Comparing Home Equity Loans – 2nd Mortgage Advice

If you are thinking about undertaking a major home improvement project or debt consolidation for those mounting credit card bills, then perhaps it’s time to consider a home equity loan. While the two most common home equity loans are the home equity loan and the home equity line of credit (HELOC), there are a couple of other mortgage loan options as well including the 125% loan and cash-out refinancing. When comparing home equity loans several factors should be considered such as whether it’s a fixed or variable interest rate, if you have good or bad credit, which affects the interest rate of the loan, how much equity you have in your home and how much money you need and for what purpose, and which loan offers monthly payments you can afford.

What is a Home Equity Loan?

A home equity loan allows a homeowner to obtain cash in the form of a loan or line of credit in return for the equity built up in their home. Equity refers to the difference between the original loan amount on the mortgage and what the home is currently worth. For example if a home with an original mortgage loan of $100,000 is now worth $150,000 the amount of equity in the home is equivalent to $50,000.

Homeowners can benefit from second mortgages in several ways. Home equity loans generally have a lower interest rate than other types of loans and since most homeowners already have some equity built into their homes, they are a convenient and easy source of cash. There are also tax advantages in that the interest is tax deductible unlike credit card or loan interest.

What Kinds of Home Equity Loans are Available?

A home equity line of credit (HELOC) or home line of credit is a variable rate loan. Monthly payments vary according to the interest rate, which corresponds to the prime rate set by the Federal Reserve Bank. With a HELOC, homeowners are pre-approved for a specific amount of money and use the loan like a line of credit, withdrawing cash as it is needed. Interest rates (and monthly payments) often start off low but eventually end up rising.

In contrast, a home equity loan offers homeowners a lump sum payment with a fixed interest rate and loan terms ranging from 5 to 15 years. Homeowners pay the same amount of money every month for the duration of the loan. Both are considered second mortgages, and as with a conventional mortgage loan, both home equity loans and home equity lines of credit have closing costs associated with them. According to Don Taylor, PhD, CFA, CFP, a columnist at, if you need money for a big-ticket item or single home improvement project go with a home equity loan. If you need money on a continuous basis and don’t mind the fluctuating interest rates, go with a HELOC.

The 125% loan is a 2nd mortgage loan option in which homeowners can borrow up to 125% of home’s value. For example, if your home is worth $100,000 and your first mortgage is $95,000, you can borrow $30,000, for a total of $125,000. The total of the first and second mortgages combined cannot exceed the appraised value of the home however. A 125% loan is useful when a homeowner needs more cash than can be obtained through a conventional home equity loan. Cash-out refinancing refers to refinancing your home at a lower interest rate (either a fixed or variable rate) and getting cash out, providing cash to a homeowner to pay for home improvement projects or pay down credit card bills.

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Why Home Equity Loans are Said To Be Advantageous?

Home equity loan is one of the most popular and affordable option of loan. Loan has become inevitable in the present circumstances. In the changed economic circumstances many new varieties of loans are also introduced to the market. Most of the loans seem to be advantageous one. But most often the confusion will be to select the most appropriate loan option. Home equity loan can be considered as one of the best loan options as it has many pronounced benefits.

The benefits of home equity loan are mainly because of its unique feature as the secured loan. As in any other secured loan, in home equity loan the home acts as the collateral security. The lender will be more likely to provide the best offers as he has the security of the home. The loan amount will be in proportionate with the amount of equity you have in the house and the appraisal of the house. Now, most of the homes are given maximum appraisal, even as high as 125%. In an average, a home in good condition and located in nice locations, will get the appraisal of about 80%. The equity in the home indicates the amount of value you have paid off in the mortgage loan.

The home equity loan is a typical second mortgage loan. The home equity loan also offers the privilege of the option of two different loan types, namely the standard equity loan and the equity line of credit. The equity line of credit is a unique loan that gives you the flexibility to use the amount at the time you prefer, where as the standard equity loan follows the usual pattern of a loan. As foresaid, the interest rate of the home equity loan is comparatively less than other loan types, and in specific the standard equity loan interest is in fixed rate where as equity line of credit is in adjustable rate. Moreover, the amount of interest rate will get tax deduction as per the government norms. Apart from the home equity loan, mortgage loan refinancing is also associated with home equity. Home equity loan amount is preferred for any purpose since it is advantageous than any other loans. Generally home equity loan is availed for a wide variety of uses such as home improvement, debt consolidation, student loan and even for a holiday.

The home equity loan is most advantageous for the bad credit people. It is difficult for the bad credit people to avail any kind of loan as the standard eligibility criteria do not support them. But, home equity loan offer almost the best rates for the bad credit people as lenders have the security of the house. However the appraisal will be the foremost deciding factor of the loan amount, in case of bad credit people. The entry of the many bad credit focused lenders to the market helps them to avail their best. The loan processing has become very easy with the online lenders. The comparative search of the loan market will help to avail the best offers in the home equity.

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Lynda Nelms Platinum Quality Author Platinum Author | 14 Articles Joined: April 6, 2006 United States When Is The Best Time For A Home Equity Loan?

Americans have been tapping their equity from their homes for decades by taking out home equity loans, equity lines of credit or refinancing. When I was child growing up in the sixties, it was inappropriate for neighbors to talk about a second mortgage, because it meant that you mismanaged your money and the implications were always centered on financial trouble. Times have changed, because over 60% of homes purchased today include a second mortgage in the sales transaction.

If you are a homeowner, you have most likely received solicitations all the time to apply for a home equity loan or refinancing your second mortgage. Home equity loans can be efficient tools for financing home improvements and consolidating credit card debt. Home equity lines of credit can improve cash flow, and provide flexibility for investing. Having an equity line of credit secured to your property, can provide a safety net of cash reserves for family emergencies, or sudden investment opportunities. We suggest getting approved for a home equity loan when you need it least. What we mean by that is, “Don’t wait until you are late on your bills or when a close family member needs your help.” Rarely in life can you plan for investment opportunities, financial obstacles. Remember that mortgage lenders and banks can always get you a loan when you need it. For example, If you are late on your credit card bills and the banks report you late to the credit bureaus, there is a good chance that your credit scores have dropped, and you might not qualify for the home equity loan you need. The same is true, for if you stumble across a worthy investment. Typically investments have a small window of opportunity, and by the time you get approved for a second mortgage, and actually close escrow, the opportunity may be gone.

There are three popular second mortgages that are worth considering.

1. Standard Fixed Rate Second Mortgage- This is your traditional lump sum 2nd loan that features a fixed interest rate and repayment terms that range between 15-30 years. Typically these loans have a 3 year pre-payment penalty that can be bought out in most cases if requested in advance to the loan closing. These 2nd mortgages are recommended for consolidating debt or helping with the down payment of a second home. With these loans each payment you make will go towards paying down the principal and the interest. (125% combined loan to value)

2. Home Equity Line of Credit- This 2nd mortgage is a revolving line of credit similar to a credit card, but interest is deductible to 100% of your homes’ value. The best thing about home equity lines is that you only pay interest when you access cash. If you never touch the line, then you never have a payment due. Home equity lines have variable interest rates and the payments start out low with because, only the interest is due each month during the initial 10-year draw period. This is a very popular short-term finance vehicle for home improvement projects and construction. Once the project is completed people will typically refinance the loan into a fixed rate mortgage loan. We recommend this type of home equity financing for establishing reserves in cases of emergency or investment opportunity. (100% combined loan to value)

3. Home Equity Loan Hybrid- This home equity loan boasts of a fixed interest rate with the ability to make interest only payments for the draw period that is usually 5 or 10 years. These home equity loans have fixed interest for the life of the loan, but they allow you to make a minimum payment of just the interest if you choose. The hybrid equity loans usually require high credit scores, but ask your loan officer about the underwriting guidelines, because the program criteria may change. . (100% combined loan to value)

In summary, don’t wait until the last minute to get approved for a home equity loan. If you really don’t know what you will need, then remember the home equity line will cost you nothing each month if you never use it. Talk to your loan officer, and discuss whether or not you will be doing a full documentation loan, or stated income loan. This will determine whether or not you will need to submit your W2′s and pay-stubs with your loan application. Discuss the interest rates and closing costs for each home equity loan option. Takes a few minutes and review the “good faith estimate” with your loan officer, so you feel good about taking out a loan against your home. Don’t wait for the interest rate to go up any more, and get approved for the second mortgage that gives you flexibility today and access to cash tomorrow when you really need it.

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