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What Exactly is a Home Equity Loan, Anyway?

Jan 23, 2008
Did your neighbor just update his or her home and when you asked how they could afford it they stated that they did it all with a home equity loan? If so, you may be wondering exactly what a home equity loan is. Do not worry, many people are like you, they have heard the term and they think they have a general understanding but they just are not quite sure. A home equity loan is essentially a loan where the borrower uses the equity in their home as collateral.

More About Home Equity Loans

Home equity loans are not for everyone, but if you need cash for major home repairs, to update your home, to pay medical bills, or even pay for a college education this is a great option. A home equity loan will effectively create a lien again the home, which means that you cannot sell the home without paying off the loan first. When you have this type of loan again your home you are reducing the actual equity in the home because you have borrowed against it.

Home equity loans are often referred to as HEL and they are quite common today. Many homeowners use them to pay unexpected bills or simply to make their home a more comfortable one to live in. If you have a home and you have a decent credit history chances are that you will receive a lot of offers to take one of these loans out. While this type of loan should never be used for play money it is a great option to have when you do need funds on short notice.

To be approved for a home equity loan you will need to have a good to outstanding credit history. You will also be required by most lenders to home a reasonable income to debt ratio, which means that you can afford to pay your bills based on the amount of money that you make and the amount of debt that you are already paying on. When you do apply for a home equity loan you will find that there are two different varieties, which are closed end and open-end home equity loans.

Both the open ended and closed end home equity loans are often referred to as second mortgages. The reason that they are called second mortgages is because the loans are secured with the property just like your typical mortgage is. While they are called second mortgages home equity loans do not usually have as long a term as the traditional mortgage, though there are exception.

The nice thing about these loans is that you may be able to deduct the interest on the income tax, offsetting what you are spending on interest. Home equity loans really do come in useful in a lot of situations, though they need to be carefully considered because they are not without risk since they are secured against your home and if you do not pay than action can be taken against your home.
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