which they are financed.

Since HERO is part of my property assessment, is it tax-deductible?

The interest on HERO payments may be tax deductible. You should consult a tax advisor regarding potential tax benefits. The IRS has offered specific guidance on Topic 503.

Can rebates or tax credits be used with HERO financing?
Yes, homeowners can still receive any rebate or tax credit that is offered by their local utility, city, county or the federal government. The HERO Program does not affect the rebate process in any way.

Benji Financing Interest Rates & Costs

Are there application fees for Benji?

No, there are no application fees for Benji.

When is my first Benji payment due?
Your first Benji payment will be due 30 days after your project is complete, unless you have chosen the Special Financing plan.
What is Benji Special Financing?
Benji Special Financing plans do not require any payments for a pre-designated promotional period. If the balance is paid in full before the end of the Special Financing promotional period, all interest will be waived. If the promotional period expires and the balance is not paid in full, the remaining balance, including any accrued interest, will be repaid in monthly payments over the remainder of the term.
How will I know my financing amount, APR and payment information?
Your retail installment contract provides this information. After approval, Benji will email your retail installment contract to you. Your retail installment contract contains all information about your financing, including your Federal Truth in Lending disclosure. You can call 844-GO-BENJI with any questions you have about your financing or terms of payment.
How can I make a payment on my Benji account?

You can schedule automatic payments or pay in one of these three easy ways:

  1. Online: www.BenjiFinancing.com
  2. Phone: (844) GO-BENJI
  3. Mail a Check: Make checks payable to Home Improvement Financial Solutions.

    Benji
    PO Box 29352
    Phoenix, AZ 85038-9352
Can I schedule an automatic payment for a future date?
Yes, the easiest way to never miss a payment is to sign up for Benji Automatic Payments. You can call or mail in your authorization to have monthly payments automatically deducted from your bank account each month.
Is there a prepayment penalty for Benji financing?
No, Benji does not charge any fees to pay off your balance early.
Is there a late payment fee for Benji financing?

Yes, your retail installment contract provides information about the specific fees applicable to your financing.

Applying & Eligibility

Who can apply for HERO?

Any homeowner who lives in a city or county where HERO has been approved by the local government can apply for HERO financing. To find out if HERO is available in your community, check our communities list.

Who can apply for Benji?

Any homeowner who lives in a community where Benji is offered, and is interested in obtaining financing for a home improvement.

How does financing through HERO work?

First, you apply to find out how much HERO financing your home may be approved for.

Next, you choose your project and find the right contractors based on your needs and location.

Once you've selected your contractor and work with them to select products for your project, you'll review your HERO financing terms and sign your financing documents, so your project can begin.

After your project is completed to your satisfaction, your contractor gets paid.Then, you'll pay back the financing through a voluntary property tax assessment on your property tax bill.

What are the eligibility criteria for HERO?

Specific eligibility requirements for residential properties include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Applicant(s) must be the owner(s) of record for the property.
  2. Mortgage-related debt on the Property must not exceed 90% of the value of the Property.
  3. Homeowner(s) must be current on their property taxes and there must be no more than one late payment in the past three years.
  4. Homeowners must be current on all property debt of the subject property at the time of application and cannot have had more than one 30-day mortgage late payment over the previous 12 months.
  5. Homeowner(s) must not have any declared bankruptcies within the past two years, and the property must not be an asset in any bankruptcy proceeding.
  6. The home must not have any federal or state income tax liens, judgment liens, mechanic’s liens, or similar involuntary liens in excess of $1,000 in most localities.
  7. Some criteria can vary state to state or city to city. For a full list of your eligibility requirements, give us a call at 855-HERO-411 (855-437-6411).
Can a mobile home/manufactured home qualify for Benji?

Mobile or manufactured homes are eligible for Benji if the mobile home is either permanently attached to land or if the home is part of a mobile home community.

If I owe more on my house than its market value, am I still eligible for HERO?

No, total mortgage debt on the home cannot exceed 90% of the current value of the home.

Can a mobile home/manufactured home qualify for HERO?

Mobile or manufactured homes are eligible if they are permanently attached to the real property and pay real property taxes (not DMV fees). The owner of the mobile home must also be the owner of the underlying land. Since the fair market value is often not available for mobile or manufactured homes, the tax assessed value or recent appraisal value may need to be used for the debt-to-value and eligible product costs calculations.

Does a condominium qualify for HERO?

Condominiums may be eligible, depending on the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs) of the complex as well as the physical design of the unit. Condominium owners who apply for financing through HERO may need to obtain written authorization from condominium management stating that the homeowner is allowed to install the proposed eligible products.

Can a property placed in a trust qualify for HERO?

Yes, trust properties are eligible for HERO financing as long as adequate documentation of the trust is provided with the application, as well as the applicants' authority under the trust. All trustees must sign all HERO Program documents.

What’s required for a contractor to register with Renovate America?

To register with Renovate America, contractors must provide the following information:

  1. Valid IRS W-9.
  2. Proof of insurance documentation, including, but not limited to, meeting all general liability, bonding and workers compensation insurance requirements for the state’s contractor licensing board or local equivalent (limits may vary by state).
  3. Valid/active contractor’s license when a statewide licensing board is present. In the absence of a statewide licensing board, the contractor must provide valid business and/or trade license(s) for the cities and counties the contractor does business in, if required.
  4. Company address, Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN), and tax classification (such as sole proprietor, LLC, etc.). This information must match what is on the W-9, insurance documents, contractor license and/or business licenses.
  5. Signed Renovate America Registered Contractor Participation Agreement
  6. Successful identification verification or uploaded government-issued identification such as a license, passport, etc.

Additional contractor requirements may vary by state or region. Renovate America will conduct a due diligence review of the items provided and inform the contractor of approval or next steps.

After registering with us, all contractors and all individuals who perform services for registered contractors in connection with Renovate America’s financing products must do the following:

  1. Adhere to our Code of Conduct, which is designed to support and guide you as you work with us,
  2. Comply with our contractor Terms and Conditions,
  3. Act responsibly and professionally when offering financing to interested homeowners,
  4. Complete a training course on some of our most important compliance expectations.

Selling, Buying, or Refinancing a HERO-Improved Home

How do I contact HERO if I have questions about buying, selling or refinancing a HERO-improved home?

You can reach one of our HERO Property Advisors Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m to 5:00 p.m. PST at (855) 225-HERO (855-225-4376).

Can I sell or refinance my home if it has a HERO assessment?

Yes, homes with HERO assessments can be sold or refinanced at any point, and unlike many other forms of financing, the assessment may be able to remain on the home, in which case the buyer would assume the remaining assessment payments.

How do I sell or refinance my home if it has a HERO assessment?
You should contact our HERO Property Advisors as soon as possible for guidance on your options when selling or refinancing a home. The FHA and VA have issued clear guidance in support of PACE assessments remaining on the property when a home is sold and a FHA- or VA-secured mortgage is used by the purchaser. Subordination of the HERO assessment, if required by a lender, may also be available. Our HERO Property Advisors are available at 855-225-HERO (855-225-4376) or by visiting hpa.heroprogram.com.
Does a HERO assessment affect the buying or selling process?

Yes, listing agents should disclose that there is an additional assessment on the property tax bill and may want to mention energy and/or water-saving benefits as a result of the improvement. Responsibility for any remaining balance may be able to transfer to the buyer when they sell their home, since the improvement stays with the home. The buyer’s lender may require the balance to be fully or partially paid off, based on what kind of mortgage the buyer is using and/or to help with the buyer’s debt-to-income ratio. If the prospective buyer’s lender requires subordination of the HERO assessment in order for the assessment to remain on the home, we are available to help with this process. For additional information, we recommend calling our HERO Property Advisors 855-225-HERO (855-225-4376) or visiting hpa.heroprogram.com.

What additional or specific paperwork should be considered when buying or selling a home with a HERO assessment?

There is typically no additional or specific paperwork required when buying or selling a home with a HERO assessment*. If the buyer of the HERO-improved home is using an FHA- or VA-backed mortgage, HERO can help inform all parties of the possibility that the responsibility for paying the assessment may transfer to the new buyer.

If the HERO project included a solar lease, paperwork transferring ownership of the solar equipment may be required by the solar leasing company. Contact the leasing company for this paperwork.

If the buyer's lender is requesting the HERO assessment to be subordinated under the first mortgage at time of sale, call us at (855) 225-HERO (855-225-4376) for subordination instructions to initiate the process. You can also visit hpa.heroprogram.com.

*The Preliminary Title Report should disclose the HERO assessment.

How can payments on the HERO assessment become the responsibility of a new owner upon sale?

The potential buyer of a home with a HERO assessment does not need to qualify or reapply for HERO financing. Responsibility for payment of the remaining balance on a HERO tax assessment may be able to be transferred to new owners. It does so with the sale of the property via the escrow process. Subordination of the HERO assessment, if required by the lender to transfer the obligation, is also available.

If a homeowner wants to transfer the responsibility of the remaining HERO balance to a buyer, what do they need to know?

They need to ensure their listing agent properly discloses the assessment on the Preliminary Title Report, and provide the buyer’s lender that information. If a buyer’s lender objects to the first lien position of the property tax assessment, HERO may offer a subordination contract. However, if the buyer is using an FHA- or VA-insured mortgage, the lender may need guidance from our HERO Property Advisors to assist with the transfer. Reach out to our HERO Property Advisors by calling 855-225-HERO (855-225-4376).

Is there a prepayment penalty for the HERO assessment?

No, homeowners are free to pay off the HERO assessment at any point in an amount of at least $2,500.

If a buyer’s lender objects to the HERO assessment’s senior lien position (as a property tax), do you offer subordination?

Yes, in many cases, we are able to offer subordination of the HERO assessment, which increases the likelihood the assessment remains with the home, in which case the buyer would assume the remaining assessment payments. With an FHA- or VA-insured mortgage, subordination is usually not necessary. For more information, give our HERO Property Advisors a call at (855) 225-HERO (855-225-4376).

As a real estate agent, what do I need to know about listing or selling a HERO-improved home?

To help real estate professionals to successfully close a HERO home transaction, we host workshops that provide official knowledge about the HERO Program, including the recent support of PACE and guidance from the FHA and VA regarding PACE assessments. These free workshops are designed to answer all your questions about HERO, particularly ones that come up during a property transaction.

In addition, our team of specialists provide individual agent support throughout the entire transaction process. Reach our team of real estate professionals, HERO Property Advisors, at (855) 225-HERO (855-225-4376) or visit us online at hpa.heroprogram.com.

Questions about selling or refinancing?

Call the HERO Property Advisors at (855) 225-HERO (855-225-4376)

Eligible Upgrades with PACE Financing from the HERO Program

What improvements can be funded through the HERO Program?

There are more than 60 types of products that qualify for financing through HERO. Most improvements that help conserve energy or generate renewable energy qualify, including:

  • Central heating and air conditioning, including duct replacement
  • Cool roofs
  • Doors and windows
  • Solar panels

Water-efficient and drought-resistant products are available in some states, such as California.  Home improvements that help conserve water include:

  • Drought-tolerant landscaping
  • Artificial turf
  • High-efficiency toilets and fixtures

Hurricane protection upgrades are eligible in Florida.

Explore our list of eligible products for more information. Homeowners or contractors who wish to install a product that is not on the list may contact us at 855-HERO-411 (855-437-6411) for a review.

Can I finance eligible products that are already installed?

No, products that have already been installed are not eligible for financing through HERO.

Who may install products financed through HERO?

Only contractors that have registered with Renovate America's HERO Program. In California, a homeowner who has signed a Self-Install Agreement, may install products financed through HERO. Contractors must adhere to all licensing requirements in their state or locality. Contractors located in California must have a valid California State Business License (CSLB) to register.

Can homeowners install their own eligible products?

Yes, in California. However, the homeowner will not be paid for their own labor and must sign a Self-Install Agreement. If the homeowner is also a contractor who has registered with Renovate America’s HERO Program and is installing products on his or her own house, they may be reimbursed for the labor costs of their work crew, but not for their own personal time and labor.

Eligible Upgrades with Benji Financing

What improvements can be funded using Benji financing?

Any home improvement is eligible as long as it is permanently affixed to the home.

Who may install products financed using Benji financing?

Only contractors that have registered with Renovate America and are in good standing may provide Benji financing. Contractors must adhere to all state and local licensing requirements. Homeowners may not install their own Benji-financed products.

Solar Leasing with the HERO Program

Does Renovate America offer solar leasing or power purchase agreement (PPA) financing?

Yes, as part of Renovate America’s HERO Program, partners can provide 100% financing for the lease/PPA of eligible solar energy systems.

How does solar leasing work?

Renovate America works with contractors registered with the HERO Program to provide a new way for homeowners to finance the lease of a solar system, that may better meet their financial needs. HERO financing for a solar lease is repaid through a voluntary property tax assessment on the property tax bill. How billing is received will depend on the state in which the property is located. Flexible terms of up to 25 years are available, depending on the useful life of the improvements chosen and the state in which they are applied. The HERO financing term cannot exceed the length of the solar agreement. To find out more, contact 855-HERO-411 (855-437-6411).

Can I sell or refinance my property with solar lease financing?

Yes, HERO-improved homes can be sold or refinanced at any point. Remaining HERO assessment balances may be paid off or the remaining assessment payments may be assumed by the new owner. Homeowners should be aware that lending criteria can vary between lenders. Some lenders and/or buyers require the outstanding assessment balance to be paid off when a homeowner refinances or sells a property. The selling and refinancing process has recently been streamlined for HERO homeowners, buyers, and real estate professionals with the assistance of our in-house group of dedicated real estate professionals, HERO Property Advisors. They are available at 855-HERO-411 (855-437-6411) for assistance at any point in the transaction.

Is there a prepayment penalty for HERO financing when used with a solar lease?

No, a complete payoff of the HERO assessment requires paying off the remaining principal amount and any associated interest with no prepayment penalty. Please refer to the lease for details on any remaining lease obligations. A homeowner may have a remaining lease obligation that they would be required to pay at close of escrow. Contact our HERO Property Advisors at 855-225-HERO (855-225-4376) for assistance with a prepayment schedule for your HERO financing.

How do I get a solar lease financed by HERO?

Call HERO at (855) HERO-411 (855-437-6411) to identify a solar lease partner near you.

What products are available for solar lease financing through HERO?

Only solar products are available.

Can a homeowner install their own eligible products under a solar lease?

No, homeowners are not able to install the system. The solar lease company will direct the installation of the system by one of their participating contractors in order to ensure the function and production of the system as required by the lease.

Need more help? Call (855) HERO-411.