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How much you could borrow to pay off your debts usually depends on a combined loan-to-value ratio of 80% or 90% of the value of your home. Naturally, the interest you’re charged will depend on your credit score and how good you’ve been about making payments on your debts.
A lower rate of interest
One of the biggest advantages of a home equity loan is that the interest on it will be less than the average interest of your current debts. These loans are relatively easy to get if you have equity built up in your house. In addition, the interest you pay on a home equity loan or HELOC is deductible just as it is with a conventional mortgage -- if you itemize your taxes. In fact, a home equity loan is the only type of interest you can deduct under any circumstances except for qualified student-loan interest.
The biggest possible problem with a home equity loan is pretty obvious. If you don't repay the loan, there can be horrible consequences. If you can't make your loan payments, you might lose your house. Your credit score will suffer dramatically and it may be some time before you can get any other type of financing.
Do a careful analysis
You can avoid this by doing a careful analysis of your cash flow to make sure you will be able to make that new payment every month. It's also good to make more than the minimum payment required although this may not be important if you are using the money to consolidate high-interest debts that are causing you serious financial problems.
A hypothetical example
Here is a hypothetical example of how you could use a home equity loan or home equity line of credit to consolidate your debts. For the purpose of this example let's assume you have the following debts:
- $10,000 in high-interest credit card debt with a monthly payment of $172
- A $4500 car loan with an 8% interest in a monthly payment of $330
- $3300 in student ßdebt where you defaulted on the loan but that prior to this your monthly payment was $150.
Again for the sake of the example we will say that you have a 30-year mortgage on your house and $50,000 in equity. However, you still owe $100,000. This means that you have debts totaling less than $40,000 and could consolidate them with a home equity loan or HELOC, as you would be well under the 80% loan-to-value ratio. You would trade three monthly payments for a single, lower payment and the interest would be deductible. In addition, if you pay off those three loans, it will improve your credit – especially because that student loan you defaulted on will now be off your credit reports.
A home equity loan or line of credit can be a useful tool if you are a responsible homeowner and need to consolidate your debts. One of these loans will provide easy access to capital at lower rates of interest, reduced payments and even a tax deduction. Unfortunately, homeowners who abuse these loans and don’t make their payments can literally find themselves out on the street.