It may be easier for homeowners who wish to tap into their home’s equity to obtain a home equity loan (HELOC) or line of credit (HELOC) than it was last year. Many banks in the U.S. stopped offering home equity products during the COVID-19 epidemic. This is all changing as home prices continue to rise across the country.
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Fred Glick, CEO at Arrivva, a real-estate company, says that even though rates were low during the pandemic rate loans were difficult to get because lenders required more information about income and property. “Now, it’s getting better.”
What is a Home Equity loan and Home Equity line of credit (HELOC),?
Both are very similar but there are differences. Both can put you at risk of foreclosure, if your lender fails to repay you.
You pay the lender a lump sum and then receive interest in monthly payments. Home equity loans are paid as one lump sum. It’s like a second mortgage for your home. Fixed interest rates on home equity loans mean that the rate is fixed and will not change. Depending on how they are used, they may also be tax-deductible.
The HELOC works like a credit card and allows you to access the funds whenever you need them. The balance available is replenished as soon as you pay off the balance. You can withdraw funds for a period, then you will be able to repay the balance.
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Requirements for Borrowing from Home Equity
You must have sufficient equity in your home to be eligible for a loan from it’s equity. You must have paid at least 15% to 20% off your home’s equity in order to qualify. For example, $100,000 for a home valued at $500,000. The lender will appraise your home’s worth as part of the process. This is at your expense.
Samuel Eberts, junior partner, financial advisor at Dugan Brown, a retirement company, says equity is the difference between the home’s appraised value, and the total mortgage balance.
Do You Need a Home Equity Loan?
It is important to know how much money and how long you will need it before making a decision about a home equity loan or a HELOC.
The line of credit [HELOC] is more flexible than a loan if you don’t know how much you will need to do the things you want. Eberts warns that this has the downside of increasing interest rates. You could end up paying higher rates and still have to make regular mortgage payments.
Make the payments, no matter what decision you make. You don’t want your home to be foreclosed on.
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Alternatives to HELOCs and Home Equity Loans
There are many other options to help you reach your financial goals if the idea of your home being used as collateral for a loan is not appealing to you. These are other options:
Cash-out refinance: When you refinance your mortgage for more than what you owe, you receive the difference as a lump sum. Akhil Kumar, vice-president and CCO at Arch Global Advisors, a financial advisor firm, said that if you qualify for lower rates through a cash out finance plan, it could be a great idea. This might not be as sensible now that rates are higher than the historically low rates they have been over the past two year.
Balance transfer credit card: You may be eligible for a balance transfer credit card at 0% APR if you have excellent credit. You can transfer any existing debt to this card at 0% interest, sometimes for up to 18 months. You can make large purchases and then pay off the debt over time without interest. You must pay the balance off before the promotional period ends or interest will be charged.
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Credit Counseling: Contact a non-profit credit counseling agency if you need help with your budget or paying off debt. You will receive tools that are based on education to help you manage your money. This program will empower you to manage your financial affairs and make better financial decisions for the future. Search the U.S. Credit Counselor Database to find one. Here is the Trustee Program database.