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As a homeowner, you have additional financial responsibility, including mortgage, property taxes, home maintenance, and other expenses. You may also be carrying high-interest debt, such as credit cards. Fortunately, there are ways to pay off your debt faster with help from your home.
A home equity loan allows you to use the equity in your home to consolidate your debts at a lower interest rate. However, this strategy has some drawbacks. Here’s what you need to know.
How a Home Equity Loan Consolidates Debt
Home equity is the difference between what you owe on your home (the mortgage balance) and its current value, usually based on the current appraised value. You cannot get a home equity loan unless you have some equity in your home; lenders usually look for at least 15% equity in order to lend them to you.
The more you pay to your lender, the more your capital increases. Another way equity increases is when the overall real estate market is healthy and home values (or sale prices) in your area increase. A home equity loan allows you to borrow against that equity in the form of a lump sum installment loan.
This money can be used for a variety of purposes, such as renovating your home, paying for college, covering emergency expenses, and consolidating debt.
Home equity loans are a good debt consolidation tool because the interest rates are quite low compared to other forms of debt. Once your home equity loan is closed and you receive your funds, you can use the money to pay off your existing debt and then make a one-time payment to your lender until the loan is paid off, usually over a period of five to 20 years.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using a Home Equity Loan to Consolidate Debt
When deciding whether or not to use a home equity loan to consolidate your debt, you should first consider a few important pros and cons.
- Lower interest rates: If you’re looking for ways to borrow money or consolidate debt, a home equity loan offers some of the lowest rates available. Currently, their annual percentage rate (APR) is around 4% to 6%. Personal loans and credit cards, on the other hand, often have double-digit interest rates.
- Easy access to financing: Although there are certain income and debt balance requirements that you must meet, a home equity loan tends to be easier to obtain than other types of debt. This is partly because your property serves as collateral, so there is less risk to the lender than an unsecured loan, which has no assets used as collateral, as they can repossess the collateral. in the event of a defect. Therefore, the lender is more willing to offer a home equity loan.
- Tax deduction potential: You may be able to write off some of the interest you pay on your home loan. However, you can only take advantage of this deduction if you use the money to pay for home improvements. If home renovations are part of your larger financial plan, it may be worth relying on a home equity loan rather than a credit card, especially if you’re also trying to pay off your high-interest debt.
- Risk of losing your home: Since your property serves as collateral, you could lose your home in the event of late payment or default. As long as you’re able to track your payments, this shouldn’t be a problem.
- Your house could fall under water: Since a home equity loan relies on the value you have accumulated in your home, there is a chance that you will end up under water on your mortgage (you owe more than the value of the property) if the value of the house drops. This is not a problem if you plan to stay in your home for several years, or long enough for the property to recover in value. But if you were hoping to move soon, you might suffer a loss.
- There could be more fees: You may need to pay to have your home appraised by a professional to determine the value to get a home equity loan. Typically this costs a few hundred dollars but can be higher depending on where you live and the type of property. You may also have to pay closing costs on the loan.
Is a home equity loan the best way to consolidate debt?
If you’re in a strong financial position, leveraging the equity in your home to get rid of high-interest debt faster is a smart move. However, if you are not planning to stay in your home for long or you are not sure that your income will be stable throughout the repayment period, you may be better off choosing another debt consolidation method. .
Other Debt Consolidation Options
There are several ways to consolidate your high interest debt without risking your property.
1. 0% Balance Transfer Cards
To attract new business or issue cards to existing customers, credit card companies often offer a 0% introductory APR to customers who rollover their existing credit card balance, usually from a competitor.
The introductory period typically lasts 12-18 months, during which this balance incurs no interest charges. This means that your payments go 100% towards paying off the principal balance, allowing you to get rid of this debt faster. Usually there is a 2% to 5% balance transfer fee upfront. The key is to pay off your balance before the end of the introductory period or you’ll start racking up interest charges again.
2. Take out a personal loan
Personal loans, which are loans you can use to pay almost anything up to a predetermined amount, can also help consolidate your debt. Rates are generally lower than credit card rates, at least for borrowers with good credit.
There are two types of personal loans: secured and unsecured. Secured loans are secured by collateral, such as a bank account or vehicle. This helps reduce the lender’s risk, which results in a lower interest rate. Unsecured loans allow you to borrow money without providing collateral; the trade-off is that the rate may be a bit higher and you may be subject to stricter requirements.
3. Develop a debt management plan
If you’re having trouble making payments on unsecured debt, such as credit cards or personal loans, you might consider working with a nonprofit credit counseling agency to develop a debt management plan. debt (DMP). An accredited advisor will take care of your payments and negotiate on your behalf with lenders to reduce the cost of your debt. You will then make your reduced payments directly to the agency and receive regular progress reports. Registration for a DMP may be chargeable.
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