When (and When Not) to Tap Your Mecosta County Home Equity
Your Mecosta County home is your castle, sure — but it’s also a great deal more than that. In addition to being the place where you relax after work, spend time with family, and generally live your life, it’s also the most substantial investment most people ever make. Much of its prominence is due to the many advantages home ownership brings in the personal financial realm.
In addition to the ongoing tax savings its mortgage provides, it’s the home equity — the difference between market value and the amount owed — that’s such a valuable contribution. A Mecosta County property’s equity adds considerable financial flexibility in the form of easily obtainable home equity loans.
That’s how your Mecosta County home can be the enabler for financing key life events — important undertakings like college, home improvements, or major debt consolidation. It’s a mainstream activity, and one that’s growing in popularity. Credit reporting firm Equifax tells us that the number of home equity loans have increased by 16.1% over last year; home equity lines of credit, 21.4%.
But at the same time, it’s the ease with which home equity financing can be arranged that should be cause for caution. Before anyone takes advantage of this kind of financing, they should clearly consider what they are getting into, the better to decide when and when not to make use of it.
There are two forms of home equity credit — the home equity loan (HEL), and the home equity line of credit (HELOC). HELs are straight forward loans, created and retired when you take a one-time, lump-sum of cash, then pay it back, with interest, over time. HELOCs work more like credit card accounts. You are approved for a line of credit with a top limit, and you can spend as much as you want until you reach the limit. You may use it or not as you wish. In fact, with most HELOCs, you're actually issued a credit card or checkbook to use as you see fit.
Deciding when home equity financing is appropriate is an individual decision, but a conventional rule of thumb is that it is usually best reserved for single events. One good use is for home improvements, since they actually add equity to the underlying collateral. Another is for debt consolidation when it has the effect of lowering monthly interest outlays.
When are home equity loans not a good idea? For one, if you don't need a lot of money, since opening a HEL or HELOC might involve closing costs and other fees, make sure it makes financial sense. And always look to the future. Since failing to make timely payments can actually force the sale of your home, any time you are less than certain your cash flow will support repayment, better look for other forms of financing. Your home is a castle worth protecting; you want to be sure that you are the single voice to say if and when a move is in order.
And of course, whenever you are contemplating a major move, give me a call!