About home equity loans
Home equity loans come in two main types - a standard home equity loan or a home equity line of credit (HELOC). Both are loans that are secured by the equity (cash value) you have in your home. You can use the money you borrow for any purpose you wish.
A conventional home equity loan is pretty straightforward. You borrow a sum of money that you repay over a fixed period of time, usually 5-15 years. These are usually fixed-rate loans, though some lenders may offer an adjustable-rate option as well.
A HELOC is a line of credit, secured by the equity in your home, which you can draw on as needed. The credit line is set up with a certain limit - say $20,000 for example - which you can borrow against in any amounts you wish. It's much like having a credit card secured by your home.
HELOCs are usually set up in two phases, a draw period during which you can borrow against the line of credit, and a repayment period during which the loan(s) must be repaid. Note that this allows you to defer payments until after the draw period ends. HELOCs are usually set up as adjustable-rate loans during the draw and convert to a fixed-rate for repayment.
Both tend to have higher interest rates than on conventional primary mortgages. But because they are considered a type of second mortgage, the interest is usually tax-deductable for those who itemize deductions.