Using Home Equity Lines of Credit as Bridge Loans

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If you decide to sell your home, you most likely are going to want to buy another one. This process is known as stepping up in the market, but can lead to financing problems.Selling and buying homes can be a bit stressful to say the least. If you recall the process of buying your first home, you know this is more than true. Now that you are going to both sell your current home and buy another, you are going to have twice the stress. There is also another problem that may arise. It is known as the financing gap.When you sell a home, the transaction will close upon an agreed upon date. At the same time, you are going to be trying to buy a home that will close on or near the same date in question. At least, that is how you should try to line it up. The problem, of course, is coming up with money for the new purchase. You may have a lot of equity in your first home, but it is in a non-liquid form, to wit, you can’t spend it. When you need to put down an earnest money deposit or down payment on the new home, how do you come up with the money?The typical answer for filling this “financing gap” is to get a bridge loan. A bridge loan is a short term loan of two to three months that gives you the liquidity required to purchase the new home. Sound great, right? Well, short term loans are infamously expensive. Points and fees are, frankly, outrageous. So, is there another solution?One option is to try to use your home equity line of credit. A line of credit on your home is just what it sounds like. It allows you to tap your equity in the home, often through a checking account. If you actually sell the home at some point, the line becomes due immediately upon closing. That being said, you can still time out the sale and purchase real estate transactions to use it to provide financial assistance with your new purchase.Assume I list my home for sale on March 1st. I also go out and start house hunting and applying for pre-approval on a new loan. I reach an agreement to sell my home on April 1st and also reach an agreement to buy a home on April 3rd. The problem is I have nominal amounts of liquid money. I can access my line of credit to pay the deposit and down payment on my new home. When the sale of my previous home closes, the equity line is paid off when the buyer funds the transaction. By taking this step, I have effectively used the equity in my own home to buy the new one and avoided paying high fees and costs with a bridge loan.