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HELOC Loans Explained

What Exactly Is a HELOC Loan?

Your financial portfolio may benefit from including a house as an important asset. A house is not a savings account, therefore it may be challenging to access that value when you need it the most.

Understanding how to use a HELOC is advisable to prevent financial difficulties. Let’s go over all the information you require.

What Exactly Is a HELOC Loan?

A HELOC is a line of credit taken up using the equity in your home. The credit line is available for use in any quantity, so you only pay interest on what you really use. This period, which is also known as a “draw period,” normally lasts 10 years.

Most HELOC creditors let you make interest-only payments during the draw term. The loan balance remains unchanged, so you simply pay the monthly interest payment. Although some creditors provide a fixed-rate HELOC option, the majority of HELOCs have a variable rate that may alter over time.

The balance of the home equity line of credit is repaid in predetermined payments over the course of the “repayment period,” which is typically between 15 and 20 years after the draw period has ended.

Your home is the security for HELOCs, so if you can’t pay back the sum, you risk losing your house. Because they are paid off after your primary mortgage in the event of a foreclosure, HELOCs are known as “second mortgages.”

How Do HELOC Loans Work?

A home equity line of credit application is quite similar to a primary mortgage application. The amount of equity you possess in your house, its appraised value, your income, the total amount of your loans, and your credit rating are all things that creditors will seek to know.

The creditor wants to assess your credit risk and determine the value of your security, which is typically your home.

A HELOC functions roughly like a credit card in its most basic form. You can take loans up to the creditor’s predetermined credit limit and then repay it to them together with interest. This choice may give you more flexibility; if required, you could even withdraw money and make repayments on a daily or monthly basis.

HELOCs include a variety of borrowing and payback terms, but the 30-year repayment duration is one of the most popular. Think about how long you would like the credit line to be open before applying. Also take into account whether the creditor levies fees for appraisals, court filings, and closing costs.

HELOC vs. Home Equity Loan: What’s the Difference?

Homeowners frequently compare and contrast HELOCs with home equity loans. A home equity loan resembles a conventional mortgage more. That’s because you start off with a defined payment schedule and receive your money in one lump sum upfront.

The distinctions between a HELOC and a home equity loan are shown in the following table.

  HELOC Home Equity Loan
Adjustable Interest Rate
Fixed Interest Rate
Access to Funds Use and pay back as necessary Obtain in one lump sum
Only Pay Interest on the Amount You Borrow
Option for Interest-Only Payments
Pull Money as Needed.

HELOC Loans: Pros and Cons


  • You may take out a loan as much as you require: HELOCs give you the ability to borrow any amount of money you need. This is advantageous if you are unsure about the final cost of your project or investment.
  • There are no restrictions on the usage of the borrowed funds: Use the funds however you like, but it’s a good idea to make a plan for how you’ll use and recoup the money beforehand.
  • Take advantage of low-interest terms: The interest rate on a HELOC is typically substantially lower than that of a personal loan or credit card because the loan is secured by security (your property).
  • Term flexibility: Only borrow for what you actually need. 
  • There may be tax deductions available: The interest you paid on a HELOC might be tax deductible if you use the cash to cover home renovations.


  • Your house is utilized as security: This means that if you don’t pay back your loan, you can lose your home.
  • Rates and payments can go up: Since many HELOCs have variable rates, even if the amount stays the same, your interest rate may grow over time, raising your monthly payment.
  • Lowering the value of your home’s equity: The equity you’ve toiled so hard to establish will be reduced if you take out a HELOC. 
  • There will be expenses up front: You might have to settle a processing fee, for a house assessment, title search, and legal fees before getting a HELOC.

Are HELOC Loans a Good Idea?

A HELOC might help people deal with their mounting obligations, but it can also be the cause of their debt problems. If you are paying off debt using a HELOC, speak with a debt counselor to devise a plan for handling your money that will help you get out of debt.

Those who are in debt frequently view a HELOC as a simple fix. Yes, it can serve as a backup if you don’t have access to emergency finances to help you deal with a debt issue. Instead of utilizing credit cards, which may have substantially greater interest rates and late penalties, a line of credit may be preferable.

However, if homeowners use a HELOC to pay off other debts and then proceed to spend greater than their salaries allow, it might make their debt problems worse. Reloading describes this pattern of borrowing money frequently to keep ends meet for the homeowner.

Alternatives to HELOC Loans

Here are several alternatives to take into account if you’re thinking about a HELOC but aren’t sure if it’s the best option for you.

Home Equity Loans

Home equity loans and HELOCs both entail borrowing money against the value of your home and using that value as security. Even while the differences between a HELOC and a home equity loan may appear insignificant in comparison, they can have a significant impact on borrowing and repayment.

Cash-out Refinance

While a cash-out refinance also includes taking out a loan from the value of your house, it does it by completely refinancing your mortgage as opposed to establishing a separate arrangement.

Personal Loan

Individuals with excellent credit who don’t want to take the chance of losing their home can find quality terms and conditions with secured loans. An unsecured personal loan, which is not secured by security, can also be something you want to think about.

Unsecured loans do have a disadvantage, though, in that you’ll probably pay a higher interest rate because creditors view them as riskier than secured loans.

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