Benefits of a HELOC


·         Avoid Mortgage Insurance.

·         Avoid Jumbo costs.

·         Increase buying power.

·         Save in the long term.

·         Tap into additional equity.

HELOC stands for home equity line of credit, or simply "home equity line." It is a loan set up as a line of credit for some maximum draw, rather than for a fixed dollar amount. 

For example, using a standard mortgage you might borrow $150,000, which would be paid out in its entirety at closing. Using a HELOC instead, you receive the lender’s promise to advance you up to $150,000, in an amount and at a time of your choosing. You can draw on the line by writing a check, using a special credit card, or in other ways.

Most HELOCs are second mortgages. An increasing number, however, are first mortgages, as yours would be if you used it to refinance your existing first mortgage. Using a HELOC as a substitute for a first mortgage can save a lot of money in the short-run, but is very risky. 

HELOCs have a draw period, during which the borrower can use the line, and a repayment period during which it must be repaid. Draw periods are usually 5 to 10 years, during which the borrower is only required to pay interest. Repayment periods are usually 10 to 20 years, during which the borrower must make payments to principal equal to the balance at the end of the draw period divided by the number of months in the repayment period. Some HELOCs, however, require that the entire balance be repaid at the end of the draw period, so the borrower must refinance at that point.

Characteristics of HELOCs

Advantages of HELOCs

HELOC's may be beneficial in getting a conforming loan rate as opposed to a Jumbo rate.

HELOCs are convenient for funding intermittent needs, such as paying off credit cards, making home improvements, or paying college tuition. You draw and pay interest on only what you need.

Upfront costs are also relatively low. On a $150,000 standard loan, settlement costs may range from $ 2-5,000, unless the borrower pays an interest rate high enough for the lender to pay some or all of it. On a $150,000 HELOC, costs seldom exceed $1,000 and in many cases are paid by the lender without a rate adjustment.

Interest on a HELOC
Because the balance of a HELOC may change from day to day, depending on draws and repayments, interest on a HELOC is calculated daily rather than monthly. On a 6% HELOC, interest for a day is .06 divided by 365 or .000164, which is multiplied by the average daily balance during the month. If this is $100,000, the daily interest is $16.44, and over a 30-day month interest amounts to $493.15; over a 31 day month, it is $509.59.  In contrast, on a standard 6% mortgage, interest for the month is .06 divided by 12 or .005, multiplied by the loan balance at the end of the preceding month. If the balance is $100,000, the interest payment is $500, regardless of whether there are 30 or 31 days in the month -- or 28.

Don’t compare the APR on a HELOC with the APR on a standard loan because they mean different things. The APR on a HELOC is the interest rate, period. Among other things, it does not reflect points or other upfront costs, as the APR on standard loans does. Requiring lenders to show the interest rate on a HELOC twice is a strange way to protect borrowers, but there it is. See How Do You Shop For a HELOC?

Some HELOCs are convertible into fixed-rate loans at the time of a drawing. This is a useful option for borrowers who draw a large amount at one time.


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