Let’s start off by looking at the debts that are largest for most people- Mortgage Loan and other loans that are secured by home and property, such as home equity lines of credit and home equity loans. A mortgage is a loan for which a home is used as collateral. If the borrower fails to make the monthly payments on the mortgage, the lender could foreclose on the property. In the past, a traditional mortgage was available from a bank, a credit union, or a savings and loan and it had a fixed interest rate for 15, 20, 25, or 30 years. This is a fixed-rate mortgage. To qualify, a borrower needed to have a high credit score, be employed, have enough money to cover a down payment of 20 percent of the property’s sale price, and meet other criteria.
Today, there are hundreds of mortgage products available and the qualification requirements are dramatically different, in many cases less stringent. This makes it possible for more people than ever before to get approved for mortgages and become homeowners. A home equity loan is a type of second mortgage. A lender gives the borrower a lump sum of money, which he or she then pays back over a specified length of time, at a fixed interest rate. This loan uses the borrower’s home as collateral. Like a fixed-rate mortgage, the monthly payments on a home equity loan remain the same. Interest rates on a home equity loan are typically higher than for a mortgage, but lower than for other types of loans, such as credit cards or car loans.
A HELOC (home equity line of credit) is also a type of second mortgage. The lender commits to making a specified amount of money available to the borrower for a specified length of time. The equity in the borrower’s home is used as collateral. The difference between a HELOC and a home equity loan is that with a HELOC, the borrower can borrow any amount of money, up to the specified credit limit, pay it back over time, and potentially borrow again during the term of the loan agreement. The borrower decides how much to borrow and when, up to the specified limit on the line of credit and within the specified term. Another difference is that the rates for HELOCs are adjustable, not fixed, so the amount of interest to be paid on the loan will change. A HELOC has an annual fee. Homeowners can use this type of Mortgage Loan as a financial safety net, only if and when necessary.
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