Goldman teams up with a real estate start-up in push to make more home improvement loans

  • Goldman is rolling out a new tool that helps potential borrowers estimate how much an addition to a home — for instance, a new bathroom or a pool — will affect the value of the property.
  • The move is Goldman's latest step into the world of retail finance, where it hopes to take an increasing share of personal loans, deposits and other products.
A home improvement contractor works on a house in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Suzanne Kreiter | The Boston Globe | Getty Images
A home improvement contractor works on a house in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Goldman Sachs is taking one more step into the world of ordinary consumers.

The bank is rolling out a new tool that helps potential borrowers estimate how much an addition to a home — for instance, a new bathroom or a pool — will affect the value of the property. The online calculator, created with San Francisco-based start-up HouseCanary, is part of a home improvement loan portal that Goldman introduced earlier this year.

"When customers look to invest in their most valuable assets, their homes, one of the first questions is 'How is this addition or improvement going to impact my home value?'" said Abhinav Anand, head of consumer loans at Goldman's Marcus business. "The home addition calculator should help them prioritize and make confident decisions, to think of home renovation as an investment with a return, and not just an additional expense."

Goldman Sachs is in the midst of a transformation.The storied Wall Street firm known for advising the powerful and wealthy is now positioning itself as an advocate for the ordinary, debt-strapped consumer. Under the Marcus brand, Goldman currently offers deposits and personal loans through its online portal. The bank will eventually offer a full suite of financial products, from wealth management to mortgages and life insurance.

The bank has extended more than $4 billion in personal loans so far, and home improvement loans are the second biggest category after debt consolidation, according to Anand.

For now, the Goldman tool works for home additions including bedrooms, bathrooms, pools and square footage. Future updates will include the ability to estimate the effect of exterior changes like a new roof, energy efficiency upgrades and interior renovations, Anand said.

HouseCanary, founded in 2013, uses machine learning and more than 200 data sets to create models that can produce estimates within 3 percent of actual prices for the majority of homes, according to Josh Seiff, executive vice president of strategy and business development at the firm.