HELOC Vs. Home Equity Loan: Which Is Best For You?

HELOC Vs. Home Equity Loan Which Is Best For You

A Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) and a Home Equity Loan are two ways property owners can borrow against the equity of their homes. Although the concept of borrowing for the two loans is the same, they are quite different in application.

Let’s take a closer look at what these two types of loans are. If you need a HELOC or a Home Equity Loan, as a leading mortgage broker, The Mortgage Shop can help you secure these second home loans from lenders with the best rates possible. 

For more information, schedule a call with a mortgage consultant from The Mortgage Shop today.

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

What is a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

A Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) is a type of revolving credit secured by the equity in a homeowner’s primary residence. Unlike a conventional loan that provides a lump sum of money upfront, a HELOC offers a credit line that homeowners can draw from as needed, up to a predetermined limit. 

This makes HELOCs a flexible option for borrowers who may have ongoing financial needs, such as home improvements, educational expenses, or consolidating high-interest debt. The borrowing period, known as the draw period, typically lasts for 5 to 10 years, during which the borrower can access funds, repay them, and borrow again.

Interest rates on HELOCs are usually variable, tied to a publicly available interest rate index plus a lender’s margin. This means the interest rate can fluctuate over the life of the line of credit. 

During the draw period, borrowers are often only required to make payments on the interest on the amount drawn, although they can also pay on the principal if they choose. Following the draw period, the HELOC enters the repayment phase, where no further borrowing is allowed, and the borrower must start repaying both the principal and the interest over a set term. 

Home Equity Loan

What is a Home Equity Loan

A Home Equity Loan is a type of loan where the borrower uses the equity of their home as collateral. It is commonly referred to as a second mortgage. Home Equity Loans provide the borrower with a lump sum of money upfront, which is then repaid over a fixed period at a fixed interest rate. 

The amount of the loan is based on the difference between the homeowner’s equity in the home and the home’s current market value. This type of loan is a popular choice for homeowners who need a specific amount of money for a one-time expense, such as a major home renovation, consolidating high-interest debt, or funding a significant life event like a wedding or college tuition.

The repayment terms for a Home Equity Loan usually range from 5 to 30 years, and because the loan comes with a fixed interest rate, the monthly payments (including both principal and interest) remain the same throughout the life of the loan. 

This predictability makes budgeting easier for borrowers, as they know exactly how much they need to pay each month. 

HELOC Vs. Home Equity Loan: Five Key Differences

When comparing a Home Equity Loan vs. a HELOC, several key differences can influence the decision on which financial product best suits your needs. Here are five distinctions:

1. Loan Structure and Disbursement:

  • HELOC: Offers a revolving line of credit, allowing homeowners to borrow, repay, and borrow again up to a certain limit during the draw period. This structure provides flexibility for homeowners who might have ongoing or future funding needs.
  • Home Equity Loan: Provides a lump sum of money upfront. This is suitable for homeowners who have a specific project or expense in mind and need all the funds at once.

2. Interest Rates:

  • HELOC: Typically comes with a variable interest rate that can change over time based on market conditions. This means monthly payments can fluctuate, potentially making budgeting more challenging.
  • Home Equity Loan: Offers a fixed interest rate, ensuring that monthly payments remain constant over the life of the loan, which can make financial planning easier.

3. Repayment Terms:

  • HELOC: Features a draw period during which the borrower can access funds, followed by a repayment period. During the draw period, payments may be interest-only, transitioning to principal and interest payments during the repayment period.
  • Home Equity Loan: Requires regular, consistent payments of both principal and interest from the beginning of the loan term, simplifying the repayment process but lacking the flexibility a HELOC offers during the early stages.

4. Usage and Flexibility:

  • HELOC: Because it functions as a line of credit, a HELOC is particularly well-suited for expenses that occur over time, such as ongoing home improvement projects, education costs, or as an emergency fund.
  • Home Equity Loan: This is best suited for large, one-time expenses where the total cost is known upfront, such as consolidating debt under a single, fixed interest rate, or significant home renovations.

5. Risk and Predictability:

  • HELOC: The variable interest rate introduces a degree of unpredictability to monthly payments, which can be a risk if interest rates rise significantly. However, the flexibility in borrowing only what’s needed can be a significant advantage.
  • Home Equity Loan: Offers more predictability thanks to fixed payments, but borrowing a large lump sum means paying interest on the entire amount from the start, which can be a downside if the full sum is only sometimes needed.

Home Equity Loan Vs. HELOC: Which Loan is Right For You?

So, HELOC vs. Home Equity Loan, which one should you go for? This will ultimately depend on your financial needs, risk tolerance, and how you plan to use the funds. A Home Equity Loan might be the right choice if you have a one-time, large expense with a fixed cost, such as a home renovation project, paying off high-interest debt, or covering a significant one-off event.

A Home Equity Loan’s fixed interest rate provides the security of predictable monthly payments, making budgeting easier over the long term. This loan type is suitable for those who prefer stability and are perhaps more risk-averse, especially if they need a certain amount of money upfront and are comfortable with a set repayment schedule.

On the other hand, a HELOC is more flexible. They are like a credit card that allows you to borrow what you need up to the credit limit. This is ideal for ongoing expenses or projects where costs may vary over time, such as phased home improvements. 

The variable interest rate of a HELOC can lead to fluctuating monthly payments, which might suit individuals who are comfortable with a certain level of financial variability and believe they can manage payments even if interest rates rise. 

This option is also appealing if you want the ability to reuse the credit as it is repaid. Therefore it offers a safety net or financial cushion without the need to reapply for another loan. 

Secure a Second Home Loan With The Mortgage Shop Today

The difference between a HELOC and a Home Equity Loan is an important aspect for homeowners considering leveraging their home equity. The Mortgage Shop can guide you through this decision. 

As a leading mortgage broker, The Mortgage Shop specializes in offering personalized mortgage solutions. We help you find the perfect product to meet your financial needs, whether that’s securing a loan for a second home or tapping into your home’s equity. 

We’ll demystify the borrowing process for you so that you have a deeper understanding of the pros and cons of each option. This is done through The Mortgage Shop Academy, a service we provide for all our clients.

Would you like to secure a home loan? Begin the process by contacting one of our mortgage consultants today.

Frequently Asked Questions About HELOC Vs. Home Equity Loan

Disadvantages of a HELOC include variable interest rates, which can lead to fluctuating payment amounts that may rise significantly. This unpredictability can make budgeting difficult. Additionally, because a HELOC uses your home as collateral, there's a risk of foreclosure if you cannot make the payments.

Whether there's a better option than a HELOC depends on individual financial needs and circumstances. For those needing a specific amount with predictable repayments, a home equity loan might be better. Personal loans or credit cards could be alternatives for smaller, short-term financing, albeit often at higher interest rates.

HELOC stands for Home Equity Line of Credit, providing a revolving credit line based on home equity. HEA, less commonly referred to, might mean Home Equity Account or Loan, essentially another term for a home equity loan, which gives a lump sum based on home equity. The terms and specifics can vary by lender.

A HELOC is typically paid back in two phases: the draw period and the repayment period. During the draw period, borrowers can withdraw funds up to their credit limit and may make payments on the interest only. During the repayment period, borrowers cannot withdraw additional funds and must make payments on both the principal and interest.

Yes, you can typically pay off a HELOC early without penalty, but it's important to review your lender's terms. Early repayment can reduce the total interest paid over the life of the line of credit.

The time to get a HELOC can vary widely by lender but generally takes from 2 to 6 weeks from funding application. This timeframe includes the approval process, appraisal, and closing.

HELOC terms can vary, but they generally include a draw period of 5 to 10 years followed by a repayment period of 10 to 20 years, making the total term potentially up to 30 years.

A HELOC works by allowing homeowners to borrow against the equity in their homes. It operates much like a credit card, providing a credit line that can be drawn from as needed, with interest accruing only on the amount borrowed. There is a set limit based on the home's equity, and during the draw period, minimum payments can be as low as interest only.

Yes, a HELOC counts as debt. It's considered a secured debt since it is backed by your home's equity. Like any form of debt, it affects your credit score and debt-to-income ratio, factors that lenders consider in future credit applications.

The credit score needed for a HELOC can vary by lender, but most require a credit score of 620 or higher. Some lenders may offer HELOCs to borrowers with lower scores but at higher interest rates or with less favorable terms.

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.