');} ');} ');} ');} ');} ');} ');} ');} ');} ');} ');} ');} ');} ');} ');} ');}

Refinancing; Home Equity Loan (HEL) and Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) basics

Since the federal reserve has been cutting rates like interest is goin out of style there has been a renewed interest in home equity loans and home equity lines of credit. So what exactly are these? What is the different? Should I care?

What is a HEL (home equity loan)?

This is a type of loan where the borrower uses the equity in their home as collateral. These loans a lot of times are used to finance home projects, pay off high interest credit card debt, or pay medical bills. A home equity loan requires good credit history and a good amount of equity in the home. In this loan, the borrower receives a lump sum at the time of closing and nothing more can be borrowed. The max amount of money that can be borrowed is determined by variables including credit history, income and the value of teh home. The amount that can be borrowed is usually up to the entire appraised value of the home minus the first mortgage. Closed end loans have fixed rates and can be amortized for periods of usually up to 15 years.

What is a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit)?
A Home Equity Line of Credit (often called HELOC, pronounced HEE-lock) is a loan in which the lender agrees to lend a maximum amount within an agreed period (called a term), where the collateral is the borrower’s equity in his/her house. This is also called an open-ended home equity loan.

What is the difference between a HELOC and a come equity loan?
The different is that in a HELOC the entire sum of money isn’t given to you up front. Instead you are given a line of credit, very similar to having a credit card. At closing you get a specific credit limit that you can borrow up to. During the period of time you are allowed to borrow you can borrow and pay back what you owe plus interest. Depending on how much you use the home equity line of credit you will have a monthly payment, generally only the interest on whatever is owed. Another difference is that the interest rate on a HELOC is based on the prime rate as set by the federal reserve. This means that the interest rate will change over time. Generally HELOC rates are lower than home equity loans because they are variable, however if there is significant economic turmoil you could get stuck with a very high interest rate.

For each, what are some of the advantages and disadvantages?

Home Equity Loan Advantages:
-All the money up front
-The interest is tax deductible
-Low closing costs

Home Equity Loan Disadvantages
-Fairly high interest rates
-No grace period, payments start right away
-No flexibility

HELOC Advantages:
-The interest is tax deductible
-HELOCs are viewed as not as bad in the eyes of creditors as a traditional home equity loan
-can be interest only
-no prepay

HELOC Disadvantages:
-Variable interest rates mean that rates can rise over time.
-Failure to keep to terms can and probably will result in foreclosure.
-No caps on interest rate
-Minimum draw amounts

As far as times to get home equity loans go, this is a good time. The federal prime interest rate is the lowest it has been in years. If you have sizable high interest debt, a HEL or HELOC might be a good idea…just remember putting up your home for collateral is dangerous!

Leave a Reply