Cash Out Refinance Vs. HELOC


Choosing the right type of mortgage for a home purchase or an invetment property goes beyond personal preference. If you are a homebuyer or a property investor, it’s important to recognize that the right mortgage is a strategic financial decision that sets the precedence for your real estate endeavors.

As an investor or a homebuyer, given the choice of a cash-out refinance versus a HELOC, which one would you go for?  What mortgage type is better for your property? 

Let’s break down the two loan types and try to understand them a little better. The Mortgage Shop provides homebuyers and investors with various loan resources. Are you in the market for an investment mortgage? Do you want a loan to purchase your second home? Have you thought about refinancing? Get a quick pre-approval from The Mortgage Shop today. 

What is Cash Out Refinance?

Cash Out Refinance involves replacing an existing mortgage with a new loan that exceeds the current owed amount, thereby enabling the borrower to access the difference in cash. Unlike conventional mortgage loans, which are primarily utilized for purchasing property, cash-out refinance allows individuals to leverage the equity accrued in their property. The equity, a result of the property’s appreciation in value and the reduction of the mortgage balance over time, becomes a liquid asset. 

This method is particularly attractive in investment mortgages, where the extracted cash can be reinvested into home improvements, additional property acquisitions, or other investment ventures, effectively broadening the investor’s portfolio and potential for growth.

The mechanics of cash-out refinance involve a series of steps: evaluation of the property’s current market value, determination of the existing equity, and the subsequent approval and issuance of a new mortgage loan that covers the original mortgage balance and the desired cash amount. 

The key features of this refinancing option include the ability to convert home equity into cash, the potential for a new loan with different terms, and the opportunity to secure potentially better interest rates. However, it’s imperative to acknowledge that this financial strategy can lead to increased debt, higher interest rates, and additional closing costs. 

Benefits of Cash Out Refinance

1. Access to Liquid Capital: A primary benefit of Cash Out Refinance is the accessibility it provides to liquid capital. This aspect is particularly advantageous for property investors and homeowners who have accumulated substantial equity in their properties.

By tapping into this equity, they gain direct access to funds that can be deployed for various purposes, such as investing in additional properties, renovating existing ones, or diversifying their investment portfolios. This benefit stands out in comparison to other financing options, as it unlocks the potential of an otherwise non-liquid asset.

2. Potential for Lower Interest Rates: Cash Out Refinance offers the possibility of securing a loan with a lower interest rate compared to other types of consumer debt, such as credit cards or personal loans. 

This potential for reduced interest rates is especially pertinent in a favorable economic climate where mortgage rates are comparatively low. By consolidating high-interest debt into a mortgage with a lower rate, borrowers can realize significant savings over the life of the loan.

3. Debt Consolidation Opportunities: Another key advantage of Cash Out Refinance is its role in debt consolidation. Borrowers can use the cash obtained to pay off higher-interest debts, such as credit cards or personal loans, consolidating their debts into a single, more manageable payment. This consolidation not only simplifies the borrower’s financial obligations but also can lead to lower overall interest payments and improved credit scores over time.

4. Tax Deductibility of Interest: Under certain circumstances, the interest paid on a Cash Out Refinance loan may be tax-deductible, especially if the borrowed funds are used for home improvement or investment purposes. This tax benefit can provide additional financial savings, although it is essential for borrowers to consult with tax professionals to understand the specific implications based on their situation.

5. Home Improvement and Value Enhancement: Cash Out Refinance provides an excellent opportunity for homeowners to finance home improvements, renovations, or expansions. Investing in home upgrades not only enhances the living experience but can also significantly increase the property’s market value. This increase in value can be particularly beneficial for future resale or rental income prospects, making it a strategic move for long-term property investors.

Drawbacks of Cash Our Refinance

1. Increased Debt Burden: One of the most significant drawbacks of Cash Out Refinance is the increase in the total debt burden. By opting for this refinancing option, borrowers are essentially taking on more debt than their original mortgage. 

This increase in debt extends the repayment period and potentially increases the total amount of interest paid over the life of the loan. Borrowers must assess their ability to manage this increased debt, especially in the context of their long-term financial stability.

2. Risk of Higher Interest Rates: While Cash Out Refinance can offer lower interest rates in some cases, there is also the risk of securing a loan at a higher interest rate than the original mortgage, particularly in fluctuating economic environments. A higher interest rate results in larger monthly payments and a greater overall financial commitment, which could strain the borrower’s budget.

3. Closing Costs and Fees: Engaging in Cash Out Refinance involves various closing costs and fees, similar to those incurred during the initial mortgage process. These costs can include appraisal fees, origination fees, and other administrative expenses. These additional expenses need to be carefully considered, as they can add up to a significant amount and impact the overall financial benefit of the refinance.

4. Potential for Negative Equity: The act of withdrawing equity from a property through cash-out refinance reduces the homeowner’s stake in the property. In a market where property values decline, this could lead to negative equity, where the homeowner owes more on the mortgage than the property’s market value. This situation can pose a significant risk, especially if the homeowner plans to sell the property or refinance again in the future.

5. Impact on Credit Score: Initiating a cash-out refinance can impact the borrower’s credit score. The process involves a hard inquiry into the borrower’s credit history and increases the total amount of debt they carry, both of which can temporarily lower their credit score. A reduced credit score can affect the borrower’s ability to secure other forms of credit and may influence future borrowing costs.

What is a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)?

A Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) allows homeowners to borrow against the equity in their property up to a certain limit, and repay and reborrow as needed. This flexibility makes HELOC a compelling option for property investors and homeowners who require ongoing access to funds. 

A HELOC provides a dynamic financial resource, enabling borrowers to draw funds for various purposes, such as property improvements, investment diversification, or covering unexpected expenses. The ability to access funds up to a pre-approved limit and over a specified draw period, often with interest-only payment options during this period, underlines the fluidity and adaptability of HELOC in contrast to the lump-sum nature of traditional mortgage loans.

Benefits of HELOC

1. Flexible Access to Funds: One of the primary benefits of a HELOC is its flexibility in accessing funds. Unlike traditional loans that provide a lump sum, a HELOC functions as a revolving line of credit. Borrowers can draw from this credit line as needed, up to the approved limit, during the draw period. This flexibility is particularly advantageous for ongoing projects or expenses, where the total required amount might be uncertain or spread out over time.

2. Control Over Borrowed Amount: With a HELOC, borrowers have significant control over the amount they choose to borrow. They can decide to use as much or as little of the credit line as needed, subject to the maximum limit. This control allows for more precise management of debt, as borrowers only take on what is necessary, potentially leading to more efficient financial management and reduced interest payments.

3. Interest-Only Payment Options: During the draw period of a HELOC, many lenders offer the option of making interest-only payments. This feature provides borrowers with a lower payment option, enhancing cash flow management, especially during periods of financial adjustment or when the borrowed funds are being used to generate additional income or value.

4. Potentially Lower Interest Rates: HELOCs often come with lower interest rates compared to other forms of credit, such as credit cards or unsecured personal loans. The secured nature of the loan, backed by home equity, typically allows for these more favorable rates. Lower interest rates mean reduced cost of borrowing, making HELOC an attractive option for homeowners looking to finance large expenses.

5. Tax Deductible Interest: The interest paid on a HELOC may be tax-deductible if the funds are used for home improvement or other qualifying purposes. This potential tax benefit can result in additional financial savings, although borrowers need to consult with a tax professional to understand their specific circumstances and eligibility.

Disadvantages of HELOC

1. Variable Interest Rates: A primary drawback of HELOCs is their typically variable interest rates. Unlike fixed-rate loans, the interest rates on HELOCs can fluctuate over time, based on prevailing market conditions. This variability can lead to uncertainty in monthly payments, potentially increasing significantly if interest rates rise. For borrowers who prefer predictable, stable payments, this aspect of HELOCs presents a notable risk, potentially impacting budgeting and financial planning.

2. Risk of Overspending: The flexible nature of a HELOC, while advantageous, also carries the risk of overspending. The ease of accessing funds up to the approved limit can lead to impulsive or unnecessary expenditures. Borrowers might find themselves using the available credit for expenses that do not add value to their property or financial status, leading to an increase in debt that might not be sustainable in the long term.

3. Potential for Foreclosure: As a HELOC is secured against the borrower’s home, failing to make timely repayments can have severe consequences, including the risk of foreclosure. This risk is a crucial factor to consider, especially for borrowers whose financial situation might be subject to change. The security of the borrower’s home as collateral makes it imperative to manage a HELOC with strict financial discipline.

4. Fluctuating Payments During Repayment Period: After the draw period ends, borrowers enter a repayment period during which they must repay the principal amount borrowed. If substantial funds have been drawn, this can lead to significantly higher monthly payments during the repayment period compared to the draw period. This shift can be challenging to manage, especially if the borrower has not adequately planned for these increased payments.

5. Complex Product Structure and Terms: HELOCs can have complex terms and product structures, which might be challenging for some borrowers to understand fully. Issues such as the structure of the draw and repayment periods, the method of interest calculation, and the implications of a potential interest rate cap are critical to comprehend. A lack of understanding can lead to unexpected financial obligations or an inability to maximize the benefits of the HELOC.

Comparing Cash-Out Refinance and HELOC

Both options provide avenues to leverage property equity, yet they differ significantly in terms of interest rates, repayment terms, loan-to-value ratios, and tax implications. 

Interest Rates and Their Effects

  • Cash Out Refinance typically offers fixed interest rates, providing predictability and stability in monthly payments. This fixed-rate aspect is particularly appealing for long-term planning, as it shields borrowers from market fluctuations. However, if market rates fall, borrowers may find themselves locked into a higher rate unless they refinance again.
  • In contrast, HELOCs generally come with variable interest rates. This means monthly payments can fluctuate over time, depending on prevailing market rates. While this can result in lower rates initially, it also introduces uncertainty, as rates could increase, leading to higher payments in the future.

Repayment Terms and Structures

  • Cash Out Refinance involves resetting the mortgage with new terms, often extending the loan’s lifespan. Borrowers receive a lump sum and start making payments on the new loan amount immediately, with a consistent payment schedule over the loan term.
  • HELOC offers a different structure, typically featuring a draw period during which borrowers can access funds and make interest-only payments, followed by a repayment period where both principal and interest are due. This structure provides flexibility during the draw period but can lead to significant payment increases once the repayment period begins.

Loan-to-Value Ratios and Equity Requirements

  • Both cash-out refinance and HELOC require sufficient home equity. However, cash-out refinance usually allows a lower loan-to-value ratio compared to HELOCs, meaning homeowners can borrow less against their home’s equity. This conservative borrowing limit can be a safeguard against over-leveraging.
  • HELOCs often permit higher loan-to-value ratios, offering access to a larger portion of the home’s equity. While this provides more funds, it also increases the risk of negative equity if property values decline.

Tax Implications

  • For cash-out refinance, the interest may be tax-deductible if the funds are used for home improvements. However, the recent tax law changes have altered the deductibility of interest, making it crucial for borrowers to consult tax professionals.
  • Similarly, the tax deductibility of HELOC interest also hinges on whether the funds are used to “buy, build, or substantially improve” the taxpayer’s home that secures the loan. As tax laws continue to evolve, understanding current regulations is key.

How to Choose Between Cash Out Refinance and HELOC

A choice between cash-out refinance and HELOC should be guided by an individual’s financial situation, plans, and the specific characteristics of each option. When considering cash-out refinance, the primary factors to evaluate are the stability of interest rates and the need for a substantial lump sum. 

This option is more suitable for those who prefer predictable, fixed monthly payments and have a specific, large financial requirement, such as a major home renovation or paying off high-interest debt. The fixed nature of the loan offers a sense of security, especially in an environment of rising interest rates. 

However, it’s important to consider that refinancing resets the mortgage, potentially extending the term and increasing the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Thus, cash-out refinance is ideal for borrowers who require immediate, substantial funding and are comfortable with a longer mortgage term.

In contrast, HELOC suits those seeking flexibility and ongoing access to funds. The revolving credit line allows borrowers to withdraw money as needed, making it ideal for expenses that occur over time, such as tuition fees or phased home improvement projects. The variable interest rate of a HELOC can be a double-edged sword; it may start lower than a typical mortgage rate, but it can increase over time. 

This option is best for individuals who are financially capable of managing fluctuating payments and who may not require the full equity amount immediately. Additionally, the ability to make interest-only payments during the draw period offers a reprieve from substantial financial outlays, beneficial for those who anticipate an increase in income or financial stability soon.

In choosing between cash-out refinance and HELOC, it’s crucial to consider long-term financial goals, current and future income stability, comfort with variable interest rates, and the specific purpose of the borrowed funds. 

Consulting with a mortgage broker can provide valuable insights tailored to one’s unique financial circumstances, ensuring a well-informed decision that supports both current needs and long-term financial health. This decision-making process is not just about accessing equity; it’s about strategically leveraging one’s financial assets in a way that aligns with personal financial planning and goals.

Finance Your Property With The Mortgage Shop

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Our Mortgage Academy aims to deepen your understanding of your investment’s financial aspects enabling informed loan-related decisions. The Mortgage Shop team will guide you to a loan that matches your specific needs, promoting your financial growth and stability. For more information about mortgage acquisitions, schedule a consultation with a mortgage expert today.

FAQs: Cash Out Refinance Vs. HELOC

What is the difference between HELOC and cash-out refinance?

The key difference lies in their structure and purpose. A cash-out refinance replaces your existing mortgage with a new loan that is larger than the owed amount, allowing you to access the difference in cash. It offers a lump sum, usually with a fixed interest rate. 

A HELOC, or Home Equity Line of Credit, is a revolving credit line that lets you borrow against your home equity as needed, with a variable interest rate. While cash-out refinance is ideal for those needing a large amount at once, HELOC offers flexibility for those requiring funds over time.

What are the disadvantages of a cash-out refinance?

Disadvantages include a potentially higher interest rate compared to the original mortgage, increased debt burden due to a larger loan amount, and the possibility of extending the loan term, which can increase the total interest paid. Additionally, refinancing involves closing costs and fees, adding to the expense of obtaining the new mortgage.

What is the difference between an equity loan and a HELOC?

An equity loan, often called a home equity loan, provides a lump sum of money borrowed against the equity in your home with a fixed interest rate and repayment term. In contrast, a HELOC is a line of credit that allows you to draw funds up to a certain limit, with a variable interest rate. The HELOC offers more flexibility in borrowing and repaying, while an equity loan is more static and predictable.

How does a HELOC work?

A HELOC works as a revolving line of credit, allowing homeowners to borrow against their home equity. The lender sets a credit limit based on the equity amount. During the draw period, you can borrow up to this limit and make interest-only payments. After the draw period ends, the repayment period begins, where you pay back the borrowed principal with interest.

Is cash-out refinance a good idea?

A cash-out refinance can be a good idea if you need a substantial lump sum for a specific purpose, such as home renovations or debt consolidation, and if the new loan offers a favorable interest rate. It’s important to consider the increased debt burden and ensure that the refinanced loan aligns with your long-term financial goals.

What happens when you refinance a HELOC?

Refinancing a HELOC usually means paying off the existing HELOC with a new loan, which could be another HELOC with better terms or a different type of loan, like a home equity loan or a cash-out refinance. This process can offer lower interest rates or more favorable terms, but it also involves reassessing your financial situation and potentially incurring additional closing costs.

Can I withdraw cash from a HELOC?

Yes, you can withdraw cash from a HELOC up to the credit limit set by the lender. This flexibility allows you to access funds as needed during the draw period, making it a convenient option for ongoing expenses or projects.

How is a HELOC paid back?

A HELOC is paid back in two phases: the draw period and the repayment period. During the draw period, you may be required to make interest-only payments on the amount drawn. After the draw period ends, the repayment period begins, where you pay back the principal amount borrowed along with interest. This repayment is usually done in monthly installments over a set term defined by the lender.

Brenna Carles

Brenna Carles

I help people who want a place to call their home, where memories can be made, and stories to be shared. Where i can help clients build generational wealth for years to come. I provide the perfect combination of southern hospitality and relentless knowledge and passion for mortgage lending as if you were family.