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A Home Equity Loan - Is It For You?


Home equity loans are often touted as being the solution to so many things - giving you access to money for home repairs or improvements, a way to consolidate debt, finance a sudden family emergency, or even as a way to start an investment portfolio. There's a lot to think about, though, before you go and sign up for the first home equity loan you see.

A home equity loan is like a second mortgage on your home. If your home is currently worth $130,000, and you have a mortgage against it for $70,000, then you have $60,000 of equity available. Some home equity loans may allow you to borrow up to 80% of your home's value, others may go higher in special circumstances. In this example, you would be able to borrow another $34,000 as a home equity loan and still have only borrowed 80%.

So the first step is to get a reasonably good idea of what your home is worth on the market. Your friendly realtor may help with this, but be aware that sometimes they can inflate the value in the hope of getting your business. You can also look at what price similar houses close by have sold for. Or you can pay a qualified valuer to assess your home.

Now you have a starting figure, you can work out how much equity you have in your home. The other important figure to work out is how much you need for whatever purpose you have in mind. Hopefully that works out to be less than the equity available! It's even better if it's less than 80% of the available equity.

At this point it's important not to get carried away. It can be all too easy to say, well, I have $50,000 available and I really only need $30,000 to complete the repairs, so why not borrow $40,000 and blow the rest on a holiday? Remember - the more you borrow, the more it will cost you in repayments. It's very easy to borrow too much, only to find yourself struggling to meet the payments and maybe even losing your home.

You also need to decide what type of home equity loan you want. There are two main types - a closed end loan and a line of credit. A closed end loan is basically the same as a standard home mortgage - you borrow the amount for a set period of time, and make payments over time to gradually pay off the balance.

A line of credit, on the other hand, is like having a credit card with a big limit. Some banks will require you to make minimum payments each month, others only require payments if you're at your limit. Either way, the loan will only be for a set period of time, and at the end of that you will either have to extend the time period or refinance the loan with another lender. This type of facility can be useful if you're disciplined with your money, but if you're the type of person whose credits cards are always at their limits, it may not be a good idea at all to have ready access to such a large amount of credit.

Next, you need to work out how long you want to borrow the money for. This will vary depending on how much money you are borrowing, the type of home equity loan and how much you can afford to pay. There are lots of good mortgage calculators online that can help you to work this out. If borrowing the money over 5 years for a closed end loan means you won't be able to meet the payments, then see if spreading the loan over 10 years becomes more affordable for you. You will pay more in the long run, but at least you won't default on your loan.

When you know what you want, it's time to go and find it! It may be worth starting with banks recommended to you by friends and family - at least they'll be able to give feedback on their experiences. You can also shop around online, looking for the best deal.

Finally, when you have chosen the loan you want and are ready to proceed, do two more things. Firstly, check for fees. Banks are aware of the need to be competitive, and will often avoid charging up front fees for that reason. However it's amazing what can be hidden in the fine print of a contract. So read any loan documents thoroughly before signing. If you can, get the contract explained to you by your legal advisor.

Home equity loans can be a wonderful tool when used correctly. Do your homework first, find the loan that best matches what you want, and go for it. Just make sure you don't over extend yourself or sign documents that will give you nightmares forever.

Copyright Felicity Walker 2005

Investing and finance are two passions of the author. To find out more, check out http://www.homeequityloanzonecentral.com for more information.


MORE RESOURCES:

Refinance rates slide for Tuesday  Bankrate.com

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Refinance Share Edged Back Down in February as Mortgage Rates Stabilized  Mortgageorb

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The 2004-07 bubble era in U.S. housing markets was a time of utter madness. Much has been written about it, but almost nothing has been said about the ...


LendingTree: Number of mortgage borrowers receiving interest rates under 5% rises  HousingWire

LendingTree's latest Mortgage Rate Competition Index revealed that the number of mortgage borrowers with interest rates under 5% inched forward for the week ...


Ellie Mae: Millennials' interest in mortgage refinance spikes  HousingWire

In January, slightly lower interest rates led to Millennial homebuyers increasing their requests to refinance their mortgages. In fact, according to Ellie Mae's latest ...


Mortgage rates fall for the third week in a row  The Washington Post

The 30-year fixed-rate average dropped to 4.35 percent, its lowest level in more than a year.


LendingTree: Fewer homebuyers received mortgage rates under 5% last week  HousingWire

LendingTree's latest Mortgage Rate Competition Index revealed that borrowers with interest rates under 5% reversed course, inching backwards for the week ...


Paul Manafort charged with committing residential mortgage fraud — which is more common than you'd think  MarketWatch

Mortgage fraud risk has risen substantially in recent years as refinance activity has dried up for lenders.


LendingTree: Pool of mortgage borrowers receiving interest rates under 5% is shrinking  HousingWire

LendingTree's latest Mortgage Rate Competition Index revealed that borrowers with interest rates under 5% slid further for the week ending Feb. 17, 2019.


Home Sales Slump While Mortgage Apps Rise  National Mortgage Professional Magazine

Today's housing data news finds a seesaw ride with home sales going down, while mortgage applications are going up.


Economic downshift drops mortgage forecasts again: Fannie Mae  National Mortgage News

Fannie Mae estimates the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage to hold at 4.4% through 2019 and 2020 due to the overall slowdown in the economy, according ...


Important Mortgage Facts Shared By National Debt Relief  Benzinga

NEW YORK, March 21, 2019 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- Taking out a mortgage is one of the biggest decisions any American family will undertake that is why ...


Mortgage rates sink to lowest levels in more than a year  The Washington Post

Mortgage rates were driven down this week by weak economic data and concerns about global growth. According to the latest data released Thursday by ...


Refinance rates drop off for Monday  Bankrate.com

Multiple key refinance rates fell today. If you haven't locked a refi yet, see how your payments might be affected.


New VA rules aimed at curbing predatory lending for cash-out mortgage refinances  Bankrate.com

An interim final rule on VA-guaranteed cash-out refinance loans was published on February 19 to protect borrowers from predatory lenders. The rule executes ...


Once Considered Inferior, Automated Appraisals Are Helping Stem Default Risk  Mortgage News Daily

Although lacking in popularity, it appears that automated appraisals have obtained their intended results. Urban Institute (UI) researchers Laurie Goodman and ...


Mortgage Applications Increase in March  World Property Journal

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Refinance rates drop for Saturday  Bankrate.com

Several benchmark refinance rates fell today. See what that means for you if you're in the market for a mortgage.


TRANSACTIONS: CV Capital Funding refinances mixed-used portfolio  Real Estate Weekly

Roundup of this week's middle market loans features Arbor Realty Trust, Meridian Capital, Eastern Union Funding, GCP, Houlihan Parnes and CV Capital ...


Refinance rates advance for Monday  Bankrate.com

Several benchmark refinance rates moved higher today. See what that means for you if you're in the market for a home loan.


More inventory, lower mortgage rates as 2019 homebuying season tilts toward buyers  Bankrate.com

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Some 2.43 million homeowners can reduce their mortgage interest rate by refinancing, according to a recent mortgage report by Black Knight, a mortgage data ...


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Mortgage refinance applications hit 18-year low  CNBC

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Homeowners who snagged a low-interest mortgage in recent years generally avoid refinancing the loan because interest rates are higher now. When they need ...


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Refinance mortgage rate moves higher for Monday  Bankrate.com

Refinance rates were mixed, but one key rate trended upward. If you're in the market for a mortgage, see how your payments might be affected.


Mortgage rates drop below 4.5%. Homeowners scramble to refinance | Mortgage Rates, Mortgage News and Strategy  The Mortgage Reports

There is a quiet refinance boom brewing, as mortgage rates sink to 9-month lows. Not since April 2018 have rates been this low. Freddie Mac, in its weekly ...


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You probably have a number of ways to pay off a mortgage faster. You can refinance to a shorter term, pay more on your existing mortgage or free up your ...


Refinance mortgage rates mixed for Tuesday  Bankrate.com

Refinance rates were mixed today. If you're in the market for a refi, see how that could affect you.


Should You Refinance Your Mortgage?  Forbes

Evidently many mortgage borrowers fail to understand that mortgage refinances have a variety of possible purposes, and their success depends on a variety of ...


Refinance mortgage rate dips for Tuesday  Bankrate.com

Refinance rates were mixed, but one key rate decreased. If you're in the market for a home loan, see how your payments might be affected.


Refinance mortgage rate slides for Friday  Bankrate.com

Refinance rates were mixed, but one key rate slid lower. If you haven't locked a refinance yet, see how your finances could be affected.


Couldn't qualify to refinance last year? Lenders more likely to say yes in 2019 | Mortgage Rates, Mortgage News and Strategy  The Mortgage Reports

If you have been wanting to refinance but had a hard time getting approved, 2019 might be your year. Lenders are allowing higher debt-to-income ratios, ...


Refinance rates decline for Thursday  Bankrate.com

Several benchmark refinance rates decreased today. See what that means for your refinance.


Refinance mortgage rates mixed for Saturday  Bankrate.com

Refinance rates were mixed today. See what that means for you if you're in the market for a home loan.


Mortgage applications fall, as refinancing hits 20-year low  CNBC

A significant drop in mortgage interest rates was not enough to entice homeowners to refinance their loans last week.


Weekly refinance demand plummets as mortgage rates hit a 5-week high  CNBC

A sharp rise in mortgage interest rates took its toll on the lending business last week. Mortgage application volume fell 1.8 percent for the week, according to the ...


Refinance rates decline for Tuesday  Bankrate.com

Multiple closely watched refinance rates trended down today. See what that means for your refinance chances.


Refinance mortgage rates mixed for Monday  Bankrate.com

Refinance rates were mixed today. If you're shopping for a mortgage, see how your payments might be affected.


Refinance mortgage rate falls for Friday  Bankrate.com

Refinance rates were mixed, but one key rate declined. If you're shopping for a mortgage, see how your payments might be affected.


Refinance rates retreat for Monday  Bankrate.com

Multiple benchmark refinance rates tapered off today. If you're in the market for a mortgage, see how your payments might be affected.


Credible Expands Their Marketplace Into Mortgage Refinancing  Lend Academy

Credible made a name for themselves in student loans. They are the first and largest marketplace for people looking to refinance their student loans. Borrowers ...


Factors to weigh when considering whether to refinance your home  Washington Post

Q: I was offered a mortgage “recast” and I need help evaluating if it is a sound financial move. My home is worth $250,000. I owe about $68,000, as I have been ...


Refinance mortgage rate rises for Thursday  Bankrate.com

Refinance rates were mixed, but one key rate climbed higher. If you're shopping for a mortgage, see what that means for you.


Refinancing activity in the US just plunged to the lowest level in over a decade  Business Insider

Refinancing activity plunged to the lowest level since 2000 as interest rates rise.


Thinking of Refinancing Your Mortgage? Check These 4 Financial Areas First  Forbes

Refinancing your mortgage can be a great way to save on your monthly payment or to change up the terms of your loan. However, while it's a financial move that ...


Refinance rates tick lower for Thursday  Bankrate.com

Several closely watched refinance rates dropped today. See what that means for you if you're in the market for a mortgage.


Refinance mortgage rate ratchets higher for Thursday  Bankrate.com

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Refinance rates hold steady for Friday  Bankrate.com

Several benchmark refinance rates held steady today. See what that means for you if you're in the market for a mortgage.


Refinance mortgage rates mixed for Friday  Bankrate.com

Refinance rates were mixed today. If you haven't locked a refinance yet, see what that means for you.


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Can or should you use a cash-out refinance to buy another home? Maybe, if that's the most cost-effective source of a down payment or even the whole purchase ...


Refinance rates decline for Wednesday  Bankrate.com

Several key refinance rates were down today. If you're in the market for a home loan, see how your payments might be affected.


Refinance rates slide for Saturday  Bankrate.com

Multiple closely watched refinance rates were down today. If you're in the market for a refinance, see how that could affect you.


Refinance rates increase for Saturday  Bankrate.com

Multiple benchmark refinance rates moved higher today. See what that means for your refinance chances.


Refinance mortgage rate slides for Thursday  Bankrate.com

Refinance rates were mixed, but one key rate declined. If you haven't locked a refi yet, see how your payments might be affected.


Refinance rates move up for Thursday  Bankrate.com

Several closely watched refinance rates advanced today. If you're in the market for a mortgage, see how your payments might be affected.


Cash-out refinance for renovation: Increase your home equity | Mortgage Rates, Mortgage News and Strategy  The Mortgage Reports

Considering a cash-out refinance for renovation? Here's what you need to know about options for financing home improvements.


Refinance mortgage rate eases for Thursday  Bankrate.com

Refinance rates were mixed, but one key rate dropped. If you're in the market for a mortgage, see how your payments might be affected.


Refinance rates decline for Saturday  Bankrate.com

Several key refinance rates dropped today. If you haven't locked a refi yet, see how your finances could be affected.


Unpaid federal workers can sidestep rules to apply for cash-out mortgage refinance  Bankrate.com

As the partial government shutdown drags on with no end in sight, furloughed federal workers are faced with mounting financial obligations and a variety of relief ...


Do I need an appraisal to refinance my home? | Mortgage Rates, Mortgage News and Strategy  The Mortgage Reports

Do you need a home appraisal to refinance your mortgage? Not necessarily. Here's what you need to know about conforming, USDA, FHA and VA refinances ...


Texas cash-out refinance: new laws you need to know | Mortgage Rates, Mortgage News and Strategy  The Mortgage Reports

Cash-out refinance Texas rules for homeowners in Texas. Texas cash-out refinancing is different from other states and you'd better know the rules before taking ...


Refinance mortgage rate falls for Tuesday  Bankrate.com

Refinance rates were mixed, but one key rate dropped. If you haven't locked a refinance yet, see how your payments might be affected.


Refinance rates trend higher for Tuesday  Bankrate.com

Several closely watched refinance rates rose today. If you're in the market for a mortgage, see what that means for you.


Best cash-out refinance lenders 2019 | Mortgage Rates, Mortgage News and Strategy  The Mortgage Reports

If you want to pull equity out of your home in 2019, check out this list of best cash-out refinance lenders. Because mortgage rates and costs for cash-out ...


Refinance mortgage rate advances for Thursday  Bankrate.com

Refinance rates were mixed, but one key rate moved higher. See what that means for your refinance chances.


Refinance rates slide for Monday  Bankrate.com

Multiple benchmark refinance rates ticked downward today. If you're in the market for a home loan, see what that means for you.


When to refinance: I need to lower my mortgage rate or payment | Mortgage Rates, Mortgage News and Strategy  The Mortgage Reports

If you're wondering when to refinance, consider your objectives and see if you'll pay less interest, reduce your payment, or lower your overall costs.


The Best Reasons to Refinance Your Mortgage  MoneyWise.com

Just like your car, sometimes your mortgage is due for a trade-in. You might find a new model with improved options that will save you money or fit better wi...


Refinance rates ease for Monday  Bankrate.com

Multiple key refinance rates ticked downward today. If you're shopping for a mortgage, see how your payments might be affected.


When Is a Cash-Out Refinance Loan a Good Idea?  U.S News & World Report Money

Tapping the equity in your home to get cash can be a smart move, but only if the cash is used for the right purpose.


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In this article: In most cases, interest rates for home equity loans and lines of credit are higher than those of traditional first mortgages. And home equity financing ...


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Refinance mortgage rate trends higher for Tuesday  Bankrate.com

Refinance rates were mixed, but one key rate advanced. If you're shopping for a home loan, see what that means for you.


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Refinancing at the right time can save you thousands of dollars a year.


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