Homeowners across the United States hit another record high this year: $8.1 trillion in available equity at the end of the first quarter.
With that, the average homeowner now has $153,000 in equity, leading many to consider whether they should tap into those funds. But choosing how to use your equity can be confusing.
"In today's environment where many buyers have more equity in their home, it's more important than ever to make sure they make the right financial decision if they want to borrow money," said Caleb Bigham, director of mortgage capital markets at BOK Financial®.
A home equity line of credit (HELOC) allows the borrower to take out a specific amount of money when needed, based on available equity. The borrower pays interest only on the funds advanced.
A cash-out refinance, on the other hand, allows mortgage holders to refinance their loan and potentially add additional money to the new mortgage loan based on the equity available. The homeowners receive this money in a lump sum of cash to use as they see fit.
Both options can provide the resources homeowners need to meet other financial goals, such as:
- Making home improvements
- Consolidating debt into lower interest rates
- Paying for higher education or other large expenses
- A combination of the above or more
Making the right decision
While there are several factors that can affect a borrower's decision about which financing option to choose, one way to decide can be based on how you want to use the extra money.
"Educating yourself and choosing a knowledgeable home lending partner to provide consultative advice can make all the difference when you're making a big financial decision that has long-term implications like this," Bigham said.
For example, if you are contemplating an expense of a specific amount and with more certain timing, such as putting in a swimming pool for $50,000, it might make more sense to do a cash-out refinance.
But if you're not sure about the timing or use of your available equity, such as deciding between putting in a pool, remodeling your kitchen or paying down debt, the flexibility of a HELOC may be better for your situation, Bigham said. "There's really no one-size-fits-all answer. What we recommend is finding a lender that will take a consultative approach, ask the right questions, and consider all of that information to help you figure out which product best meets your needs."