Thursday, August 20, 2009

What is Home equity loan?

What is Home equity loan?

A home equity loan (sometimes abbreviated HEL) is a type of loan in which the borrower uses the equity in their home as collateral. These loans are sometimes useful to help finance major home repairs, medical bills or college education. A home equity loan creates a lien against the borrower's house, and reduces actual home equity.

Home equity loans are most commonly second position liens (second trust deed), although they can be held in first or, less commonly, third position. Most home equity loans require good to excellent credit history, and reasonable loan-to-value and combined loan-to-value ratios. Home equity loans come in two types, closed end and open end.

Both are usually referred to as second mortgages, because they are secured against the value of the property, just like a traditional mortgage. Home equity loans and lines of credit are usually, but not always, for a shorter term than first mortgages. In the United States, it is sometimes possible to deduct home equity loan interest on one's personal income taxes.

There is a specific difference between a home equity loan and a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). A HELOC is a line of revolving credit with an adjustable interest rate whereas a home equity loan is a one time lump-sum loan, often with a fixed interest rate.

When considering a loan, the borrower should be familiar with the terms recourse and non recourse loan, secured and unsecured debt, and dischargeable and non-dischargeable debt.

US traditional mortgages are usually non recourse loans. "Nonrecourse debt or a nonrecourse loan is a secured loan (debt) that is secured by a pledge of collateral, typically real property, but for which the borrower is not personally liable." A US home equity loan may be a recourse loan for which the borrower is personally liable. This distinction becomes important in foreclosure since the borrower may remain personally liable for a recourse debt on a foreclosed property.

Home equity loans are secured loans. "The debt is thus secured against the collateral — in the event that the borrower defaults, the creditor takes possession of the asset used as collateral and may sell it to satisfy the debt by regaining the amount originally lent to the borrower." Credit card debt is an unsecured debt such that no asset has been pledged as collateral for the loan. Using a home equity loan to pay off credit card debt essentially converts an unsecured debt to a secured debt.

When deciding upon a type of loan, the borrower should also consider if the debt is dischargeable in bankruptcy. For instance, US student loans are "practically non-dischargeable in bankruptcy".

Closed end home equity loan

The borrower receives a lump sum at the time of the closing and cannot borrow further. The maximum amount of money that can be borrowed is determined by variables including credit history, income, and the appraised value of the collateral, among others. It is common to be able to borrow up to 100% of the appraised value of the home, less any liens, although there are lenders that will go above 100% when doing over-equity loans. However, state law governs in this area; for example, Texas (which was, for many years, the only state to not allow home equity loans) only allows borrowing up to 80% of equity.

Closed-end home equity loans generally have fixed rates and can be amortized for periods usually up to 15 years. Some home equity loans offer reduced amortization whereby at the end of the term, a balloon payment is due. These larger lump-sum payments can be avoided by paying above the minimum payment or refinancing the loan.

In other words , Closed end means there will be an end date for the loan. No future draws under that loan will occur.

Open end home equity loan

This is a revolving credit loan, also referred to as a home equity line of credit, where the borrower can choose when and how often to borrow against the equity in the property, with the lender setting an initial limit to the credit line based on criteria similar to those used for closed-end loans. Like the closed-end loan, it may be possible to borrow up to 100% of the value of a home, less any liens. These lines of credit are available up to 30 years, usually at a variable interest rate. The minimum monthly payment can be as low as only the interest that is due.

Typically, the interest rate is based on the Prime rate plus a margin.

Home equity loan fees

Here is a brief list of possible fees that may apply to your home equity loan: Appraisal fees, originator fees, title fees, stamp duties, arrangement fees, closing fees, early pay-off and other costs are often included in loans. Surveyor and conveyor or valuation fees may also apply to loans, some may be waived. The survey or conveyor and valuation costs can often be reduced, provided you find your own licensed surveyor to inspect the property considered for purchase. The title charges in secondary mortgages or equity loans are often fees for renewing the title information. Most loans will have fees of some sort, so make sure you read and ask several questions about the fees that are charged.

Home Equity Loan Credit

Home Equity Loan Credit

A home equity line of credit (often called HELOC and pronounced HEE-lock) is a loan in which the lender agrees to lend a maximum amount within an agreed period (called a term), where the collateral is the borrower's equity in his/her house.

Differences from conventional loans

A HELOC differs from a conventional home equity loan in that the borrower is not advanced the entire sum up front, but uses a line of credit to borrow sums that total no more than the credit limit, similar to a credit card. HELOC funds can be borrowed during the "draw period" (typically 5 to 25 years). Repayment is of the amount drawn plus interest. A HELOC may have a minimum monthly payment requirement (often "interest only"); however, the debtor may make a repayment of any amount so long as it is greater than the minimum payment (but less than the total outstanding). The full principal amount is due at the end of the draw period, either as a lump-sum balloon payment or according to a loan amortization schedule.

Another important difference from a conventional loan is that the interest rate on a HELOC is variable. The interest rate is generally based on an index, such as the prime rate. This means that the interest rate can change over time. Homeowners shopping for a HELOC must be aware that not all lenders calculate the margin the same way. The margin is the difference between the prime rate and the interest rate the borrower will actually pay.

HELOC loans became very popular in the United States in the early 2000s, in part because interest paid was (and is) typically (depending on specific circumstances) deductible under federal and many state income tax laws.[citation needed] This effectively reduced the cost of borrowing funds and offered an attractive tax incentive over traditional methods of borrowing (such as credit card debt). Another reason for the popularity of HELOCs is their flexibility, both in terms of borrowing and repaying on a schedule determined by the borrower. Furthermore, HELOC loans' popularity growth may also stem from their having a better image than a "second mortgage," a term which can more directly imply an undesirable level of debt. Of course, within the lending industry itself, a HELOC is categorized as a second mortgage.

Because the underlying collateral of a home equity line of credit is the home, failure to repay the loan or meet loan requirements may result in foreclosure. As a result, lenders generally require that the borrower maintain a certain level of equity in the home as a condition of providing a home equity line.

Traditional mortgages are usually non recourse loans. "Nonrecourse debt or a nonrecourse loan is a secured loan (debt) that is secured by a pledge of collateral, typically real property, but for which the borrower is not personally liable. "A HELOC may be a recourse loan for which the borrower is personally liable. This distinction becomes important in foreclosure since the borrower may remain personally liable for a recourse debt on a foreclosed property.

HELOC freeze

In 2008 major home equity lenders including Bank of America, Countrywide Financial, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, National City Mortgage, Washington Mutual and Wells Fargo began informing borrowers that their home equity lines of credit had been frozen, reduced, suspended, rescinded or restricted in some other manner. Falling housing prices have led to borrowers possessing reduced equity, which is perceived as an increased risk of foreclosure in the eyes of lenders.