Home Improvement: Home Equity Line of Credit versus Mortgage Refinance

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.

Home Improvement: Home Equity Line of Credit versus Mortgage Refinance

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.

Home Equity Line of Credit – Is There a Prepayment Penalty?

For the most part, homeowners are familiar with home equity loans and
home equity lines of credit. With either option, you are able to acquire
funds for emergencies, home improvement projects, etc. Getting a line
of credit and using your home’s equity to your advantage is a huge
benefit to owning a home. However, before completing the credit application,
homeowners should carefully read and understand the credit line
agreement.How Does a Home Equity Line of Credit Work?A home equity line of credit is a credit line that is based on your
home’s equity. For example, if you owe $80,000 on a $120,000 mortgage,
your home’s equity is $40,000. When applying for a home equity line of
credit, the lender will approve you for a credit line up to the amount of
your home’s equity. Lines of credit are slightly different than home
equity loans. While home equity loans are also based on your home’s
equity, homeowners obtain a lump sum of money upon approval of their loan
application. These loans are generally based on a fixed rate, whereas
lines of credit have variable rates.How to Obtain Funds with a Home Equity Line of CreditGetting money from your home equity line of credit is very simple. Once
a lender approves your line of credit, you will be issued a checkbook
or ATM card. Whenever you need cash, you simply write yourself a check
from your credit line. Because the amount you withdraw from a line of
credit varies, your monthly payments will also vary. If you prefer a
predictable monthly payment, a home equity loan will best suit your needs.Home Equity Line of Credit Prepayment PenaltyHome equity lines of credit have specific terms. Your lender may
approve your line of credit for 10 to 25 years. At the end of the term, you
must re-apply to obtain another credit line. Home equity lines of credit
are similar to other mortgage loans in regards to prepayment penalties.Before applying and accepting a lender’s offer, carefully review the
offer and inquire of prepayment penalties. With a prepayment penalty, you
are charged a fee if the credit line is closed before the end of the
term. Typical fees are about $500. However, if the balance on your line
of credit is zero, but the account remains open for future withdrawals,
prepayment fees will not apply.

Home Equity Line of Credit – Market Trends for the Prime Rate Index

The U.S. Federal Reserve has raised interest rates five times since June, with more hikes being predicted. Short-term interest rates raised 15 times over the past two years and rates on home equity lines of credit are at a five-year high. As a result, the growth of home equity loans is slowing, especially home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) and adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) due to their variable interest rates that adjust based on a standardized index (e.g., the Eleventh District Cost of Funds Index, United States One-Year Treasury Bill, or Wall Street Prime Index).Now, credit line borrowers are paying off their home equity lines in increasing numbers by refinancing into fixed rate second mortgages. For example, at Wells Fargo, the number of borrowers prepaying their credit lines has climbed 50% this year. At Wachovia Corp., 40% of customers are choosing fixed-rate home equity loans, compared with 30% last year.To attract new borrowers and keep current credit line customers from paying off their loans, lenders are “sweetening the pot.” According to RealEstateJournal, U.S. Bank, a unit of U.S. Bancorp, this week introduced a home-equity loan with a rate of 5.99% that’s fixed for 20 years; previous rates in most markets were 6.99% or higher. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. has cut home equity rates for some borrowers on its lines of credit to 0.76% below the prevailing prime rate of 6.75%. Other banks are also offering enticements to keep customers from paying off their home equity lines of credit.Adjustable mortgage rate borrowers are scrambling to refinance into fixed rate mortgages (FRMs) to lock into fixed interest rates before the next rate hike. Holden Lewis, senior reporter with Bankrate says, “Looking at mortgage rates, the 13-week average is higher than the 52-week average; the four-week average is higher than the 13-week average, and this week’s rate is higher than the four-week average. The upward momentum is undeniable.” And, according to Moody’s Economy.com, more than $2 trillion of adjustable-rate mortgages come up for interest-rate resets in 2006 and 2007.