Your home is your most valuable asset and also allows you to obtain further home equity loans and credits when you are in urgent need of further loans and credit. When people refer to these loans, they generally refer to the terms ‘home equity loans’ and ‘home equity lines of credit’ interchangeably. Though they may seem to mean the same thing, they are in fact quite different in nature.
While home equity loans are more like the traditional mortgages, in which you get the loan amount as a lump sum and you then repay the interest as installments over a set stretch of time. Home equity loans work on the principles of fixed rates and fixed payments.
On the other hand, home equity lines of credit work more like credit cards. This form of loan allows you to borrow an amount up to a certain limit. As you keep on paying off certain portions of your debts, it opens up more credit limit for you. These loans however, work on the principle of variable interest rates.
Though home equity line of credit works on similar principles to the credit card, there are still some differences between these two forms of credit. Credit cards come with the typical open ended feature. But this is not the case with the home equity credit line. There is a specified time frame, usually about ten years, during which you are allowed to draw any amount within your credit limit. During this period you are required to pay back the interest amount only. On completion of the drawing period, you can no longer make any further withdrawals from the credit account. The drawing period is then followed by the payment period, which is the time you have to start paying off the principal as well as the rest of the interests. Certain financial institutions may renew the draw period, but that only adds to your burden seeing that sooner or later you have to eventually pay off the principal.
Once you obtain a home equity line of credit, you will be able to borrow within your credit limit whenever the need arises. You have to use special checks to draw on your home equity credit line. There are also certain financial institutions and some credit plans that allow the borrower to use a credit card to draw cash on their credit line.
There are certain limitations with regard to how you make use of the home equity credit line. There are some plans where you are required to take out a minimum initial amount when the credit line is initially activated. Some plans may also fix a minimum amount that you have to draw each time you are withdrawing from the credit line.