Your house is your home, but it’s more than a place to live. It’s a major investment that has value, and that value can help you reach financial goals.
By borrowing against the equity you have in your home with a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit), you can access funds for a variety of purposes; often, at far lower interest rates than you’d pay using a credit card or taking out other types of loans.
A HELOC is essentially a loan that allows you to borrow money with your home as the collateral. Unlike a mortgage loan, which gives you a certain amount of money all at once, a HELOC is a loan set up as a revolving line of credit and has a maximum “draw,” meaning you can take money from your HELOC, as little or as much as you like (up to the maximum), at any time during the HELOC’s “draw” period.
How much you money you can access (the limit of your draw) is determined by the current equity you have in your house and your credit history. Draw periods vary, as do the repayment periods and terms. Some only require you to pay interest during the draw period and then allow you to pay back the loan principal over a set period of years; others require payment in full at the end of the draw period.
When to Use a HELOC
Because you can pay as you go, HELOCs offer an appealing, easy way to pay a series of recurring costs, like those you might incur during a small home renovation project.
They’re also handy for tackling debts that need to be paid quickly so they don’t get larger, such as an escalating credit card bill.
Because the funds are readily available but you don’t have to pay interest until you draw against the credit line, HELOCs are extremely flexible, letting you use the credit as needed and making them a smart way to cover emergency expenses, like unexpected medical bills.
HELOCs can carry some risks. They’re usually not the best option for simply getting a hold of some extra spending money.