Time to Consider Your Home Equity Line of Credit?
A home equity line of credit is a useful financial tool for homeowners. Unlike a traditional home equity loan, which has a fixed repayment schedule, the line of credit, also known as a HELOC, has a more flexible repayment schedule. It also has a more flexible payout schedule; instead of receiving the money in a lump sum, those who have a HELOC can withdraw funds as needed. If there is no balance, there is no payment due. And when the funds are repaid, they can be borrowed again. The HELOC is a great tool for financing anything that has an ongoing expense, such as a do-it-yourself home remodeling project.
But there are downsides to home equity lines of credit, and one of those is the variable interest rate. Home equity loans, with fixed repayment schedules, have fixed interest rates. A HELOC, with its greater flexibility, does not. As interest rates continue to rise, that could be a problem for homeowners who have a HELOC with a large outstanding balance. The payments will increase, and that could make some homeowners uncomfortable.
What are your options if you have a HELOC and rates are rising? Here are several things that you can consider:
Just keep it - For some, the flexibility of borrowing money when needed and as needed is paramount. If you only borrow against your credit line occasionally and repay fairly promptly, or if you want to keep your HELOC as a source of funds in case of emergency, then you should simply hang on to it. Just be aware that your payments will be higher if rates continue to rise.
Exchange it - Instead of a HELOC, you could take out a traditional home equity loan and pay off the balance of your line of credit with it. You will now have a fixed monthly payment over a fixed period of time. One downside, however, is that you lose the ability to borrow again. To do so, you will have to apply for another loan.
Refinance your house - One other option is to refinance the entire mortgage and include the balance of the line of credit in the amount to be financed. This will reduce the number of payments you need to make each month from two to one and will simplify your finances somewhat. On the other hand, you will now be financing that HELOC money over as long as 30 years, which might not make sense if you used the line of credit to buy something that won't last that long, such as an automobile.
Everyone has different financial needs, which is why lenders offer such a wide variety of loan options. If you are uncertain as to what you should do about your line of credit, you may wish to consult with a lender in order to see which options are right for you.
About the Author: ęCopyright 2006 by Retro Marketing. Charles Essmeier is the owner of Retro Marketing, a firm devoted to informational Websites, including HomeEquityHelp.net, a site devoted to information regarding home equity lines of credit and mortgages.