Home Improvement Time - HELOC or Home Equity Loan?

Wednesday, Jun 14, 2006

A home equity line of credit-or HELOC-works like a credit card. Moreover, you can access it by using a card, a check, or some other means, depending upon the lending institution's policy. A HELOC is simple to establish and doesn't require the kinds of closing costs that accompany a first mortgage. The lender, in principle, promises to lend you a certain amount of money, and the loan begins the moment you draw any of the available funds. You can use the money as you please, and the interest rate is adjustable. A good choice for a home improvement project, the HELOC is particularly attractive when interest rates are low or in decline.

Rising rates and HELOCs

These days, following a long period of extremely low interest rates, the Federal Reserve is gradually hiking rates. What's more, all indications are that this policy of escalating costs for capital will continue for the foreseeable future. In an environment of higher interest, it often makes more sense to borrow money with a home equity loan, or second mortgage, instead of a HELOC. The benefits are numerous: many of the costs and interest payments are tax deductible; you can pay back the loan over a long period of time; and best of all, the interest rates are fixed, not adjustable.

The attractive home equity loan

With low rates still available (but probably not for long), people embarking on home improvement projects may find the home equity loan to be the most attractive option on the market. Whether you're considering a landscaping makeover, a new roof, or just a few fresh coats of paint, the best tool in your financial toolbox this summer may be the home equity loan.

Home improvement projects improve the quality of your life while you live in your home. At the same time, they are a sound investment for the future, because they add to the market value and equity of your property.

If you've been waiting to improve your home, this long, hot summer may be just the time to make the improvements that will make the long, cold winter more bearable and, potentially, more profitable.

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