Homeowners looking to borrow against their home equity often consider two popular options, either of which don’t require a new first mortgage: a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) and a Home Equity Loan (HELOAN). While both allow access to your home equity, there are important differences between a HELOC and HELOAN that you should understand before deciding which one is the better option for you.
HELOCs are revolving lines of credit, much like credit cards. You can borrow against your home equity up to a certain limit, upwards of 90% or more of your home’s appraised value, and only pay interest on the amount you use. HELOCs have variable interest rates and can be used for any purpose.
In contrast, HELOANs are lump-sum loans that you receive upfront and pay back over a fixed term with a fixed interest rate. You can borrow against your home equity, and the amount you can borrow depends on your home’s appraised value and creditworthiness. HELOANs are often used for significant expenses like home renovations or medical bills.
When considering whether to take out a HELOC or HELOAN, there are some crucial differences to keep in mind. Repayment terms for a HELOC allow you to pay back what you use and can last for 10-20 years. HELOCs often have an introductory interest-only repayment period, often 10 years (followed by a repayment period of 20 years). On the other hand, HELOANs are paid back over a fixed term, typically 10-30 years. Interest rates for HELOCs are usually variable, while HELOANs most often have a fixed interest rate.
In terms of flexibility, HELOCs are the better option. You can borrow and repay as needed, up to the maximum credit limit, and can reuse the line of credit over time, typically for the first 10 years. This makes HELOCs ideal for homeowners with ongoing or unpredictable expenses. HELOANs may be better suited for homeowners with a specific, one-time expense in mind.
When it comes to closing costs, HELOCs usually have lower costs, as you only pay for what you borrow. HELOANs may have slightly higher closing costs as you borrow a lump sum upfront. Both options come with some risk, such as the risk of increasing interest rates with HELOCs or larger fixed monthly payments with HELOANs.
Deciding between HELOC vs HELOAN always depends on your unique financial situation and goals. If you need ongoing access to cash or have unpredictable expenses, a HELOC may be the better choice. For a specific, one-time expense, a HELOAN may be more suitable. Understanding the differences between the two can help you make an informed decision.
MasonMac loan officers have the experience to help you navigate the two options and determine which may be right for you. Give us a call to learn more, or you can always reach out for a quick response by asking a question here.