British Columbia Sun

What is a home equity line of credit (HELOC) and how does it work?

A home equity line of credit (HELOC) is a type of loan that allows homeowners to borrow against the equity they have built up in their home. HELOCs are a form of revolving credit, meaning that the borrower can draw funds as needed up to a certain limit and repay them over time, similar to a credit card. In this article, we will explore how HELOCs work and their benefits and risks.

How Does a HELOC Work?

When a homeowner takes out a HELOC, they are essentially borrowing against the equity they have built up in their home. Equity is the difference between the market value of the home and the amount owed on the mortgage. For example, if a home is worth $500,000 and the mortgage balance is $300,000, the equity in the home is $200,000.

A HELOC allows the homeowner to borrow a portion of this equity, typically up to 80% of the home’s value, minus the outstanding mortgage balance. The borrower can access the funds as needed during a set draw period, usually 10 years, and repay the balance over a longer repayment period, typically 15 to 20 years.

During the draw period, the borrower can withdraw funds from the HELOC as needed, up to the limit set by the lender. The borrower only pays interest on the amount borrowed and can choose to repay the interest and/or principal during the draw period. Once the draw period ends, the repayment period begins, and the borrower must make monthly payments to repay the outstanding balance.

Benefits of a HELOC

There are several benefits to taking out a HELOC. The most significant advantage is the flexibility it provides. Borrowers can access funds as needed and only pay interest on the amount borrowed, which can be a more cost-effective option than taking out a lump sum loan. HELOCs also typically have lower interest rates than credit cards or personal loans, making them an attractive option for debt consolidation or home improvement projects.

Another benefit of a HELOC is the tax-deductibility of the interest paid. If the funds are used for home improvement, the interest may be tax-deductible, which can provide additional savings for the borrower.

Risks of a HELOC

Like any loan, there are risks associated with a HELOC. The most significant risk is that the borrower’s home serves as collateral for the loan, and failure to repay the loan could result in foreclosure. Additionally, the borrower’s credit score and income may impact their ability to qualify for a HELOC, and the interest rate may be variable, meaning that it can fluctuate over time.

Borrowers should also be aware of the potential for overspending with a HELOC. Because the funds are available as needed, it can be tempting to borrow more than necessary or spend the funds on non-essential items. This can lead to increased debt and difficulty repaying the loan.


A HELOC can be a useful tool for homeowners looking to borrow against their home’s equity. The flexibility and lower interest rates make it an attractive option for debt consolidation or home improvement projects. However, borrowers should be aware of the risks associated with a HELOC, including the potential for overspending and the risk of foreclosure if they fail to repay the loan. As with any financial decision, it is important to weigh the benefits and risks carefully and seek professional advice if necessary.

Show More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *