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How do I Get the Best HELOC Rates?

To get the best HELOC rates, a borrower needs to have a good credit history.
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  • Written By: R. Anacan
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2014
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A HELOC, or a home equity line of credit, is a type of mortgage loan. As with all types of loans, the better the interest rate and terms of the loan, the less the borrower will have to pay to the lender over the life of the loan. To understand how to get the best HELOC rates, it may be helpful to understand how a home equity line of credit works.

When a borrower opens a HELOC, he is accessing the equity in his home. Equity is the difference between what a property is worth and what is owed. A home that is currently worth $100,000 US Dollars (USD) with a mortgage loan balance of $75,000 USD has $25,000 USD in equity.

A home equity line of credit works much like a credit card. A borrower with $25,000 USD of equity in their home may be able to take out a home equity line of credit of up to $25,000 USD. Once a HELOC is opened, the borrower may access funds up to the maximum amount of the credit line. Like a credit card, the borrower is charged interest for any amount accessed from the credit line. If no amount is accessed and the full amount of the HELOC is available, then the borrower generally pays no interest.

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Where it does differ from a credit card is with a HELOC the borrower is only able to access the funds for a set amount of time. This is called the draw period. Once this period expires, the funds are no longer accessible and the borrower must repay the outstanding amount that is due.

To get the best HELOC rates, a borrower should have positive credit history and a good credit score. While credit scoring and history is an important factor in all mortgage loans, it is especially critical with a HELOC. The reason for this is that a HELOC is usually the second mortgage on a home and is considered subordinate to the first mortgage. If a borrower defaults on the mortgage and the lender is forced to foreclose and sell the home, the lender who holds the first mortgage has the first right to any of the funds from the sale of the home.

If there are any proceeds remaining after the first mortgage holder has been paid off, then the lender with the subordinate mortgage is paid. Often times the lender with the subordinate mortgage is not paid off in full or at all, creating a financial loss for the lender. This makes a HELOC a riskier loan for a lender to originate than a conventional mortgage. Therefore a lender will generally have stricter credit requirements for a HELOC than they would for a conventional loan.

To get the best HELOC rates, it is also important to have equity in the home. Lenders look at something known as loan to value (LTV) and combined loan to value (CLTV). Loan to value is calculated by dividing the amount of a mortgage loan by the value of the home. For example, if a mortgage loan equals $80,000 USD and the value of a home is $100,000 USD, the mortgage loan has an LTV of 80%.

CLTV is calculated by adding up all of the loans associated with a property and dividing that number by the value of the property. If a home has a first mortgage of $80,000 USD and a second mortgage of $10,000 USD, the CLTV would equal 90%. To get the best HELOC rates it is helpful to have lower LTV and CLTV amounts as the higher these two numbers are, the greater the risk to the lender. Many lenders even have LTV and CLTV maximums on their loans.

Lastly, the borrower who wants to find the best HELOC rates is encouraged to take the time to research and consider a variety of different lenders. It is recommended that the borrower inform potential lenders that he is shopping around and is looking for the best interest rate and terms. Many websites provide a listing of the current interest rates offered by major lenders and some will even send customer’s loan requests to different lenders, causing lenders to compete against each other for the business.

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subway11
Post 4

GreenWeaver-You could try to look at obtaining an FHA mortgage loan too. Usually the FHA mortgage rate is low and they have more liberal standards for qualifying.

I know that a friend of mine owned several units in a building that was deemed not financeable by most lenders because of the high defaults in the building, but there were some buyers that qualified for an FHA loan for the property because the government guaranteed it.

I think that this is another option so that you can still take advantage of these low 30 year mortgage rates.

I know that Fannie Mae owned some properties in my friend’s building. Fannie Mae offers financing for these properties that requires a 3% down payment with no private mortgage insurance required.

It is called Home Path financing. They also offer a Home Path Financing Renovation mortgage which is another program that allows buyers the opportunity to borrow money from Fannie Mae in order to make repairs in the home. Investors can also buy these homes.

GreenWeaver
Post 3

Cafe41-Sometimes if you are seeking to buy a second home, maybe even a vacation property and your primary home is paid off, you might need to take out a home equity line of credit in order to buy the property.

Many beachfront vacation condos are having financial difficulties in which over 10% of the owners are not paying their maintenance dues. In addition, some banks shy away from properties with less than 50% owner occupants.

If this is the case and the property is priced right and in a great location, a HELOC can allow you to purchase the property and have no closing costs.

This is the way some people are buying second homes that can not get a 30 year fixed rate mortgage loan.

cafe41
Post 2

BrickBack-If you are looking for the lowest rates, it is best to consider the variable rate option. Also, keep in mind that a home equity line of credit or a home equity loan places a lien on your property.

If after the proceeds of the sale of your home are insufficient to satisfy your home equity loan or line, then the banks can take legal action against you for the difference.

This means that you could be stuck making payments for a home that you no longer own because this is considered a recourse loan. It is always a good idea to be careful with a HELOC mortgage.

BrickBack
Post 1

The best home equity line of credit rates are offered to those borrowers with the best credit file and loan to value ratio.

The lowest HELOC rates are for variable rate home equity lines of credit. These rates could be several percentage points lower than a fixed rate home equity loan.

For example, a variable rate HELOC might offer a variable rate of 5%, depending on the equity, appraisal, and credit history of the applicant.

A fixed rate home equity loan for the same property might offer an interest rate of 8.5%. This is because the banks can not capitalize on the increasing rates over time like they can with a variable rate.

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