Now that you've got the basic understanding of home equity loans and lines of credit, you may be ready to shop for your loan or HELOC. There are specific questions you should ask when you contact lenders, and be aware that the people in the telemarketing department might not know the answers. A loan officer or customer service representative may be your best bet.
13 questions to ask your home equity lender
These questions don't have to be asked in any particular order, but you should ask (and get answers to) as many of them as possible before deciding whether or not to borrow against your home equity.
- What is today's home equity or HELOC interest rate?
- On which index is that interest rate based?
- What is the margin over that index?
- Is there an interest rate ceiling?
- Is there a floor?
- Is there a term on the HELOC or is it open-ended?
- What are the HELOC advance and repayment terms -- or is a balloon payment required?
- Are there any points charged on the line (or loan)?
- What is the maximum percentage of the combined loan to value (CLTV) I can borrow?
- What, if any, are the closing costs (fees) I'll be required to pay?
- Is there an annual fee? If so, how much is it?
- Are there prepayment penalties or early termination fees? How much, and when do they expire?
- Is there a discount in the interest rate or fees if I have a relationship with your institution?
We suggest that you ask these questions of at least five -- preferably ten lenders offering home equity products. With these, you'll be able to "draw a picture" of what your local marketplace looks like, what normal pricing is, and who has the best deal for you.
Of course, as with any financial instrument, the best deal is in the eye of the beholder. It may be necessary to search hard to find the best deal for your budget.
This concludes our home equity borrowing guide. We welcome your comments and feedback, and if you want to learn more, please have a look at our other articles on Home Equity Loans and Lines of Credit.
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Back to HSH.com's Guide to Home Equity Loans and Home Equity Lines of Credit
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Home equity borrowing basicsOur new Guide to Home Equity Loans and Lines of Credit (HELOCs) starts here.
Accessing your home equityThis first article of Section II of our Guide to Home Equity Loans and Lines of Credit looks at the various ways lenders allow you to access your home equity, and discusses key differences between loans and lines.
Determining how much home equity you can borrowArticle 3 of Section I of HSH.com's Guide to Home Equity Loans and lines of credit, we explain how to reckon your equity stake and discuss criteria lenders use to decide how much they'll lend to you.
Using home equityThis is the second article within Section I of HSH.com's Guide to Home Equity Loans and Lines of Credit. In it, we discuss some common and valuable uses of your home's equity, and some you may want to avoid.
Understanding home equityThis is the first article within Section I of HSH.com's Guide to Home Equity Loans and Lines of Credit. In it, we explain what home equity is, how you get it, how you can build it and why you should protect it.