What is a Home Equity Loan, how does it Work? Types & Requirements

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When you’re a homeowner, your house isn’t just a place to live – it’s also a financial asset. One way to capitalize on this asset is by using a home equity loan. But, what exactly is a home equity loan? How does it work? Let’s delve deeper into these questions.

What is a Home Equity Loan?

A home equity loan is a type of second mortgage that allows homeowners to borrow money using the equity in their home as collateral. The “equity” in your home is the difference between the market value of your house and the amount you owe on your original mortgage.

How Does a Home Equity Loan Work?

Here’s a simple example to illustrate how a home equity loan works:

Suppose you have a home worth $300,000, and you owe $200,000 on your mortgage. In this case, you have $100,000 equity in your home. Now, depending on your lender and creditworthiness, you could borrow up to 85% of this equity, i.e., $85,000, in the form of a home equity loan.

Home Equity Loan Requirements

If you’re considering a home equity loan, it’s crucial to understand the requirements. Lenders look for specific criteria when deciding whether to approve a home equity loan. Here’s what you need to know.

1. Sufficient Home Equity

The first requirement is having enough equity in your home. Most lenders allow you to borrow up to 80-85% of your home’s value, minus what you owe on your mortgage.

2. Stable Income

Lenders need to see that you have a steady income and the ability to repay the loan. You’ll need to provide proof of employment and income.

3. Good Credit Score

A good credit score typically makes it easier to get approved for a home equity loan. Many lenders require a credit score of 620 or higher, but the best rates are often available to those with scores above 700.

4. Low Debt-to-Income Ratio

Your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) is another important factor. This is the percentage of your monthly income that goes towards paying debts. Lenders generally prefer a DTI of 43% or lower.

5. Appraisal

Lenders will require an appraisal to determine the current market value of your home. This helps them assess how much they’re willing to lend.

6. Documentation

You’ll need to provide various documents, including tax returns, bank statements, and proof of homeowners insurance.

Types of Home Equity Loans

There are primarily two types of home equity loans: Standard Home Equity Loans and Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC). Let’s delve into the details of each.

1. Standard Home Equity Loans

Often referred to as a second mortgage, a standard home equity loan allows you to borrow a lump sum of money against your home’s equity. The key characteristics of this type of loan include:

  • Fixed Rates: These loans typically have fixed interest rates, meaning your monthly payments remain the same throughout the life of the loan.
  • Lump-Sum: You receive the entire loan amount upfront and repay it over a predetermined term.
  • Secured Loan: Your home acts as collateral. If you default on the loan, the lender has the right to take your home through foreclosure.

2. Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC)

A HELOC works more like a credit card than a traditional loan. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Variable Rates: HELOCs generally have variable interest rates that fluctuate over time.
  • Revolving Credit: You can borrow from a HELOC, repay it, and borrow again up to your credit limit during the draw period.
  • Interest-Only Payments: During the draw period, you may have the option to make interest-only payments. After the draw period ends, you’ll need to start making principal plus interest payments.
  • Secured Loan: Like a standard home equity loan, your home is collateral for a HELOC.

Advantages and Disadvantages


  • Interest rates are typically lower than other loans or credit cards.
  • The interest you pay is often tax-deductible.


  • You’re putting your home at risk. If you can’t repay the loan, the lender could foreclose your home.
  • There may be closing costs and fees.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: Can I get a home equity loan with bad credit?

While it’s more challenging, some lenders do offer home equity loans to borrowers with lower credit scores. However, these loans often have higher interest rates.

Q2: How much can I borrow with a home equity loan?

Most lenders allow you to borrow up to 80-85% of your home’s value, minus the balance of your mortgage.

Q3: What if I have a high debt-to-income ratio?

A high DTI might make it more difficult to qualify for a home equity loan. If your DTI is high, consider paying down some of your debts before applying.

Q4: Can I get a home equity loan if I’m self-employed?

Yes, but you may need to provide additional documentation, such as two years of tax returns, to prove your income.


Q1: Which is better: a standard home equity loan or a HELOC?

Whether a standard home equity loan or a HELOC is better depends on your individual needs. If you need a lump sum for a one-time expense, a standard home equity loan might be a good choice. If you prefer more flexibility and are comfortable with variable interest rates, a HELOC could be better.

Q2: Can I have a home equity loan and a HELOC at the same time?

Yes, it’s possible to have both a home equity loan and a HELOC at the same time, but it’s important to remember that both loans use your home as collateral.

Q3: Are the interest rates for home equity loans and HELOCs the same?

No, home equity loans typically have fixed interest rates, while HELOCs usually have variable rates.

Q4: What can I use a home equity loan or HELOC for?

You can use a home equity loan or HELOC for any purpose, such as home renovations, education expenses, debt consolidation, or other major expenses.


In conclusion, a home equity loan can be a powerful tool for homeowners needing a large sum of money. However, Remember, meeting home equity loan requirements doesn’t guarantee loan approval, but they significantly improve your chances.

Also, borrowing against your home comes with risks. If you default on the loan, the lender could foreclose on your home. We advise that before applying for a home equity loan or HELOC, review your financial situation and consult with a financial advisor.

All rights reserved. Do not copy, rewrite or republish this content, in part or in whole, without proper credit to the source.

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About the Author: Femi Olawole

Femi Olawole is a seasoned blogger with interest on providing helpful Contents on online loan apps, Tech and Business.

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