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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Are Equity Loans Still Attractive?

By Dianne Logan

The global meltdown caused by the bursting of the equity loans bubble in the United States had left all of us wondering whether home loans are still an option for raising money. However, the hard fact is that home equity loans would never cease to be attractive for several reasons. Before finding out why, let us understand the various types of loans available. They are equity loans, lines of credit, home mortgage, refinancing, etc.

Equity Loans are Ideal as Short Term Home Loans

If you are planning to have a home loan for a short period, with the intention of selling your property after some time, then equity loans are ideal for you. This is particularly true when the prime lending rate by banks is lower than the average interest rate on 30-year fixed rate mortgages. In such a scenario, the rate charged by the lenders on home equity loans would be lower than the rates for first mortgages. If you are sure you would be moving out of the property in a few years, then you would be able to save thousands of dollars through such lower rate equity loans.

However, equity loans are normally taken out by people for raising extra cash on an already existing first mortgage. In such a case, the equity loan rate would definitely be higher than the mortgage loan rate. In spite of that, it is advisable to avail the equity loan as cash out refinance. This is because even these higher lending rates would always be lower than other cash options like personal loans, credit card loans, etc. Moreover, normally, home equity loans do not carry closing costs, which might amount to a few thousands in the case of first mortgages. From these viewpoints also, home equity loans are still attractive.

Banks Look at Equity Loans Differently

You might be aware of the recent crisis in the home mortgage sector. The banks bundled their home mortgages and sold them to refinance institutions like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These refinance bundles ultimately reached the hands of speculators. The vagaries in speculation led to a sudden crash and the financial institutions were caught unawares.

In the case of equity loans, the banks generally keep the loans within their banking divisions. They also keep the interest rates on equity loans directly linked to the short term bond rates and the fed rates. This ensures that there is a constant review of home equity loans by the lenders. Hence, they have more control on the loan amounts disbursed by them as equity loans and disburse equity loans even now in a freer manner.

Further, banks always like total refinancing for earning a higher income. For example, let us assume that you have a first mortgage for $50,000 for 10 years at a rate of 7% per annum. If you refinance the mortgage for a $75,000 loan, then even at a rate of 6% per annum, you might need to spread the repayment for 15 years due to the larger loan amount. In this case, the total interest paid out by you on the refinance would be much more. Under the circumstances, it would be ideal to continue the initial first mortgage of $50,000 and get an equity loan of $25,000 separately, repayable in a shorter period of 5-8 years. This would result in a lower interest payment. From this perspective also, equity loans are attractive.

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