The HELOC loan is one of the most cherished and powerful financial tools for homeowners in the United States. In 2024 mortgage rates are nearly double what they were three years ago which makes the home equity line of credit, also known as a HELOC the best opportunity for homeowners to get quick access to cash without having to refinance their low interest mortgage.

We created this HELOC loan guide to help homeowners learn about the pros and cons of home equity credit lines so you can apply with the best HELOC lenders. that meet your financial needs.

What is a HELOC Loan?

The HELOC loan is an acronym for the term “home equity line of credit.” The HELOC is a revolving line of credit and lenders approve a specific amount that is relative to the amount of equity you have earned with your home according to a licensed appraiser.

HELOC loans are only available to homeowners that request a junior lien on against their property with a home equity lender.

The HELOC is a highly touted financial tool that enables homeowners to access funds by using their home equity as collateral. Because HELOC rates are typically lower than credit cards, homeowners often choose this cost-effective option for debt consolidation and home improvement projects.

HELOC loan programs offer interest-only payments during the draw period, which usually lasts several years. The HELOC is a great alternative to getting a refinance with cash out.

Apply with Top HELOC Loan Lenders for Today’s Lowest Rates

how to apply for heloc loans

Is the value of your home rising? Do you have at least 10 to 20% equity? Then you may be thinking about tapping some of your hard-earned money with a home equity line of credit, or HELOC.

If so, please use this article as your guide to HELOC loans for 2024. The tax deduction laws on HELOCs and equity loans were recently changed so it is important to get up to speed on all the changes.

Does a HELOC Hurt your Credit Score?

When it comes to your credit, a HELOC revolves like a traditional credit card.

Of course when you initially apply for a line of credit HELOC, it could temporarily impact your credit score.

However, if you are delinquent on a HELOC payments for over 30 days its can dramatically lower your credit score. If you have leave unpaid revolving debt sitting on your line of credit, it can also reduce your score as that minimizes your total available credit.

What is the 5 day HELOC Loan?

After the applicant has received an approval, the closing process for a HELOC can be completed in as few as five business days. This is a special program featuring an automated home equity credit line with a 5-day turnaround.  This 5-day HELOC can be secured for credit line amounts from $20,000 to $400,000. Of course qualification is subject to the borrower meeting the eligibility requirements.

The only “catch” with this program is the Lender typically requires a full draw of the entire line amount at the closing. (ie. If you are qualified for a $250,000 HELOC, you will be receiving a $250,,000 disbursement at closing.)

Why Is a Home Equity Line of Credit so Valuable to Homeowners?

A HELOC can be a wise financial tool when you use it to improve your house while raising the property value. A HELOC is a second mortgage that is also often referred to as a home equity loan.

find out why so many homeowners love heloc loans.

The difference between a HELOC and a traditional home equity loan is that you are not borrowing an exact, set lump of cash.

You are instead getting a line of credit that you may draw from as you wish.

For instance, you might be approved for a $50,000 home equity line of credit. But you might decide that right now you only need to pull out $10,000.

This would leave you with $40,000 on your home equity line of credit that you can use later if you like.

You also may pay off the equity line of credit as you like, and pull money out again as well, up to your approved line of credit. You can do this as many times as you wish.

In many ways, a home equity line of credit works exactly like a credit card, but your ‘credit line’ is your home’s equity.

It’s a Good Year for Homeowners to take out a HELOC Loan as Rates are Low and closing costs are minimal, in most cases.

As with a home equity loan, an equity line of credit uses your home as the loan’s collateral. You can use the line of credit for many things – home renovations, paying off credit cards, or taking out a HELOC for buying an investment property, for example.

A HELOC loan can be a good choice for you if you have equity you want to draw out, but you do not want to refinance your first mortgage. Refinancing a first mortgage is expensive, takes time, and isn’t a good choice if you have a low interest rate. Before signing the paperwork for a line of credit HELOC, make sure there is no annual fee and no pre-payment penalty. Don’t forget you are permitted to refinance a home equity line of credit if the interest rates improve.

The HELOC is one of the best financial tools for U.S. homeowners. – WSJ 23

A major benefit of the home equity line of credit over the other options is that you only will pay interest on the amount that you actually pull out of the line of credit. This makes the HELOC loan less costly over the long term than a fixed rate home equity loan.

Your home equity line of credit is subordinate to your first mortgage. If you do not pay, the lender on the first mortgage gets paid first. You do not usually need the permission of your first lien holder to get a HELOC loan.

However, the HELOC lender will ask to review your first mortgage paperwork. They want to ensure that you will not have to pay the first mortgage in full if a second mortgage is put on the property; this is called an acceleration clause.

On taxes, the HELOC interest used to be tax deductible up to $100,000 if you are married filing jointly. In many instances that changed in 2024 as HELOC loan interest is no longer always tax-deductible. It is always recommended to consult your tax adviser,

According to the IRS, under the new law, interest on a HELOC or equity loan when used to build an addition to an existing house may still be deductible. However, the interest on the same HELOC used for personal living expenses, such as paying-off credit cards, is not. As under previous law, the home equity loan or HELOC must be secured by the borrower’s primary home or second home.

The home equity line of credit amount cannot exceed the cost of the property and must meet other IRS requirements. We suggest that you should consult with a tax professional to determine what if any of your HELOC interest is tax deductible.

Understanding HELOC Loan Types

There are two types of home equity credit lines:

  • Adjustable or variable rate: Your interest rate can be changed ad may increase. This can be on a monthly, semiannual or annual basis. It will fluctuate based upon future changes in the index rate the mortgage lender uses, such as LIBOR or the prime rate. Your payment each month is based upon the amount outstanding and the current interest rate. You will be paying down the balance bit by bit each month. Many savvy homeowners refinance the HELOC when the variable interest rates begin to rise. In most cases, the borrowers will refinance the HELOC into a fixed home equity loan program.
  • Interest only: The rate on this type of home equity line of credit also can fluctuate. But you are paying interest only payments during the 5-10-year draw period. The interest only payments keeps your payment low, but you are not paying down the principal until the draw period ends and you start the HELOC repayment period.

What Is a Home Equity Line of Credit?

A Home Equity Line of Credit is also referred to as a HELOC. This equity line is a flexible financial tool that enables homeowners to tap into the equity they’ve built in their homes. Unlike a traditional 2nd mortgage, a HELOC functions as a revolving line of credit.

This means that once approved, you can borrow against the equity in your home, repay it, and borrow again as needed. Interest is only incurred on the amount borrowed, and the credit line can be used for various purposes, including home improvements, debt consolidation, or other financial needs.

HELOC loans provide a convenient way to access funds based on the value of your home, offering flexibility and control over your borrowing. If you own a home, you may have the unique opportunity to gain access to a credit line that is secure by your home.

In most cases, the HELOC interest rates are lower than credit cards and you only pay interest on the portion of the home equity line you actually use.

How to Determine Getting a Home Equity Line of Credit

heloc line of creditMost HELOCs consist of a draw period and repayment period.

The majority of home equity lines of credit today are 20 or 30-year loans and have a 10-year draw period.

If you have a 30-year HELOC loan and a 10-year draw, you cannot draw cash from the home equity line after 10 years pass.

You then must pay down your balance in the next 20 years.

Be aware of some equity lines of credit that have a balloon payment at the end.

This is a feature of some interest only home equity credit lines.

You would then be required to pay a large lump sum payment at the end of the loan.

For instance, if you have a 15 year, interest only HELOC line with a balance at the end of $25,000, you need to pay all of that at the end of the 15th year.

It is important for you to understand all of the risks of a home equity line before you sign the paperwork.

People who own their home today are most likely enjoying an increase in their equity position. Home prices are going up and homes are appreciating in value. This increases the equity that a home owner has in the home. It also means that the owner can pull some of that equity out of the property and do some remodeling.

One of the most popular instruments used today to do home remodels is a home equity line or credit. The home equity line of credit is a second mortgage that you get while leaving the first mortgage in place. A HELOC is used to take equity out of the home up to a certain amount; the maximum amount varies by mortgage lender and by state. Some situations allow the home owner to pull up to 80% of the home’s value out, while others may allow 85% or 90%.

Home Equity Loan Versus a HELOC

The HELOC loan is a variable interest line of credit based upon the amount of equity in the home. The lender will give you a HELOC with a certain line of credit, such as $25,000. With the equity line of credit, you can draw that money out of the property whenever you wish, either in small increments or all at once. On the other hand, when an equity loan funds, the borrower receives the money for the entire loan amount all at once. What is a home equity loan?

Checking the Current HELOC Interest Rates

Your interest rate will be based upon the underlying index rate. This could be the monthly or the six-month LIBOR, or the prime rate. On top of that, there will be a margin between 0-3.25%. Some HELOCs may feature a minimum interest rate; most home equity credit lines also have a ceiling rate that it cannot rise above

Some line of credit HELOCs feature a low, intro interest rate; this is called a teaser rate. It may be lower than the current rate for your first mortgage.  But the HELOC rate will go up at the end of the introductory period. It then becomes an adjustable rate that can go up for the rest of the loan’s term. Talk to lenders and compare the best HELOC rates today from trusted home equity lenders.

What are Today’s HELOC Rates?

Generally, home equity loans offered by banks, credit unions and mortgage bankers offer quite low HELOC rates. We recommend that you contact at least three lenders when looking for the best HELOC.  The current HELOC interest rates are about a point and a half higher than traditional 30-year mortgage rates.

What is the Loan to Value Requirement with HELOC Line Accounts

You have to have enough equity to support the combined LTV or loan to value of your first mortgage plus your home equity line of credit. Most mortgage lenders allow a maximum combined loan to value of 80%.

Let’s say your property is worth $200,000. If the balance on your first mortgage is $100,000 and you get a $60,000 home equity line of credit, your combined loan to value is 80%.

Most traditional lenders only allow an 80% LTV combined. Some states also have laws that limit your loan to value at 80%. Some HELOC lenders may allow 90% to 100%. It pays to shop for the best HELOC because lenders have different LTV requirements!

The most important part of a HELOC is your loan to value. You need to have a very good grasp of what your home is worth today before you even apply. You can review sites such as Zillow, Redfin and Realtor.com to get an idea of what your home is worth.

When you make the application, the lender will order a new appraisal. This costs you money. So, it is very important to know up front what the home is likely worth so you know if it is even worth applying. When shopping for the best HELOC lenders and brokers, don’t forget to ask them what the LTV requirement is for HELOCs. Ask the broker or lender if they will waive the HELOC appraisal requirement.

What Do You Need to Secure the Qualification for a HELOC Line?

The guidelines you need to know prior to taking the steps to apply for a HELOC are similar to getting a first mortgage. The focus is on your credit, income and your debt to income ratios. In many instances, the bank or broker will have a minimum credit score for most HELOC programs, so discuss your statistics with the loan officer or bank representative before making plans or big commitments.

Home Equity Loans for People with Credit Scores

Many homeowners need money quickly, and a bad credit HELOC seems like the perfect solution for a borrower with less than perfect credit. However, many homeowners have low credit scores and are unable to qualify for a home equity credit line from their local Credit Union or Bank. In those instances, borrowers should consider a hard money loan or non-prime equity loan. Both options require some equity, but they both all low credit scores.

What Is the Minimum Credit Score Is Needed for HELOC Loans and Credit Lines?

If you have a lower credit score, the lender may put more emphasis on your debt-to-income ratio or DTI. Your DTI measures your total monthly debt payments compared to your gross monthly income.

Minimum Credit Score Requirements for a HELOC

You need decent credit to be approved for a home equity loan. Most home equity lenders give the best rates to people with at least a 700-credit score.

However, you may qualify if your credit is between 620 and 699. Your rate will be higher and the repayment term may be shorter.
If you a credit score below 600, you will need to have at least 25% equity.

Most home equity brokers want a DTI of 40% to 43%. If you have a credit score under 700, having a low DTI may get you approved faster.

Another factor with a lower credit score is how much equity is in the home. Many HELOC lenders want at least 20% equity to borrow money. But if your credit score is well below 700, having more equity will assure the lender that you will pay it back.

The more equity in the home, the less lender risk. Most people are more likely to pay a loan when they have a lot of equity in the home. Remember if you don’t make the payments on time, the lender has the right to foreclose.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of a HELOC Loan?

Should you get a home equity line of credit? Maybe! Here are some advantages and disadvantages:

HELOC Advantages

  • Lower interest rate and payment at first
  • Save money and time compared to refinancing your first mortgage
  • Reduce monthly payments with debt consolidation
  • Draw out only the money you need – save interest
  • You can draw down the HELOC and repay as many times as you wish
  • Lower rate over loan’s life than a first mortgage usually
  • You can use the money for whatever you wish
  • Interest is usually tax deductible (Check 2024 Home Equity Tax Deduction Rules)

HELOC Disadvantages

  • Your rate can go up
  • Payment can go up a lot when you have to start paying principal
  • Extra fees are common – check your paperwork carefully

What You Need to Remember When Considering a Home Equity Credit Line

The HELOC  is the most popular type of home equity loan for good reason. But you should do your homework carefully to determine if it is the right financial tool for you. A HELOC credit line can be great for getting a low interest loan for your home renovations, college education, or paying down debt.

Just remember that the low rate and payment you have up front will not last. It is important to speak with a HELOC lender and tax adviser so you plan financially down the road so that you have the income to make your payments on a timely basis.

How Does an Interest Only HELOC Work?

how to apply for heloc loansA home equity line of credit or HELOC is a very convenient and flexible way to borrow the equity in your home.

A HELOC loan can be a good financial decision if the loan is managed in a prudent way. If you do not do so, however, a home equity line can cause you financial headaches.

Most home equity credit lines allow you to write a check to pay for things such a home improvements and contractors.

To help you to get an interest only HELOC loan and manage it well, we have prepared the following guide.

How to Calculate the Monthly Payment for a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

Borrowers can employ the subsequent two-step method to determine their monthly home equity line payments:

A = P(1+rt)
A = Principal + Interest.
P = Principal.
R = Rate.
T = Time (in years)
Then, take the total amount (A) and divide it by the number of months.
A / # of months = monthly payment.

What Are the HELOC Line Parameters?

A HELOC is flexible 2nd-mortgage with a fixed line of credit that draws upon the equity in your home. HELOCs usually have a variable interest rate, which is based upon a benchmark rate, such as the Fed funds rate, plus a margin of profit for the lender. When interest rates climb, your HELOC loan rates can go up.

Many HELOCs have an interest only payment period, which is typically for the 10-year initial draw period. You are paying only interest on this loan, and are not reducing the principal. Once the draw period is over, you usually are left with a 20 year, fully amortizing loan. At this time, you are paying both principal and interest. So, the interest only portion of the equity line of credit is only temporary.

You also can face a hike in interest rates as it is a variable rate. It is not possible to predict how or when these rises in rates will happen. It is possible for the monthly payment to become too much for you to handle. This can lower your credit score if you are late on payments. Or, you might even lose your home.

It is important to know what the maximum possible interest rate is on your home equity line of credit. All HELOCs have a maximum rate, but if you are paying 5% and the maximum is 10%, your payment could go up massively in a rising rate market.

More About HELOCs with Interest Only Payments

It is worth exploring interest only HELOCs more as these financial products are popular and carry some risk. Most people like to get an interest only home equity line of credit because it is a low-cost way to borrow a lot of money. But in the longer run, this product can cause trouble.

As noted earlier, you will face higher payments once principal payments kick in. Some borrowers also may have to pay a balloon payment after 15 or 20 years. If you are not budgeting for these higher costs, you may have trouble keeping up with payments.

Another aspect is that the principal on the loan remains as long as you pay only interest. The longer you wait to pay on principal, the longer you will be paying interest.

These types of interest only loans got many home owners in trouble in the financial crash of 10 years ago. Interest rates rose, incomes fell, it came time to pay on principal, and many people found out they could not afford their home anymore.

Considerations on Home Equity Credit Lines

Many people like HELOCs because the initial interest rate may be low, and you are often paying only interest on the money, not principal. This type of loan can work well when you are in a low interest rate environment. It also works for home owners who are confident that they will be making more money in the future. For people who have a higher risk tolerance, an interest only HELOC can be a good move.

A HELOC loan can also be a good option if you are confident that you will be selling your home in the next few years.

However, for people whose financial situation is harder to predict, or those who do not like financial risk, a HELOC with interest only may not be the best choice.

There are other options that may work better for you. One is a home equity loan. This is a lump sum pay out of your equity at a fixed interest rate. The rate will be higher than a HELOC and certainly more than an interest only HELOC, but you know exactly what your payment will be every month and when the loan will be paid off.

Another option is a fixed rate home equity line of credit. These are not as common but the best HELOC lenders do offer them.

We are fans of interest only HELOCs when they are used for the right reasons. If you have a very good reason to get the loan, such as for major home improvements or a college education, getting this type of loan makes sense in many cases. It also works for people who are sure they will be earning a lot more in 10 years.

The problems come in when you use an interest only HELOC to pay for things that do not pay you back. If you are using your equity to pay for ‘toys’ that you cannot afford on your salary, this is a bad use of debt. Make sure you are using your equity for things that will pay you back a profit, such as investments or home improvements.

For some, a home equity loan may be a safer bet, as you know exactly what the payments will be and when the loan will be paid off. Remember, your home is your most important asset, and you never want to put it at risk. Are there really $0 interest home improvement loan programs?

Setting Up a HELOC Account

heloc account

If you own your home, you may not continue to enjoy rising home values in 2024.

With higher home prices and rock bottom low interest rates, a good option for many home owners today is to open a home equity line of credit.

HELOC loans are variable interest credit lines that uses some of your home equity to pay for things you want or need.

Home equity lines can get a good financial move for people who are OK with variable rate interest payments.

It also can be a good idea if you have smart uses for the money.

Not everything should be paid for with a HELOC. So, are ready to write checks with your HELOC loan?

Takeaway on the Magnificent HELOC Program

Getting a HELOC loan is a great way to get the money that you need to fund things that you want or need. The interest rate on an equity line of credit is low, but it can rise with time. Also keep in mind that after the draw period ends after 10 years, you have to start paying interest and principal.

Most home equity credit lines have only interest payments at first. But if you have a smart use for the money that will ideally make you money or pay off high interest debt, a flexible HELOC that converts to a fixed rate makes sense. Learn more about how a home equity credit line works and speak with the best HELOC lenders that offer the credit that meets your needs.

References: