Making improvements to your home can be both fulfilling and yet expensive. By doing the project right, it can add many thousands of dollars to the value of your home. Getting the money, however and knowing the best and least expensive way to do it, can be more than a little confusing. One type of mortgage – a home equity line of credit, or HELOC, however, may be just the tool you need to get access to the equity in your home.
What Is A HELOC?
A HELOC is actually a type of second mortgage. An account is opened for you that allows you to get the cash you need. The equity you have in your home, and how much you apply for determine the amount of cash available. The lender will look at your credit report and ability to pay back the mortgage in order to give you a credit limit. Access to the cash is usually given by a credit card or checking account.
How Does It Work?
Instead of giving you the cash of the HELOC in one lump sum, it is put into your account and you are able to draw it out as you need it. There is generally a minimum draw that will need to be made, and a period established during which you can make the draws. This period can be up to about 11 years.
You have the choice about how much and when you want to draw out the money you need for your home improvement projects. If you choose not to use all of it, then that is up to you.
How Are Payments Made?
Payments are made on the interest as you go along. The nice thing here is that you only pay interest on the amount you actually use. Whereas, on a home equity loan, or any other type, you are paying interest on the total amount borrowed. So, if you do not choose to use the whole amount, then that means savings for you.
How Does It Amortize?
A HELOC will usually amortize in one of two ways. The first way is that you start making amortizing payments when the draw period ends. The whole term of the HELOC could be from 15 to 30 years, and the number of years after the draw period is how long you have to pay it off. A second way is that the whole amount may become due at the end of the draw period – as a balloon payment. This would require refinancing in most circumstances. At the end of the repayment, you may or may not have the credit extended to you again – depending on the agreement.
What Other Details Are There?
A HELOC is usually an adjustable rate mortgage. While some are now starting to be
offered as a fixed rate mortgage – most of them are not. You should also be aware that the interest rate is calculated daily in most cases. In addition, there is a “margin” that you need to find out about before you buy.
Making your home improvements with a HELOC can be a great way to tap into your home’s equity. Adding value to your home is a great way to use your HELOC funds, and it is also tax deductible.