My Perfect Mortgage
Comparing Home Equity Loan vs. Home Equity Line of Credit: What You Need to Know
4 minute read
May 4, 2024

Owning a home unlocks a wealth of opportunities, but sometimes unexpected expenses arise.

Tapping into your home's equity can help you bridge financial gaps, but navigating the options can be tricky.

This article dives into the two most common methods: the home equity loan and the home equity line of credit (HELOC).

We'll explore how they differ in terms of access to funds, repayment structures, and interest rates, empowering you to make an informed decision for your financial goals.

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What is a Home Equity Loan?

A home equity loan is a type of loan that allows you to borrow money against the equity you've built up in your home.

Imagine your home value is like a pie. You've already paid off a portion (the crust), and what's left is the equity (the filling). A home equity loan lets you borrow against the value of that filling.

Remember though, that the loan is secured by your home. This means if you don't repay the loan, the lender can foreclose on your home to recover their money.

Exploring Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

A Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) is another way to tap into your home's equity but with more flexibility. Unlike a home equity loan that provides a lump sum, a HELOC functions more like a credit card with a revolving line of credit.

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Key features of a HELOC:

  • Draw Period: This is a set timeframe, typically 10 years, during which you can withdraw money from the credit line as needed.
  • Repayment Period: After the draw period ends, you enter a repayment period where you can no longer withdraw funds and focus on paying off the borrowed amount, usually with interest.
  • Variable Interest Rates: HELOCs typically have variable interest rates, which can fluctuate based on market conditions. This can be both an advantage (if rates go down) or a disadvantage (if rates go up).

Pros and Cons of Home Equity Loans and HELOCs

When considering whether to take out a home equity loan or a HELOC, it's important to weigh the pros and cons of each option.

Home Equity Loan:

  • Pros:
    • Fixed Interest Rates: Predictable monthly payments throughout the loan term.
    • Lower Rates: Typically lower interest rates than personal loans or credit cards.
  • Cons:
    • Equity Requirements: Minimum home equity needed to qualify.
    • Loan Limits: Borrowing amount capped based on your home's value.
    • Consolidation Option: Simplify repayments by consolidating high-interest debt.


  • Pros:
    • Flexibility: Borrow only what you need, up to a limit.
    • Potential Interest Savings: Pay interest only on the amount used.
    • Access to Funds: Funds available for emergencies or ongoing expenses.
  • Cons:
    • Variable Rates: Rates can fluctuate, increasing payments.
    • Temptation to Overspend: Easy access to credit can lead to higher debt.
    • Minimum Payments: Required even if you haven't borrowed.

How To Pick the Right Loan Options For You

  • Loan Amount: Home equity loans are better for one-time expenses (renovations) due to the lump sum. HELOCs are ideal for ongoing expenses or emergencies due to the credit line.
  • Flexibility: Home equity loans offera structure with a set repayment term. HELOCs provide more flexibility but require discipline to avoid overspending.

Remember: Your home secures both options and defaults can lead to foreclosure. Additionally, factor in the closing costs of the home equity option you choose. Consult a financial advisor before making a decision.

Understanding Home Equity Loan vs. HELOC: Conclusion

In conclusion, navigating home equity financing requires a clear understanding of your financial goals and priorities. 

A home equity loan offers stability with a fixed interest rate and lump sum ideal for one-time expenses. For ongoing needs or if you prefer borrowing flexibility, a HELOC might be a better choice. Remember, both options utilize your home as collateral, so responsible use is crucial. 

Consulting with a financial advisor to discuss your specific situation and determine which loan best suits your needs is highly recommended. When you’re ready, can connect you with the right lender for you to take advantage of the equity you’ve built.

Our advise is based on experience in the mortgage industry and we are dedicated to helping you achieve your goal of owning a home. We may receive compensation from partner banks when you view mortgage rates listed on our website.