How To Get A Home Equity Loan

Collectively, Americans have $ 21.5 trillion worth of shares in their homes, according to the US Federal Reserve. About $ 6.5 trillion of that – or more than $ 120,000 per mortgage holder – could be used for cash, according to the mortgage data provider black Knight.

Home equity – how much money you have in your home, calculated by deducting what you still owe your mortgage on the amount for which the house could sell – is a major source of wealth in this country. Of course, homeowners can access their equity by selling, but people who do not want to move can use part of their equity with a loan or credit line. With a home equity loan, borrowers receive the entire amount as a lump sum, while a home equity line of credit is a group of funds that can be raised whenever needed.

Interest rates on mortgages or credit lines are lower than those on credit cards or personal loans, although they are higher than the first mortgages. Homeowners often use these loans to pay for home improvement projects or to cover large expenses such as college, but they can be dangerous and difficult to qualify for – especially in a difficult economy. Before taking out one of these loans, borrowers should also consider closing costs, such as creation fees and appraisal fees, which generally amount to between 2% and 5% of the loan value.

Here we explore the differences between loans and mortgage lines and help you understand if utilizing your equity is right for you.

What is a home equity loan?

A home equity loan, sometimes called a second mortgage, works much like a first mortgage. The loan is for a fixed amount of money, which is paid in a lump sum and is secured by your home. You will have a fixed interest rate and repay the loan with prepaid monthly payments for a period of five to 30 years.

In normal times, lenders allow borrowing up to 85% of the market value of the home. During the coronavirus pandemic the threshold was reduced to 80% or sometimes less. This means that the amount of your loan plus the balance of your mortgage can not be more than 80% of the market value. So if your home is valued at $ 200,000 and your remaining mortgage is $ 100,000, you could borrow up to $ 60,000. (The exact amount you can borrow will also depend on your income, credit score and the value of your home.)

Since mortgages are paid in advance, they are useful for large one-off expenses – ideally when you know exactly how much money you need. Some home salespeople use equity loans to put money into a new home as they wait to close with the sale of their current home, although this is risky.

What is a home equity credit line?

Instead of a loan for a fixed amount, a equity line of credit – commonly referred to by the acronym HELOC – is a revolving credit line. It’s similar to a credit card, but your home is the guarantee.

A HELOC has a credit limit. You can borrow up to this amount by writing a check or using a credit card linked to the account. The balance in a HELOC increases as you use the line to make purchases and your available credit is replenished as you repay the debt. This makes HELOC convenient for financing ongoing home improvement projects or other intermittent expenses.

Like a home equity loan, the full line plus the balance of your home equity loan can equate to 80% of the estimated market value of your home. You only pay the amount you have drawn from the line. Keep in mind that your lender may require a minimum withdrawal when opening an account or at a later point. Be sure to ask.

You should also ask about the duration of the draw and the repayment periods. Usually, you can borrow from the line for five to 10 years. Note that you may be required to repay the debt in full at the end of the draw period or have a balloon payment at the end of the loan. Other HELOCs have a payback period of 10 to 20 years after the end of the draw period. this is generally a safer bet.

It is common for lenders to demand interest-only payments during the lottery period, which means that you do not make any progress in repaying your balance. (Extra capital payments will save you money on interest you owe and help reduce your total debt faster.)

HELOC interest rates tend to start lower than home equity loans (in October the average interest rate on a HELOC was 4.55% compared to 5.10% on a home equity loan). However, most HELOCs charge variable interest rates instead of fixed rates. This may mean you have a lower interest rate and a monthly payment at the beginning, but the interest rate may change from month to month. Ask if the price offered to you is a temporary discount.

After an introductory period, most lenders base their HELOC interest rates on the US interest rate, which is an indicator of corporate interest rates charged by major banks. Lenders then add a unique margin set at the beginning of your loan. Be sure to ask for your individual interest rate margin and check the ceiling on interest rate changes over the life of the loan.

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How To Get A Home Equity Loan Or Home Equity Credit Limit

The conditions for qualifying for a mortgage or HELOC have become stricter during the coronavirus pandemic. Here are the steps to follow as you apply.

Step 1: Check your home equity

To qualify for a mortgage or HELOC, you must have equity in your home. Borrowers who are upside down for their first mortgage – which means they owe more than the house is currently worth – can not get this type of loan. It is also unlikely to be an option for brand new homeowners who have not yet raised equity through revaluation or regular mortgage payments. Keeping as much equity as possible is also a good insurance policy against falling home equity, so try to avoid borrowing more than you really need. Most lenders ceiling on home equity lending is around $ 250,000 or less.

Step 2: Check your credit score

Borrowers must prove that they have income, so those who have been laid off or laid off will not be eligible for a home equity loan or credit line. Lenders will also generally not lend on home equity if your credit score is lower than in the mid-600s. During the coronavirus pandemic, many lenders increased their demand sometime in the 700s, and some temporarily stopped accepting applications in the first months of the crisis.

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Step 3: Compare prices and charges

As with your first mortgage, it’s worth shopping for interest rates, charges and, especially with a HELOC, amortization terms. Ask lenders for any charges, such as application fee, annual fee, and cancellation or early closing fee. With HELOCs, it is important to read the fine print and understand the seemingly small details that can make a big difference in how much and when you pay.

Are home equity loans and credit limits secure?

Remember that taking out a home equity loan or HELOC increases the amount of debt you owe on your home. Lenders in these products usually take a second place of default, behind your first mortgage. If you can not pay, you can be excluded.

If home equity is falling, so is your equity. Do not take more than you can realistically return (this also increases the chances of approval).

Getting a Equity Mortgage Against Refinancing: Which Is Better?

An alternative to taking out a second mortgage is to refinance your first mortgage. If you just want more cash in your monthly budget, you may be able to reduce your monthly mortgage payment by refinancing at a lower mortgage rate.

If you need money now, you could opt for cash refinancing. With this type of refinancing, the cash you need is added to the balance of your loan, reducing the amount of equity you have at home. Instead of adding a second mortgage, a redemption refinance replaces your current mortgage with a new one.

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Low-credit borrowers may find it easier to qualify for a HELOC redemption or a home equity loan. Keep in mind, however, that refinancing restores your mortgage’s clock, which means you will have to pay for a longer period of time. With a redemption refinance you also pay the closing cost for the full loan amount instead of just the cash you need.

More from Money:

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