How Does a Home Equity Loan Work?

Highlights

  • A Home Equity Loan is a mortgage that allows you to borrow money without refinancing your current mortgage.
  • You take a home equity loan for many reasons including debt consolidation, paying for home improvements and college expenses.
  • Check how much equity you have and what is your best home equity loan alternative.
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What is a Home Equity Loan?

A home equity loan is a special type of mortgage, which allows you to tap into your home’s value to take out cash. There are many reasons to take out a home equity loan including debt consolidation, home improvements, or paying for college.

Home prices are up, and you probably have built up equity in your home. If you are looking for cash with a long-term payment schedule, low-interest rates, and low monthly payments, then a home equity loan is a great alternative. In most cases, a home equity loan is a second mortgage, which means that you take you don't pay off your current mortgage.

Home Equity Loan: How Does it Work

Home Equity Loan requirements are similar to other mortgages. Here are three essential steps to taking a home equity loan:

  1. Figure out how much equity you have, and how much you can take out, based on lenders Loan to Value (LTV) guidelines.
  2. Once you figure out how much you want and whether that amount fits into your needs, you can estimate the monthly payment for the HEL, in addition to your current mortgage.
  3. Finally, to qualify for a Home Equity Loan, lenders look at your loan to value ratio, credit score, and debt-to-income ratio.

How Much Home Equity Do You Have:

When you financed your home purchase, you made a down payment and then took a mortgage to buy the home. Your down payment represents the amount of equity you have. However, some events occurred since you purchased your home. Firstly, you paid off part of your mortgage. Secondly, home prices changed, sometimes up and other times down. To calculate your current home equity, you need to know your current home’s value and the balance of your mortgage(s).

Here is a simple example. If your home is worth $400,000 and your current mortgage balance is $320,000, then you have $80,000 in equity. Can you take out a Home Equity Loan for $80,000? The answer is most likely, No, but in some circumstances possibly yes. 

Calculate Home Equity Value

Home Equity - How Much Can You Take Out

How large of a home equity loan can you take? That would depend on your Loan to Value ratio, and lenders’ rules and guidelines. Your LTV is easy to calculate. Using the previous example, your LTV is 80%: $320,000 / $400,000.

In general, lenders allow for a combined LTV (CLTV) of about 80%. It is essential that you align your cash needs with the amount of money that lenders will offer.

Home Equity Loan: LTV

Home Equity Loan: Qualifying for a Loan

Once again, home equity loans work similar to other mortgage loans. After looking at your LTV and the amount of money you can take, lenders look at your credit score, credit history, and debt to income ratio (DTI).

The standard requirements for a home equity loan are similar to a regular conventional mortgage: A credit score of at least 620 and a debt to income ratio of no more than 43%. However, lenders often have stricter requirements, and especially if the HCLTV is high. On the other hand, since many Home Equity Lenders hold on to the loans or sell them in a secondary market, there can be more flexibility.

Do you qualify for a home equity loan? The best way to find out is to shop around and get mortgage quotes and pre-approved.

Choose the Right Type of Home Equity Mortgage

Are you trying to decide which type of mortgage to take?  Use Bills.com Choosing a Home Equity Loan Mortgage Calculator to decide between a cash out refinance, home equity loan, or HELOC.

The Bayer Family Needs Cash - An Example of How Home Equity Loan Works

The Bayer family bought their home a number of years ago for $250,000. They estimate that the current value is about $300,000. They took out a 30-year mortgage at 3.25% and now owe about $170,000. They need about $40,000 to consolidate medical bills and credit card debt and pay for their daughter’s college tuition. Do they have enough equity in their home to qualify for a Home Equity Loan? Let’s run the numbers:

The Bayers have $130,000 of equity in their home ($300,000 - $170,000). Their current LTV is 58%. If they extended their CLTV to 80%, then they could borrow up to $240,000 against their home, or an additional $70,000. If they borrow another $40,000, their CLTV will be 71%. Their monthly payment today (principal and interest) is about $979. Assuming that they borrow the $40,000 for 15-years, the additional payment would be $296. The Bayers could also borrow the $40,000 for 30-years and reduce the monthly payment to about $191.

 

Home Equity Loan Calculator - With Monthly Payments

Bills.com Home Equity Loan Calculator 

Use Bills.com Home Equity Calculator to check out your Loan to Value Ratio (LTV), the amount of cash you have available, and your monthly payments. 

Your home equity depends on the value of your home and your mortgage balance. If you have more than one mortgage, then use the total amount for your “Mortgage Balance.” The result box shows both your Loan to Value ratio (LTV) and the total amount of equity, in dollars, you have based on current values.
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LTV
(Loan to Value Ratio)
My Equity is Now:
After completing step one you have a good idea of how much equity you have in your home. However, the amount of cash you can take out of your home depends on lenders underwriting rules. In general, lenders offer up a LTV up to 80%, although some lenders do offer higher ratios.
Maximum Cash Available Is:
Figure Out How Much Your Payment will be based on current mortgage rates, the length of the loan, and the amount of the Home Equity Loan
Home Equity Loan Monthly Payment:
Calculate Your Current Mortgage Payment based on the current balance, number of years left to pay, and your current interest rate. (This is for principal and interest only and doesn't include your property taxes, property insurance and if applicable mortgage insurance costs).
Existing Mortgage Payment Is:
Review your HEL and Current Mortgage based on LTV and Monthly Payments.
Home Value:
Mortgage
Amount
Monthly Payment
LTV
Current
Home Equity
Total-Mortgage
Make sure the amount doesn't exceed maximum amount available
Get Mortgage Rates!
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