However, you may wonder what the differences between home equity loans and home equity lines of credit are.
When you have a mortgage on your home but the value of the property exceeds the amount owed, the difference between the outstanding debt and the property value is referred as Home Equity. This remaining property value can be used to guarantee another loan: A Home Equity Loan or Line of Credit.
Home Equity Loans are secured loans with a fixed or variable interest rate, a fixed loan amount and a fixed, though negotiable, repayment program. A home equity loan is just like any other loan, only it is secured with the equity you have built on your home and thus carries fewer interests.
A Home Equity Line of Credit on the other hand, comes only with a variable interest rate, there is no fixed loan amount, though there is a credit maximum and the repayment is extremely flexible. The home equity line of credit is also secured on the home equity.
Since both are secured, the interest rate charged is considerably low. Only home equity loans with a fixed rate can have a slightly higher interest. Home equity loans with a variable rate usually carry a somewhat lower interest rate. Home equity lines of credit, on the other hand, carry only a variable interest rate that is usually similar to the home equity loan fixed interest rate.
Home equity loans come with a fixed loan amount that can equal or be a bit higher than the home equity value. Home equity lines of credit are somewhat different: There is no loan amount, a credit maximum amount is set and you can borrow as much money as you need up to that amount. For example: If a $50.000 limit is set you could borrow $10.000 and a month later borrow $20.000 more. And so on till you reach the credit maximum.
Home equity loans come with a fixed repayment schedule which has to be followed strictly with some exceptions. Though, there are in some cases grace periods and waivers you could apply for, if you request a home equity loan you will probably have rigid installments or at least a fixed amount plus a variable amount depending on interest rate variations.
Home equity lines of credit let you repay the amount you owe they way you want to do it. You have an open line of credit where you can borrow and repay as much as you want as long as you do not exceed the credit limit. Moreover, as opposed to home equity loans, lines of credit do not require to be renewed as you can always borrow more as long as there is credit left. If your home equity grows either by an increase on your property value or because of a reduction on your mortgage debt, you can ask for your credit maximum to be recalculated.