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10 min read Feb 08, 2024

Cash-Out Refinance vs. HELOC: Which Is Better for You?

When homeowners need access to cash, they may consider using the equity in their home through either a cash-out refinance or a home equity line of credit (HELOC). Both options allow homeowners to access funds, but there are important differences to consider before choosing which one is right for you.

A cash-out refinance involves refinancing your current mortgage for a larger amount than you currently owe, and then receiving the difference in cash. The new mortgage replaces your old one and often has a fixed interest rate. This option is best if you need a lump sum of cash for a specific purpose, such as home renovations, debt consolidation, or a major purchase.

On the other hand, a HELOC is a line of credit that allows you to borrow against your home’s equity without refinancing your existing mortgage. You can borrow and repay the funds as needed, up to a predetermined credit limit. This option is best for ongoing expenses or unpredictable needs, such as home repairs or medical bills.

In this blog, we will provide a detailed comparison of cash-out refinances and HELOCs, including their pros and cons, interest rates, fees, and eligibility requirements. By understanding the differences between these two options, you can make an informed decision about which one is best for your financial situation.

Understanding Cash-Out Refinancing: Definition

A cash-out refinance and a home equity line of credit (HELOC) are two methods for homeowners to access the equity in their homes.

A cash-out refinance involves refinancing your existing mortgage for an amount greater than what you currently owe, and then taking the difference in cash. For example, if your home is worth $300,000 and you owe $200,000 on your mortgage, you could refinance for $250,000 and receive $50,000 in cash. This cash can be used for any purpose, such as home renovations, paying off high-interest debt, or other expenses.

A home equity line of credit (HELOC) is a type of revolving credit that uses your home’s equity as collateral. Like a credit card, you can borrow and repay as needed up to a certain limit. The interest rate on a HELOC is typically variable and may be higher than a traditional mortgage rate. HELOCs are often used for home improvements or ongoing expenses, such as college tuition or medical bills.

Both options allow homeowners to access the equity in their homes, but there are some key differences. A cash-out refinance involves replacing your current mortgage with a new one, while a HELOC allows you to borrow against your home’s equity without changing your existing mortgage. Additionally, a cash-out refinance typically results in a fixed interest rate, while a HELOC usually has a variable rate.

HELOCs:

  • Access to funds: With a HELOC, you have ongoing access to funds that you can borrow and repay as needed, up to a predetermined credit limit.
  • Interest rates: HELOCs usually have variable interest rates, which means your payments may fluctuate over time based on changes in the market.
  • Fees: HELOCs may come with fees such as an annual fee, closing costs, or early termination fees.
  • Eligibility: To qualify for a HELOC, you typically need a credit score of at least 620, a debt-to-income ratio of 43% or less, and at least 20% equity in your home.
  • Uses: HELOCs are often used for ongoing expenses, such as home repairs, college tuition, or medical bills.

Cash-Out Refinancing:

  • Access to funds: With cash-out refinancing, you receive a lump sum of cash upfront, which you can use for any purpose.
  • Interest rates: Cash-out refinancing usually comes with a fixed interest rate, which means your payments will remain the same over the life of the loan.
  • Fees: Cash-out refinancing may come with fees such as closing costs, application fees, and appraisal fees.
  • Eligibility: To qualify for cash-out refinancing, you typically need a credit score of at least 620, a debt-to-income ratio of 50% or less, and at least 20% equity in your home.
  • Uses: Cash-out refinancing is often used for one-time expenses, such as home renovations, debt consolidation, or a major purchase.

Overlap: Cash-Out Refinancing & HELOCs

Cash-out refinancing and HELOCs overlap in that they both allow you to tap into the equity in your home to access cash. Here are a few additional points of overlap:

  • Both use your home equity: Both options are secured by your home equity, which means that your home is used as collateral for the loan.
  • Both have eligibility requirements: To qualify for either option, you typically need a good credit score, a low debt-to-income ratio, and at least 20% equity in your home.
  • Both can be used for home improvements: Both cash-out refinancing and HELOCs can be used for home improvements or renovations, which can increase the value of your home.
  • Both have tax implications: Interest payments on both options may be tax-deductible if the funds are used for home improvements. However, it’s important to consult with a tax professional for guidance on your specific situation.
  • Both can result in foreclosure: If you default on either loan, your lender can foreclose on your home. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you can afford the payments before taking out either loan.

Differ: Cash-Out Refinancing & HELOCs

Cash-out refinancing and HELOCs differ in several key ways. Here are a few points of difference:

  • Access to funds: With cash-out refinancing, you receive a lump sum of cash upfront, while with a HELOC, you have ongoing access to funds that you can borrow and repay as needed.
  • Interest rates: Cash-out refinancing usually comes with a fixed interest rate, while HELOCs often have variable interest rates, which means your payments may fluctuate over time based on changes in the market.
  • Repayment terms: Cash-out refinancing often has longer repayment terms, while HELOCs typically have shorter repayment terms.
  • Fees: The fees associated with each option can differ, with cash-out refinancing often coming with higher closing costs and HELOCs often coming with annual fees or early termination fees.
  • Use: Cash-out refinancing is often used for one-time expenses, such as home renovations or debt consolidation, while HELOCs are often used for ongoing expenses or unpredictable needs, such as home repairs or medical bills.

Should I Refinance or Take Out a HELOC?

Whether you should refinance or get a HELOC depends on your individual financial situation and goals. Here are a few factors to consider when deciding which option is right for you:

Your current interest rate: If you have a high-interest rate on your current mortgage, refinancing could lower your interest rate and save you money in the long run. On the other hand, if you have a low-interest rate and don’t want to risk losing it, a HELOC may be a better option.
How much cash you need: If you need a large amount of cash upfront, cash-out refinancing may be a better option. However, if you need ongoing access to cash, a HELOC may be more suitable.
Your credit score: If you have a low credit score, you may have trouble qualifying for a HELOC or getting favorable terms. Refinancing may be a better option in this case.
Fees and closing costs: Both options come with fees and closing costs, so it’s important to compare the costs associated with each option to determine which one is more affordable for you.
Repayment terms: Refinancing often comes with longer repayment terms, which can result in lower monthly payments but ultimately result in paying more interest over time. A HELOC usually has shorter repayment terms, which means you may have to make higher monthly payments but pay less in interest overall.

» Also Read: Maximizing Tax Benefits & Risks

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