What is a Home Equity Line of Credit or HELOC?

What is home equity line of credit or HELOC?

If you have used a credit card, you'll easily understand the concept of the home equity line of credit or HELOC. In simple term, a HELOC is a revolving credit, like the credit limit with your credit card. The difference is that a HELOC uses your home's equity as a collateral. Basically, it's a credit card secured with your home's equity.

And what is home equity?

What is Home Equity

Home equity is the difference between what your home market value and the total home mortgage you owed. For example, your home is now worth $1 million, and you have a home mortgage of $300,000. So in this case, your home equity is $700,000.

Most banks do not let you borrow 100% of your home market value. The most I've seen are 90% and 95%.

How much home equity line of credit can you qualify for?

The qualification is very similar to qualifying for a home loan. You still have to show proof of income, good credit score, appraisal, etc. The general rule to figure out how much you qualify for is 80% of your home equity.

We'll use the same example we used earlier. So your home is worth $1 million in the current market. 80% of that $1 million is $800,000. We then subtract your current outstanding mortgage of $300,000. Therefore, you qualify for up to $500,000 in HELOC, given you meet income and credit score requirements.

What Can You Use a HELOC for?

HELOC uses

You’ve probably hear many times radio or TV advertising HELOC to finance your dream vacation, wedding, dream car, dream wedding, etc.

You should see me roll my eyes when these advertising show up…these are the worst way use the money.

First of all, when you borrow money to buy things that do not return money, that’s bad debts. You’re digging a hole for yourself.

A better use of the HELOC is to pay of your bad debts, such as high interest credit card balance, car loans, college loans, etc.

Even though the bank generally does not want you to use the money for real estate investing (because they think any investing is risky), but that’s the way to go.

I purchased my first rental property with a HELOC from my primary residence. And my rental property is making money for me while I’m sleeping, and the equity is of course growing every day like a healthy child.

Some banks may allow you to refinance your existing home mortgage into a HELOC. This is a rare strategy that not many people know of.

You can technically use the HELOC to pay off your mortgage in 5-7 years . I’m serious, no kidding…

Many local banks and federal credit unions offer very enticing introductory rates.

Homeowners’ Guide to Avoid Foreclosure at All Cost

Short Sale vs Foreclosure

Homeowners facing economic hardships may have a foreclosure looming, but are often too proud or uninformed to do anything about it, until its too late.  Before considering bankruptcy or allowing the bank to foreclose, consider a short sale.  

Unlike a short sale, foreclosures are initiated by lenders only. The lender moves against delinquent borrowers to force the sale of a home, hoping to make good on its initial investment of the mortgage.

Also, unlike most short sales, many foreclosures take place when the homeowner has abandoned the home. If the occupants have not yet left the home, they are evicted by the lender in the foreclosure process.

Once the lender has access to the home, it orders its own appraisal and proceeds with trying to sell the home. Foreclosures do not normally take as long to complete as a short sale, because the lender is concerned with liquidating the asset quickly. Foreclosed homes may also be auctioned off at a "trustee sale," where buyers bid on homes in a public process.

In most circumstances, homeowners who experience foreclosure need to wait a minimum of five years to purchase another home. The foreclosure is kept on a person's credit report for up to seven years.

Although there is no guarantee your lender will agree to a short sale, here is a list of the benefits of participating in a short sale, versus being foreclosed upon. 

Benefits Of A Short Sale Versus Foreclosure

• Homeowner can apply for a short sale even if they're not behind in payments.

• There in ZERO COST to the homeowner in short sale. The lender pays all the selling costs and real estate commission. Meaning the homeowner has nothing to lose!

• The homeowner receives professional guidance from real estate agent when doing a short sale.

• A short sale may postpone the foreclosure action to allow enough time for house to be sold.

• Homeowner may qualify for financial or relocation incentives from the lender, and receive up to $10,000 for relocation from a government program called HAFA which provides an option for homeowners transitioning out of their mortgage.

• A short sale only affects your credit score between 50-70 points vs 200-400 points with foreclosure.

• Homeowner may qualify for another mortgage loan as soon as 2 years, as compared to 7 years with a foreclosure.

• Doing a short sale avoids foreclosure and waives the full deficiency owed by the homeowner. They can now walk away from the property free and clear.

• Possible tax relief from cancellation of any debt income.

• Short sales are not likely to affect jobs that require a security clearance.

• It is easier to recover financially and emotionally from a short sale than a foreclosure.

If you plan to simply pack up, leave and “let the bank have the property”. This is the worst idea ever for the following reasons:

• If you leave the house, you will still owe the balance on the mortgage plus penalties and late fees (which in many cases is tens of thousands of dollars). This means that by law you are responsible for paying off this balance over the next 10 to 20 years for a property you no longer own!

• If you walk away from the house, the bank will still try to recover the money. They can legally do this by garnishing your future wages and investments!

• If you let the property go into foreclosure, your credit score can be affected up to 400 points. This means that it is going to be hard to find somewhere to rent (if they do credit checks). It is going to be hard to get another mortgage for a very long time with a foreclosure on your record. It is also going to be hard to get credit (in general) with a foreclosure on your record.

• Having a foreclosure on your record can also be a hindrance in getting a job, especially ones that require security clearance.

Read What is Short Sale?.

 

Short Sale vs Foreclosure