Understanding the Difference Between Home Equity Loans and Home Equity Line of Credit

Property owners often wonder how they can use the value of their house to access low-interest financing. A loan or a home equity line of credit are two options available to you. To figure out which will better suit your needs, see some of the differences below.

Home Equity Loan (HEL)

A loan tapping into the value of your house is a good way to borrow money. This option allows you to get a fixed amount and receive it in one lump sum. The amount you receive is based on your home’s value, payment terms, verifiable income, and credit history. You can get it with a fixed rate, fixed term, and even a fixed monthly installment. In addition, interest payments are 100 percent tax deductible.

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

With a home equity line of credit, you do not get your money all at once. Instead, you open a revolving credit, which allows you to receive money as you need. Your house is used as collateral to open the credit account. Companies approve this type of account based on the appraised value of the property and subtracting the current balance of the existing mortgage. Some consider income, debt ratio, and credit history.

Unlike a HEL, on a HELOC you withdraw the funds as needed over a period of time, usually five to ten years. Plans vary and you may have special checks or a card to use in order to access your funds. Depending on your account, you may have to borrow no less than a set amount each time you access it. You may also have to maintain a minimum balance outstanding. Some plans require a specific initial withdraw as well.

After the “draw period” ends, some HELOC providers will allow you to renew the terms of the account. Not all lenders allow you to renew the plan. In addition, once the “draw period” has ended, you enter the “repayment period.” Your lender may require you to pay back the entire amount at this time. Others allow you to make installments.

How Do They Differ

While both a HEL and an HELOC allow you to tap into the value of your property to gain access to financing, there are two major differences. That is the interest rates and the repayment terms.

With a HEL, you get a fixed interest rate. This means you know what your interest rate is from month to month. This also makes your payments fixed, making it easy to budget each month.

However, a home equity line of credit usually has an adjustable rate. This means that the monthly interest payment can shift based on the index. Lenders traditionally add a margin of a few percentage points to the prime rate. You should ask the lender what index is used, what is the margin charged, how frequently does the rate adjust, and what the cap and floor on the rate is.

Since the interest is adjustable, monthly installments fluctuate. In addition, during the draw period you could be responsible for repaying the monthly interest only, not paying on the principle until after the repayment period begins.

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