June 16, 2023

Utilizing Home Equity: What You Need to Know About the Home Equity Line of Credit

Using the value of your home as collateral, a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) can be an effective way to access funds for many types of projects. A HELOC is a type of loan that allows homeowners to borrow money against the equity in their home. This type of borrowing offers several advantages, including lower interest rates than other types of loans and the ability to use the funds for a variety of purposes. However, before taking out a HELOC, it is important to understand how these loans work and what you need to consider when making this decision. This article answers several important questions about Home Equity Lines of Credit, so you can make an informed decision about whether or not this type of loan is right for you.

What is a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)?

A HELOC is a loan that allows you to borrow against the equity you have in your home. It differs from a traditional home equity loan in that it functions more like a credit card, with a set credit limit that you can continue to draw from as you need during the draw period, and as you make payments towards the balance, you can borrow more funds again for a period of years as necessary. After the draw period runs out, then the repayment period begins and you’ll pay interest on the outstanding balance.

How can a HELOC help me?

HELOCs are a great way to access funds for purchases or projects. The lower interest rates associated with these loans can help you save money over the life of the loan, making it easier to manage your payments and finances. Additionally, since you are using your home as collateral, the available loan amounts are typically larger than with other types of financing. This makes it a great option for large projects such as remodeling or landscaping, or consolidating high-interest debt into one monthly payment.

Use our calculator to find the Loan to Value Ratio of your home.

What do I need to consider before taking out a HELOC?

Before taking out a HELOC, it’s important to consider the risks associated with this type of loan. Although HELOCs offer lower interest rates than other types of loans and can provide larger amounts of money, they are still a form of debt and should be treated as such. Therefore, before taking out a Home Equity Line of Credit, you should make sure that you are able to make regular payments towards the loan and that you have a plan for how to use the funds responsibly. Additionally, it is important to be aware of potential risks associated with using your home as collateral, such as in the case of foreclosure or if the value of your home decreases.

How do I qualify for a HELOC?

In order to qualify for a HELOC, you need to meet certain criteria.

  1. Equity in your home: To get a HELOC, you must possess a certain amount of equity in your residential property. Equity is the disparity between what you still owe on the mortgage and the current market worth of your residence. In most cases, lenders need you to have 10-20% equity in your home for qualification for a HELOC.
  2. Credit score: Your credit score is a number that describes your creditworthiness in view of your past credit history. Lenders will assess this figure to decide if you are an eligible applicant for a HELOC. Generally, those with good scores have better chances of being granted a loan.
  3. Income and employment: To verify your eligibility, lenders will ask for proof of your income, such as pay stubs or tax returns. They might also need to check up on your work status with your employer.
  4. Debt-to-income ratio: The debt-to-income (DTI) ratio is used to measure the percentage of monthly income that goes into servicing debts. Low DTI indicates that you have more available income for paying off additional debt such as a HELOC.
  5. Payment history: Lenders will take into account your payment history on other credit commitments, like mortgages and credit cards. An impressive record of timely payments can improve your prospects of getting a HELOC.

Visit our Credit Management Resources for free educational resources that will help you understand and improve your credit, borrow wisely, and more.

How can I use a HELOC?

Owning a property can be one of your biggest assets. Besides being your main source of shelter and security, there are many ways that you can leverage your property to benefit you financially. Here are four ways you can use your HELOC to improve your financial situation.

Home repairs

One of the most common uses of a HELOC is home repairs. Over time, properties can wear out, and repairs can be expensive. However, with a HELOC, you can tap into your equity and pay for big and small improvements, repairs, and renovations. These repairs could increase the value of your property, and you might be eligible for interest deductions. Examples of home repairs include roof replacements, painting, bathroom and kitchen updates, and landscaping.

College tuition

A HELOC can be used to fund higher education for you or your family members. College tuition can be expensive and burdensome, and a HELOC could help to cover the cost of tuition fees, room and board, and books. With a HELOC, you could pay the tuition directly, which could provide an interest deduction. It could be an excellent way to finance higher education without taking out a personal loan or an expensive student loan.


If you are planning a vacation, a HELOC can be a great way to fund it. Taking a vacation is essential in reducing stress, recharging, and making memories with family and loved ones. With a HELOC, you could pay for flights, hotels, transportation, and activities. However, you should be careful not to overspend since you will need to repay the balance.

Debt consolidation

Consolidating high-interest debts, including credit card debt with a HELOC can be an excellent way to streamline your finances and save money. If you have multiple credit card balances, car payments, or other loans, you may be able to consolidate them into a single monthly payment with a lower interest rate. With a HELOC, you could also pay off the balance faster and reduce the amount of interest you pay over time.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a HELOC?

Here is a quick snapshot of some of the advantages and disadvantages of taking out a HELOC.


  1. Low-interest rates: Generally, HELOCs have much lower rates than other forms of financing.
  2. Flexible repayment terms: A HELOC gives you more flexibility in how and when you make payments.
  3. Tax deductions: If your HELOC is used for home improvements, it can generally qualify for tax deductions.


  1. Variable interest rates: A HELOC’s interest rate can fluctuate, which can increase your payments and make it harder to pay off the debt.
  2. Fees: Generally, lenders will charge fees for opening a HELOC account, such as an origination fee or closing costs.
  3. Risk of foreclosure: If you fail to make your payments, the lender may foreclose on your home.

While a HELOC can be a valuable tool for improving your financial situation, it can also have serious repercussions if not used properly. Make sure to research the terms and conditions of any agreement before signing. Additionally, if you are considering taking out a HELOC, speak to an experienced wealth advisor who can guide you through the process and ensure that you make the best decision for your situation.

What’s the difference between fixed vs. variable interest rates on a HELOC?

HELOCs typically offer two types of interest rates: fixed and variable. A fixed interest rate is a set interest rate for the life of the loan. This type of rate is beneficial in that it offers stability, and you can expect your monthly payments to remain the same.

A variable interest rate fluctuates with market conditions. It can be attractive if you plan to pay off your balance quickly, as it will generally start off lower than a fixed rate. However, if it increases during the life of the loan through rising interest rates, then it could mean higher payments and difficulty repaying your balance.

It is important to research and compare both options in order to make an informed decision on which type of interest rate best suits your needs and be sure to read all the fine print in any agreement before signing.

What are the closing costs on a HELOC?

Closing costs are the fees paid at the closing of a mortgage or HELOC. They can include fees for processing the loan, a title search, an appraisal, attorney fees, and more. However, not all closing costs are applicable for a HELOC. Generally, HELOCs have less complex closing costs than a primary mortgage. Some fees that may be charged include an application fee, appraisal fee, credit check fee, and origination fee.

The fees for a HELOC will vary depending on the lender and the amount of your credit line. On average, you can expect closing costs to range between $500 – $2500.

A Home Equity Line of Credit is an important tool for homeowners to access the equity in their homes and use it to finance a variety of purchases. It can be beneficial to homeowners who qualify, as it typically comes with a lower interest rate than other loans and can offer access to money when needed. 

Do you have more questions about this type of loan? Contact an Interior Federal loan specialist today!

Want more credit union information?
Subscribe to eNews