The two most common options for accessing home equity are a home equity line of credit (HELOC) and a cash-out refinance. Let’s take a look at the differences between a HELOC vs. cash-out refinance and when each might make sense for your financial situation and specific needs.
With every mortgage payment you make, you’re building equity in your home. And equity equals ownership. Once you’ve built up a significant amount of equity, you’re able to access that money and use the funds for any purpose you wish. How you access your home’s equity, however, depends on your needs.
In This Article
What Is a HELOC?
A home equity line of credit is revolving debt. Based on the value of and equity in your home, a HELOC works much like a low-interest credit card. Once approved (usually for an amount up to 90% of your home’s value minus any outstanding mortgage balances), you may draw on the line of credit and use the money however you’d like. For example, you could use your home’s equity to take a dream vacation or perform home repairs, consolidate high-interest debt or assist with retirement budgeting.
As you accumulate a balance on your line of credit, you will make repayments toward the interest and principal. The similarities with how a credit card works continue because as payments are made during the draw period, your principal balance will decrease, allowing you to borrow more money.
It’s important to note that a HELOC exists separately from your existing mortgage, and comes with its own terms and repayment schedule. For this reason, a HELOC is often referred to as a second mortgage. It’s secured by your home, meaning that if you fail to make payments, you may risk losing your home.
What Is Cash-Out Refinancing?
In short, a cash-out refi is a new mortgage that pays off your existing mortgage, giving you your home equity as a lump sum of cash (via a check or direct deposit into your bank account).
The result of a cash-out refinance is a brand new mortgage loan and likely different terms than your original mortgage. This means a different interest rate, new monthly payment amount and possibly a longer remaining loan term to pay off the new mortgage completely.
A cash-out refi could be the way to go if you need a fixed amount of cash immediately and would like to maintain one mortgage payment. A cash-out refinance may also be best if you don’t believe that you have the discipline for a revolving line of credit, which is open to subsequent borrowing.
HELOC vs. Cash-Out Refinance
When it comes to deciding between a HELOC vs. cash-out refinance, consider how and when you intend to use the equity from your home, and how long you will need to pay it back.
A HELOC is a secondary home equity loan product that is fluid in how you draw from it and how you pay it back. For example, if you don’t have a balance, there is no payment to make. This means that you will only have to pay back the portion of the HELOC you’ve used at any given moment. Typically, you’ll be able to draw from your HELOC over a 10-year period. After the draw period ends, the repayment period officially begins and you’ll no longer be able to withdraw from the HELOC. You will then have up to 20 years to repay the outstanding balance.
This is in stark contrast to a cash-out refi, which may immediately increase your monthly mortgage payment obligation for the next 10, 15 or 30 years. Let’s say your home is valued at $350,000 and your mortgage balance is $200,000. In this scenario, you have $150,000 of equity in your home, meaning you could refinance your $200,000 loan balance for $300,000, and receive the extra $100,000 in a lump sum. Your new mortgage will be for $300,000, and the interest rate and monthly mortgage payment will reflect that.
Key Features of a HELOC
- Revolving debt to borrow and repay
- Second mortgage with separate payment and interest rate
- Payments due only on what you borrow
- Variable payments during the draw period based on your line of credit balance (Payments may also vary if the HELOC has a variable rate feature including during the repayment period)
Key Features of a Cash-Out Refinance
- Receive your home equity in a lump sum
- Continue with a single, refinanced mortgage payment
- Fixed payments
- Longer terms may be available (for example, a new 30-year mortgage)
As you can see, there are several key differences between a HELOC vs cash-out refi. Before proceeding with either option you should consider your personal budget to determine what you can afford, and think about how and how often you will use the equity in your home.
See How Much Equity You Can Borrow Today
When you’re ready, use our HELOC calculator to find out how much equity you may be eligible to borrow.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT PROCEDURES FOR OPENING A NEW ACCOUNT.
To help the government fight the funding of terrorism and money laundering activities, Federal law requires all financial institutions to obtain, verify, and record information that identifies each person who opens an account.
What this means for you: When you open an account, we will ask for your name, address, date of birth, and other information that will allow us to identify you. We may also ask to see your driver’s license or other identifying documents.
Eligibility for a HELOC up to $500,000 depends on the information provided in the HELOC application. Borrower must take an initial draw of $50,000 at closing. Subsequent draws are prohibited during the first 90 days following closing. After the first 90 days following closing, subsequent draws must be $1,000 or more (not applicable in Texas). Loans above $250,000 require an in-home appraisal. Loans above $250,000 require title insurance.
The time it takes to get cash is measured from the time the Lending Partner receives all documents requested from the applicant and assumes the applicant’s stated income, property and title information provided in the loan application matches the requested documents and any supporting information. Spring EQ borrowers get their cash on average in 18 days. The time period calculation to get cash is based on the last 6 months of 2021 loan fundings, assumes the funds are wired, excludes weekends, and excludes the government-mandated 3-day right of rescission grace period. The amount of time it takes to get cash will vary depending on the applicant’s respective financial circumstances and the Lending Partner’s current volume of applications.
Spring EQ cannot use a borrower’s home equity funds to pay (in part or in full) Spring EQ non-homestead debt at account opening. Minimum draw in Texas is $4,000. To access HELOC funds, borrower must request convenience checks.
Interest rates may be adjusted based on factors related to the applicant’s credit profile, income and debt ratios, the presence of existing liens against and the location of the subject property, the occupancy status of the subject property, as well as the initial draw amount taken at the time of closing. Speak to a Prosper Agent for details.
Qualified applicants may borrow up to 97.5% of their home’s value (not applicable in Texas). This does not apply to investment properties. For Texas HELOCs, qualified applicants may borrow up to 80% of their home’s value.
HELOCs through Prosper may not be available in all states. Please carefully review your HELOC credit agreement for more information.
All HELOCs are underwritten and issued by Spring EQ, LLC, an Equal Housing Lender. NMLS #1464945.
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