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Can You Use a Home Equity Loan for Anything?

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If you own a home, you could qualify for a home equity loan. (At PSECU, we call this loan a Real Estate Equity Loan.) These loans can help you finance things you may not be able to buy with your monthly salary. But are there any limitations on these loans? Is there anything you can’t finance with this money? Read on to learn what a home equity loan is and what you can use it for.

What is Home Equity?

Home equity is the difference between the appraised value of your home and how much you still owe on your mortgage and any other property liens. For example, say your house appraises for $200,000, and you have $120,000 left to pay on your mortgage. Your home equity would be $80,000. A home equity loan allows you to borrow against a percentage of the equity you have in your home.

What is a Home Equity Loan?

The amount you may borrow depends on your equity and the home’s market value. You use your home as collateral for the loan, and if you have a first mortgage on the home, it’s subordinate to that first mortgage. This is why home equity loans are often called second mortgages.

Your loan will have a set term and interest rate, much like your first mortgage. If you get a home equity loan, you’ll get your money in one lump sum up front and usually get a fixed rate on what you borrow. By contrast, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) allows you to draw on the line as you need it, giving you ongoing access to cash for a set draw period. Your payment is then based on the amount of money you transferred or “advanced.”  With a HELOC, you’ll likely get a variable rate that goes up or down depending on the prime rate.

How Does a Home Equity Loan Work?

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As with a first mortgage, you’ll most likely pay closing costs on a home equity loan, though they’re usually lower than the first mortgage’s. You begin to pay back a home equity loan immediately and must repay it in full by the end of the loan term.

Why Get a Home Equity Loan?

There are some advantages to choosing a home equity loan instead of another type of borrowing option. A couple of them are listed below.

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Can You Use a Home Equity Loan for Anything?

Technically, you can use a home equity loan to pay for anything. However, most people use them for larger expenses. Here are some of the most common uses for home equity loans.

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There are, however, some cases where a home equity loan might not be the smartest financial solution. One example? Starting your own business. This is a risky proposition. If you pour your home equity into a business, it could fail, and you may find you’re unable to make the payments. Since you used your house as collateral, this could result in a worst-case scenario of losing your home, as well as your business.

You also may not want a home equity loan if you don’t plan to use a large amount of money at once. With a home equity loan, you receive a lump sum and must pay it back in installments each month. If you don’t need a large sum at once, you may be better off considering a HELOC or another loan that requires you to pay only for the portion of the loan you used.

Are you in the market for a home equity loan? Consider taking out a PSECU Real Estate Equity Loan — we offer competitive rates to our members. And don’t forget to check our WalletWorks page for more money management tips.

The content provided in this publication is for informational purposes only. Nothing stated is to be construed as financial or legal advice. PSECU does not endorse any third parties, including, but not limited to, referenced individuals, companies, organizations, products, blogs or websites. PSECU does not warrant any advice provided by third parties. PSECU does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided by third parties. PSECU recommends that you seek the advice of a qualified financial, tax, legal or other professional if you have questions.