Home Equity Loans vs. HELOCs: A Comprehensive Guide for Homeowners

Home Equity Loans vs. HELOCs: A Comprehensive Guide for Homeowners

Published by Kartik Subramaniam

Reading Time : 6 minutes

Home Equity HELOCs

Sometimes, homeowners need money to fix their house, pay off debt, or handle emergencies. They can get this money through Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs) or Home Equity Loans. Both options let homeowners borrow money based on their home's value, but they have different interest rates, ways to pay back, and flexibility. This blog will discuss the differences between HELOCs and Home Equity Loans, their pros and cons, and when to choose each one.

This information can benefit those preparing for their real estate exam or attending an online real estate school.

What is a Home Equity Loan?

A Home Equity Loan allows homeowners to borrow a set amount of money using their home's value and equity (as the name implies). They pay it back with the same interest rate and payment for up to 30 years. This loan can be used to fix the house, pay off debt or for other reasons. Home Equity Loans are great for homeowners who know how much money they need and want to make the same payment every month. Keep this in mind if you are seeking a California real estate license or attending a real estate crash course so you can have intelligent discussions with your clients.

Pros of a Home Equity Loan:

• Fixed interest rate and monthly payments.

• Receive the entire loan amount at once.

• Some lenders don't charge additional fees.

• Loan payments might be tax-deductible if used for home improvements.

Cons of a Home Equity Loan:

• You must know the exact amount of money needed.

• Need sufficient home equity to qualify for the loan (usually 15-20%).

• Risk of losing the home if payments are not made.

• If the home's value decreases, homeowners might owe more than the home is worth.

What is a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)?

A Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) is similar to a credit card but tied to the equity in your house. You can use the money when needed and pay it back when possible. The amount of money you can borrow and the amount you have to pay back every month can change.

Pros of a HELOC:

• Only pay interest on the amount used.

• Can borrow and repay funds as needed.

• Some HELOCs allow converting to a fixed-rate payment.

• It can be used as an emergency fund.

Cons of a HELOC:

• Variable interest rates may lead to higher payments if rates increase.

• There might be annual fees or prepayment penalties.

• Risk of losing the home if the line of credit is not repaid.

Choosing Between a HELOC and a Home Equity Loan

When choosing between a HELOC and a Home Equity Loan, consider what you need the money for and how you want to pay it back. A Home Equity Loan is better if you know exactly how much money you need and want fixed payments that won't change. A HELOC is better if you want to access funds as needed and are okay with fluctuating payments. These concepts are crucial for students in online real estate schools or those preparing for their real estate exam.

History of HELOCs and Home Equity Loans

HELOCs and Home Equity Loans have been popular borrowing options since the 1980s. They became famous as the housing market grew and home values increased. Over time, lenders have adapted these products to serve borrowers' needs better, making them valuable topics for those pursuing a California real estate license or attending a real estate crash course.

Understanding Why People Take Out Home Equity Loans


A home equity loan is a type of loan where homeowners borrow money using the value of their house as a guarantee. This loan can help people get the cash they need for various reasons, like paying for significant expenses or improving their house. In this article, we'll explain why people take out home equity loans and how they can be helpful in simple terms.


Home Improvements and Repairs

One of the main reasons people take out home equity loans is to pay for improvements or repairs to their house. When you make your house better, it usually becomes worth more money. Using a home equity loan to improve your home can be smart because it can help you increase your home's value in the long run.

Debt Consolidation

Sometimes, people have a lot of different debts, like credit card bills, car loans, or student loans. These debts can have high-interest rates, making it hard to pay them off. A home equity loan can help people use the money from the loan to pay off their other debts. This way, they only have one loan to repay, which usually has a lower interest rate than their other debts.

1. Lower Interest Rates: One of the primary reasons homeowners use a HELOC for debt consolidation is because it typically offers lower interest rates than other borrowing forms, such as credit cards or personal loans. By consolidating high-interest debts with a lower-interest HELOC, homeowners can save money on interest payments over time.

2. Tax Benefits: Sometimes, the interest paid on a HELOC may be tax-deductible if the funds are used for specific purposes, such as home improvements. This tax benefit can make using a HELOC for debt consolidation even more attractive for homeowners.

3. Simplified Payments: When homeowners consolidate multiple debts into a HELOC, they can simplify their monthly payments. Instead of managing and paying several monthly bills, they only have to make one payment towards the HELOC. This can make managing finances more manageable and less stressful.

4. Flexible Access to Funds: A HELOC is a revolving line of credit, meaning homeowners can borrow and repay funds as needed during the draw period. This flexibility can be helpful for debt consolidation, as homeowners can use the HELOC to pay off their debts and repay the HELOC at their own pace.

5. Longer Repayment Terms: HELOCs often have longer repayment terms than other credit forms. This can result in lower monthly payments, making it easier for homeowners to manage their debt and budget.

6. Potential for Improved Credit Score: By consolidating high-interest debt using a HELOC, homeowners can lower their credit utilization ratio, which is the amount of debt they have compared to their available credit. A lower credit utilization ratio can improve credit scores over time.

Paying For Education

Education can be expensive, whether it's for yourself or your kids. Some people use home equity loans to help pay for college or other types of schooling. This is a good option because the interest rates on home equity loans are lower than other loans or credit cards.

Emergency Expenses

Sometimes, unexpected things happen, like a medical emergency or job loss. When people need money quickly, a home equity loan can be helpful. Because the loan uses the house's value as a guarantee, banks are more likely to approve the loan quickly.

Funding a Business or Investment

Starting a business or investing can be an excellent way to make money. However, you usually need some money to get started. A home equity loan can help people get the cash they need to create a business or make an investment, and if the investment pays off, it can be a smart financial move.

Understanding the differences between HELOCs and Home Equity Loans can help homeowners make informed decisions about leveraging their home's equity. By considering the purpose of the funds, the amount needed, and their preferences for repayment and interest rates, homeowners can choose the option that best suits their needs.

Either way, homeowners should be cautious when considering home equity loans, as these loans use their house as collateral. If they fail to make timely payments, they risk losing their home to foreclosure. Additionally, taking on more debt can potentially lead to financial strain and negative consequences if the housing market declines, resulting in owing more than the home's current value. It is essential to carefully assess one's financial situation and consider all options before using home equity loans.



Kartik Subramaniam

Founder, Adhi Schools

Kartik Subramaniam is the Founder and CEO of ADHI Real Estate Schools, a leader in real estate education throughout California. Holding a degree from Cal Poly University, Subramaniam brings a wealth of experience in real estate sales, property management, and investment transactions. He is the author of nine books on real estate and countless real estate articles. With a track record of successfully completing hundreds of real estate transactions, he has equipped countless professionals to thrive in the industry.

Enjoy what you read?

Sign up for our newsletter and get weekly updates on our latest articles