Debt Consolidation

How Much Can You Borrow on a Home Equity Loan?

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If you own a home and you need cash to deal with a financial emergency, pay for renovations, or consolidate debt, you could borrow from your home equity to cover these expenses. But, you may wonder, how much can you borrow on a home equity loan?

Generally, lenders let you borrow between 75 and 90 percent of your home equity. However, there are many other factors that affect how much equity you can borrow from your home. These include your home’s appraised value, the type of loan you take out, the terms of your loan offer, your income, your credit history, and more.

To help you find out how much equity you can borrow from your home and understand the factors that influence how much you can borrow, we’ve answered some of the questions homeowners ask about calculating equity, how to qualify, loan options, and more.

How much can you borrow on a home equity loan or line of credit?

To figure out how much you can borrow from your home, start by figuring out how much equity you have. To do this, subtract what you still owe on your mortgage from the current value of your home. Say your home is worth $350,000 and you still owe $200,000 on your mortgage. This would give you $150,000 in equity.

Next, figure out how much of this equity you can borrow. Since lenders usually only let you borrow 75 to 90 percent of your home equity, multiply your current home equity by .75 and .9 to get an idea. So if you have $150,000 in equity, you may be able to borrow between $112,500 and $135,000 from your home before closing costs and fees. But make sure you use your equity wisely, especially if your goal is to eventually pay off your mortgage.

How do you qualify for a home equity loan?

After figuring out how much equity you can borrow from your home, it’s time to figure out if you even qualify for a home equity loan. After all, lenders aren’t going to hand over cash just because your home value is higher than your mortgage. Here are some of the factors they consider before deciding whether or not to lend to you:

  • Your credit score. Your credit score generally needs to be higher than 620, but you want to aim for between 621-759. Anything over 760 will garner you the best rates available. If your score is too low, work on increasing it first by paying down debt.
  • Your credit history. Most lenders will be interested in the types of accounts you have open, your payment history, and whether you have any outstanding balances in collections. If you have a high degree of outstanding credit, you may not qualify (even with good credit).
  • Your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. The percentage of your overall monthly income that goes to paying debt is called your debt-to-income ratio, or DTI. If it’s too high, you may have trouble borrowing from your home equity. In most cases, lenders want to see your DTI at 36 percent or lower.

The factors explained above are just some of the indicators lenders may use to establish your ability to repay your loan. They can also look into your employment situation, your income and assets, and whether you’ve taken out any other large loans recently.

What are your home equity loan options?

If you meet the qualifications above, you may qualify for a home equity loan. But you should know that you have several different options. Which one is right for you will depend on how you want to use the money. Here are the three standard home equity loan options available to you:

Cash-out refinance loan

With the cash-out refinance method, you’re refinancing your existing mortgage and creating a new, larger loan. You’re adding the borrowed amount to the principal of your existing mortgage, with the result that you still have only one lien against your property. Then you pay the bigger debt over the life of your re-financed mortgage terms.

Cash-out refi loans allow you to take money out of your home and refinance your current mortgage rate. Because of this, cash-out refi loans are often best for people who want to get a lower rate on their mortgage and pull money out of their home at the same time.

Home equity line of credit (HELOC)

A home equity line of credit (or HELOC) works much like a credit card in that you get a line of credit up to the maximum amount available to you, and can borrow from it whenever you want. This is a more flexible option, as you control how much you’re borrowing at any given time. Additionally, the interest rates are typically lower than other lines of credit and will be fixed for the life of the loan, so you don’t have to worry about fluctuation.

Since HELOC loans let you borrow equity from your home over five years (also known as the draw period), these loans may be best for people who have several upcoming expenses they need to cover.

Traditional home equity loan

Also known as a “second mortgage,” this option is a good way to get access to a lump sum of cash at a reasonable interest rate. The benefits of a traditional home equity loan include fixed rates with no up-front fees and fixed monthly installments for the life of the loan. In addition, the interest may be tax deductible if you plan to use the money for home renovations.

Traditional home equity loans allow you to borrow a lump sum from your home equity and use that money however you want. Home equity loans can be best for people who need a large amount of cash all at once. Many people use traditional home equity loans to pay off debt, cover a home renovation project, or pay off student loans. It may be difficult to get a home equity loan with bad credit, but it’s not impossible.

What fees and other costs will you have to pay?

Like any other type of loan, borrowing from your home equity comes with a cost. Similar to your original mortgage, there are fees and closing costs associated with borrowing from your home equity. The costs vary depending on the lender, but usually range from 2 to 5 percent of the total loan amount. You may also have to pay fees for:

  • Home appraisal
  • Loan application
  • Attorney
  • Title search
  • Paperwork filed
  • Credit report pulled
  • Property tax proof
  • Flood evaluation certificate (if applicable)

While these fees can get expensive, they could be worth the cost depending on how you plan to use your home equity.

Borrowing equity from your home: the bottom line

If you borrow equity from your home for the right reasons, shop around for the best terms, and assess the risk factors very carefully, borrowing from the equity in your home can be a smart strategy. But it can’t be stressed enough: do your homework, read the small print, and—above all—make the loan payments on time every month.

Make the right decisions for your financial future

If you’re asking, “How much can you borrow on a home equity loan?” then you already understand one of the benefits of home ownership. Learning how to manage money and planning for your future doesn’t need to stop here, though. Work toward achieving your financial goals, whether it’s a home equity loan or saving for college, by checking out our easy-to-follow financial guide. Get started by downloading our free guide today.

Read Next: 5 Smart Ways to Use Your Home Equity

Janie Basile is a freelance content specialist from Scotland with over 15 years’ history of researching and crafting articles related to all aspects of insurance and financial services. When she’s not reading fiction or writing facts, she spends her time evangelizing the benefits of haggis and single malt whiskey, having more success with one of those than the other