Home Improvement: Home Equity Line of Credit versus Mortgage Refinance

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Making home improvements, home remodeling, adding onto a home and debt consolidation are some of the most popular reasons people cash out on their home equity. But the question is, which should you choose, mortgage refinancing or a home equity line of credit (HELOC)?A mortgage refinance loan is when you replace your current mortgage with a new loan. People refinance their mortgages for a variety of reasons including, refinancing from adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) to fixed interest rate ones, liquidating equity into cash (cash-out refinance) or to reduce monthly payments and extend the loan term. A mortgage refinance has the same costs as a mortgage, such as loan application fees, loan origination fees, and appraisal fees.A variable rate HELOC, where the interest rate and annual percentage rate (APR) can move up or down, depending on the Prime Rate published daily in the Wall Street Journal, is one of two popular second mortgage options, with the other being a home equity installment loan (HEIL). HELOC second mortgages provide you with the flexibility of borrowing all or part of your equity and you only pay interest on what you use unlike a HEIL or refinance. Because HELOCs work like credit cards, you can pay down your balance and borrow again without having to apply for a new loan. And, according to ehow.com, there are no closing costs for second mortgages, as there are with refinancing.If you have an adjustable rate or high interest rate mortgage that you want to refinance into a lower fixed rate while cashing out on equity for home improvements or other purposes, a mortgage refinance may work the best for you. However, according to ERATE.com, if the rate on your existing first mortgage is substantially lower than that of current market rates and if you have been making payments on your mortgage for a period of five years or more, then a second mortgage may be a more sensible financial solution than starting over with a new first loan.

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