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Compare Home Equity Loans

December 2021
Results for - December 2021
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Home equity loans offer homeowners the opportunity to tap into their home’s value and use it as cash.
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Home equity loans explained

Home equity loans, also referred to as “second mortgages” are just one of the few ways you can use the equity in your home to receive extra cash that can be used for virtually anything. This type of loan, however, is most often used to pay for large expenses, like home remodeling or debt consolidation.

The amount of the loan depends on your home’s market value, or equity, and how much you’ve paid so far on your mortgage. For example, if your home is valued at $300,000 and you still owe $200,000, the amount of equity you have would be the difference—$100,000. The market value would be decided by an appraiser.

Just as with a regular mortgage, you can get a home equity loan from an online lender or from a bank or credit union. A home equity loan is generally easier to qualify for than other loan types you’re using your home as collateral.

 

Pros and cons

While home equity loans can be a great way to convert your home into cash, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision.

Pros of Home Equity Loans

  • This type of loan is generally easier to qualify for since you’re securing it with your home, which puts less risk on the lender (but more on the borrower).
  • Using your home as collateral also means you’ll be getting lower interest rates than unsecured loans, like credit cards or personal loans.
  • The interest rate is fixed for the duration of the loan, so borrowers don’t have to worry about interest rates going up or down over time.
  • Borrowers have the freedom to use the money for anything, whether it’s home remodeling or purchasing an investment property.
  • Your interest rates can be tax-deductible if the money is used to renovate your current home (the same property being used as collateral on the home equity loan).

Cons of Home Equity Loans

  • Using your home as collateral can be beneficial for the reasons mentioned above, but it can also be very risky for the borrower. If you’re no longer able to make payments on the loan for any reason, you could lose your home.
  • Unlike other types of loans, you’ll have to pay closing costs and other fees for a home equity loan, which can range between 2%-5% of the loan amount.
  • If you pay the loan off early, you may be on the hook to pay early termination fees, depending on the lender.
  • Having a home equity loan means being responsible for having two mortgages and therefore two monthly payments, which would be adding more to your debt.

Understanding your home’s equity

As mentioned earlier, to understand how much equity you have in your home, you’ll need to know how much you still owe on your mortgage and how much your home is currently valued at. When applying for a home equity loan, most lenders will require that you have a minimum of 15%-20% equity.

To determine your home’s value, you’ll need to have your home appraised. This involves hiring a licensed appraiser to conduct a full home inspection. They’ll consider various factors like the condition of your property, upgrades or additions you’ve made, the size of the property, and more to get the appraisal value.

The cost for a home appraisal is anywhere from $200-$600, depending on the size of your home, location, and the home’s condition, among other factors.

Tips on securing the maximum appraisal value

  • Resolve minor fixes: Finishing those minor fixes around the home can be a low-cost and low-effort way to increase the value of your home.
  • Improve curb appeal: Your home’s exterior plays a key role in its overall value since it gives a first impression. There are many affordable ways to improve a home’s curb appeal without breaking the bank or investing a significant amount of time, like clearing clogged gutters, keeping the lawn maintained, and so on.
  • Consider making small cosmetic upgrades: A new layer of paint, replacing old fixtures with new ones, and other small upgrades can make a big impact on the value of your home.
  • Have documentation of your upgrades: Document any updates you make to your property and hang on to contractor invoices. This can be used to show the appraiser the value you’ve added.
  • Clean your home: Ensuring your home is spotless when an appraiser visits will help improve the ranking for your home’s overall condition. A dirty home can affect the appraiser’s perception of the value of your home, so make sure it’s clean.

 

How to find the best home equity loan lenders

While you can take out a home equity loan through traditional lending institutions, like banks and credit unions, expanding your search to also include online-only lenders will help you find the best rates.

While most lenders have a similar set of requirements, like verifiable employment and income, access to tax records, and sufficient equity in your home, other factors will vary from lender to lender, like interest rates, fees, and credit score minimum. Shop around and compare lenders to find the best rates.

 

Recommended home equity loan lending partners

Let’s take a look at a few of our partner lenders currently offering home equity loans at competitive rates.

LendingTree

LendingTree is an online marketplace where you can shop and compare multiple lenders for various types of loans, including home equity loans. How it works is you answer a few questions about yourself, like the type of loan you need, and you’ll be paired with lenders in their network.

SoFi

SoFi has teamed up with Spring EQ to offer home equity loans for borrowers who qualify. Borrowers can receive cash in as few as two weeks and with only four documents needed. They also boast low monthly payments and low-fixed rates.

AmeriSave

AmeriSave is a mortgage lender that offers cash-out mortgage refinancing, which is similar to a home equity loan. This allows you to use the equity of your home to borrow money, but one key difference is that cash-out refinances pays off your existing mortgage and gives you a new one.

 

Home equity loan alternatives

Aside from a home equity loan, there are two other ways to turn your home equity into cash—a home equity line of credit (HELOC) and cash-out refinancing. One key similarity between all three of these options is that you’re using your home as collateral.

HELOC

Similar to a credit card, a HELOC is a revolving line of credit that you can use as needed to borrow against the equity of your home (up to a certain amount). Unlike a home equity loan, HELOCs typically have variable interest rates and the payments aren’t fixed.

Cash-Out Refinance

This is another way to borrow against your home’s available equity. The big difference between a cash-out refinance and a home equity loan or HELOC is that this option involves paying off your existing mortgage, resulting in a new mortgage with different terms, like a different interest rate or monthly payment.