Wednesday, September 19, 2007

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 for families 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.
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