Home Equity Loans Versus Lines of Credit: What's the Difference?

Thinking of tapping the equity in your home to do a renovation, buy a second home, or consolidate debt? Before you decide which borrowing option is right for you, it's important to understand the main differences between the two options.

home loan.png

Comparison Shop

Both types of credit are sometimes referred to as "second mortgages," because, like your first mortgage, they are secured by your property.

Home equity loans are fixed, installment loans. They work more like a mortgage -- you borrow a determined amount for a specific term with a fixed rate of interest. Regular installment payments are made each month for a set amount. Once you receive the lump sum check, you cannot borrow additional funds.

HELOCs are revolving, borrow-as you-go arrangements. They act more like a credit card in that you borrow as you need the money and pay off your balance according to the interest rate being charged, which is variable, and the amount of credit you have used. The term of the credit line is determined by the lender and may be extended/renewed at the lender's discretion. When the term expires, the credit line must be paid in full.

Both home equity loans and HELOCs must be settled with the lender if and when you sell your home.


Match the Type of Loan to Your Need

Generally the choice between the two types of credit depends on your intended use for the money and your time frame for repayment. For instance, if you have a set amount in mind for a specific expense - a wedding, a new septic system or roof -- and you have no further foreseeable expenses, then a fixed rate home equity loan makes sense. If however, your needs are more open-ended -- a major home renovation that will span a year or two, or to supplement a child's college tuition each year for the next four years -- then the more flexible HELOC could be the better option.


Used for Debt Management

Perhaps one of the most popular reasons homeowners tap into the equity in their homes via a loan or a line of credit is to consolidate credit card debt. While recent conditions in the housing market may have deterred some from considering this option, generally speaking, home equity is one of the lowest cost loan options, and unlike credit card debt, the interest paid on home equity loans and HELOCs is tax deductible.

To learn more about tapping home equity or to access current rate tables, visit a consumer-oriented website such as bankrate.com.


Required Attribution

Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by Wealth Management Systems Inc. or its sources, neither Wealth Management Systems Inc. nor its sources guarantees the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from the use of such information. In no event shall Wealth Management Systems Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber's or others' use of the content. 

© 2015 Wealth Management Systems Inc. All rights reserved.


Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.


The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.