6 Apr, 2021
line of credit vs mortgage for house renovations

Line Of Credit Vs Mortgage: What’s The Difference?

Choosing between a line of credit vs a mortgage is simple once you understand how each one of them works. In this post, we’ll explain the differences between the two most popular home equity loans homeowners can choose from, so you can make an informed decision. 

We hope this article will help clarify any questions you might have and give you a roundup on the basics of home equity lines of credit vs mortgages.

Your Home Is Your Biggest Asset

This is true for most of us. Many people struggle, save, and sacrifice a lot just to have a place to call “home”. But what if other than investing all your hard-earned cash into buying a new home, you’d also start taking advantage of the equity your property provides? Many homeowners do not even think of this possibility.

If you care about financial safety and want to make a long-term investment, differentiating between a line of credit vs a mortgage can help you do just that. Knowing how each one of them works will help you save money and reach financial freedom. 

Before resorting to a home equity loan though, you first need to be aware of all the advantages and disadvantages the property you have or are looking to buy can bring you. 

For example, a home’s location can offer an incentive to lenders, meaning added financial perks to you. These could include the opportunity to choose a mortgage that best suits your needs. In other words, avoid purchasing a house only based on how much you like it. Start thinking of the long-term opportunities its market value can bring. 

Talk with a trusted real estate agent and follow their recommendations on what is best to buy, where and when. 

Mortgage loans and home equity lines of credit are different not only in terms of what they do, but also on what you choose to do with them. To help you turn into a pro when deciding what’s best for you between a line of credit vs a mortgage, let’s look at what each one of them actually does.

 family deciding between home equity line of credit vs mortgage

How Do Mortgages Work?

A mortgage is a long-term loan. It’s designed to help you not only buy a home or a piece of land, but also to continue owning it. Once you own a property, even if you are still paying on your first mortgage, you can take out a second mortgage by tapping into the equity your real estate provides.  

Just like with the first mortgage, the amount of money you borrow on the second loan will be secured against the value of your home. Keep in mind that the interest on a second mortgage is tax-deductible. On the other hand, HELOC interest can only be deducted if the funds are used to buy, improve or build the property that’s securing the loan.

When looking to understand what a line of credit is vs a mortgage, you should know first there aren’t only differences between the two, but also similarities. The main one is that both use your home as collateral till you pay them off. 

Most mortgages run for as long as 30 years, with each payment you make being blended. What does this mean? It means that each monthly installment is made up of both the principal rate and the interest. The principal is the sum you’ve agreed to pay back, while the interest is the cost of borrowing that money in the first place. 

Standard mortgages have either fixed or variable interest rates. With variable mortgages, rates fluctuate throughout the term.

Understanding The Different Types Of Lenders 

You can get a mortgage from many types of lenders. You can go for traditional ones like banks and credit unions, or private ones also called alternative or B-lenders, who are those filling the gaps between banks and borrowers. 

To approve your loan, most traditional lenders in Canada will want to see proof of your income, and whether you have any debts. They might also ask for information about household bills, child maintenance, or personal expenses. All to ensure you’ll be able to keep up repayments. 

On the other hand, private lenders’ loan approval requirements tend to be more relaxed, with many of them holding your property as their sole interest. These lenders would lend up to 75% of your home’s value. 

If you want to choose a loan with the lowest rates and best terms, it’s best to work with a reputable mortgage broker in BC. Your broker can help you compare different mortgage rates and guide your steps on choosing the best option for your situation. 

Before talking with a broker though, you need to make your homework regarding:

  • What type of mortgage you want
  • What is the loan amount you are after
  • How much down payment you can afford to pay
  • What property you are looking to buy
  • How much you want to borrow
  • For how many years are you willing to pay back the money you’ve borrowed
  • What interest, and rate, you wish to borrow at
  • You are planning to purchase an investment property
 Getting a heloc

How Do HELOCs Work?

To continue with our comparison between a line of credit vs a mortgage, let’s look now at what a HELOC is. A HELOC, or a home equity line of credit, is an affordable solution. However, not all banks offer this product as it taps into job uncertainty and market fluctuations. 

HELOCs work pretty much like credit cards. Basically, this type of financial tool is a revolving credit line against your property, allowing you to borrow money as needed. Unlike a mortgage, HELOCs come with installments consisting of interest only. 

A HELOC makes sense when you don’t need large amounts of money. It lets you access your loan whenever you need or want, up to a period of around 25 years. The majority of people that take out a HELOC do it for short-term money requirements such as an upcoming college tuition or a minor home improvement project. HELOC’s maximum loan to value is 65%. Costs for HELOC are generally legal and appraisal costs, and if it’s a strata, additional documentation will be required.

When having to decide between a home equity line of credit vs a mortgage, you can only apply for a HELOC after accumulating equity in the property you bought. Something else to keep in mind is that since the amount borrowed can change, your minimum payments can change as well. This will depend on your credit line’s usage.

Compared to mortgages, HELOCs are much easier to take by the vast majority of borrowers. Wondering why? Mostly because a HELOC comes with fewer risks for the lender and more debt for the borrower. However, this is also one of the reasons why some banks have stopped this type of lending structure.

Line Of Credit Vs Mortgage, An Overview

Deciding on a line of credit vs a mortgage depends on how much money you need, when you need it, and when and how you plan to pay it back.

A HELOC Could Be Better If:

  • You don’t need a large amount of money at once
  • Best for minor home improvements, paying back student loans, or school tuition
  • You want the flexibility of borrowing as much as you want, when you want
  • You are fine with variable rates, which might fluctuate
  • You count with solid financials
  • You have accumulated home equity on your property

A Mortgage Could Be Better If:

  • You don’t want to repay the loan immediately
  • You can choose between a fixed interest rate or a variable monthly payment depending on which fits your lifestyle better
  • You want to consolidate high-interest credit card debt at a lower interest rate and pay it off with a fixed repayment plan
  • You want certainty on your rates 

Working with a mortgage broker can save you both time and money when you weigh in line of credit vs mortgage pros and cons. By developing an ongoing relationship with an expert you’ll get to access the best rates or overcome unique borrowing challenges. You’ll also be able to count on them for future investments and connect with the right lenders.

Don’t hesitate and get in touch with us for a fast assessment of your particular situation. I work with the best traditional and private lenders in BC, Canada and can help borrowers with a lower credit score or other loan application challenges. Text or call me at 778-839-3963. I am available to contact 7 days a week for your convenience.

If you are interested in discovering more about your home equity options in BC, Canada, you might also like the following articles:

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