20 Mortgage Refinance Questions to Ask Before Taking the Plunge

Thinking about refinancing your mortgage? Even in a tough interest rate environment, there are scenarios where refinancing makes sense. In each instance, you’ll want to do your research to ensure the changes to your mortgage meet your financial goals.

To help clarify your goals with refinancing your mortgage, we’ve compiled the following questions to ask when refinancing a mortgage. By the end of this article, you should have a good idea of what you’ll want to change with your mortgage to help meet your financial goals.

20 Questions to Ask When Refinancing a Mortgage

1. Should I switch lenders?

It’s possible another lender could offer you better rates and terms, but it’s a good idea to check with your current lender. Your current lender will want to keep your business and may have incentives to offer you. In any case, shopping around when you’re refinancing is a good idea, and will only count as a single inquiry on your credit if you can do it within 45 days.

2. Can I switch loan types?

Changing your loan type could be an advantageous move. If you have an FHA loan, for example, you’ll always be paying mortgage insurance. A mortgage refinance to a different loan type can eliminate the mortgage insurance payment and save you money.

You do have to counter that with the possibility that the interest rate may be higher than your current mortgage rate, offsetting the savings. Be sure to do the math to make sure it’s a smart move.

3. What’s my new interest rate?

Refinancing a mortgage loan means you’ll get a new interest rate, which could be higher or lower than your previous mortgage. You may have heard it only makes sense to refinance when interest rates are lower than what you currently have. In many cases, that’s true, but if you need a large sum from a cash-out refi, need to remove a borrower from the loan, or have another situation where refinancing is necessary, you’ll still want to shop around to get the best interest rate possible.

4. What is my interest rate type?

When you refinance, you’ll have the option to change your rate type. The choice is usually between adjustable-rate mortgages (ARM) and fixed-rate interest types. With an adjustable-rate mortgage, you may initially have a lower rate, but the rate can change with market conditions. A fixed-interest rate mortgage stays the same for the life of the loan.

5. What’s my new term length?

Refinancing a loan could bring a new term length. If you want to pay your mortgage off faster, a 15-year mortgage could work. If you need to keep your monthly payment low, you may want to opt for a 30-year mortgage. If you can manage a slightly higher monthly payment, the 15-year mortgage is a great way to save money long-term.

6. What’s the new payoff date?

Take a look at the proposed new payoff date. Where do you imagine yourself being in your life at that point? Are you comfortable if you have to stretch the payoff date further into the future? Or does a quicker payoff fit better with your future plans? Consider how much the change will cost and whether you’re willing to accept that.

7. Will I be paying mortgage insurance?

Mortgage insurance is one of the fees on your mortgage you should get rid of as soon as you can. It only serves the lender, and if you have 20% equity or more, you should be able to drop it (sometimes without a refinance, depending on your loan type). If you’re refinancing and don’t have 20% equity, you’ll get a new mortgage and still need to pay mortgage insurance.

8. What closing costs will I pay and how much will they be?

You might be wondering what the fees for refinancing will be, or even, “Can I refinance for free?” The best answer lies with your lender. When you’re comparison shopping, get a loan estimate, which will disclose the interest rate, monthly payment, closing costs, and estimated costs for taxes and insurance for your new loan.

There are lenders that offer no-closing-cost loans, usually in exchange for higher interest rates or by adding closing costs to the loan. Compare these expenses to closing costs to see which is a better deal.

9. What will my new payment be?

Your mortgage payment will likely change, sometimes significantly depending on the interest rate you qualify for and the term that you choose. To get a good estimate of how that could change, use a mortgage calculator.

10. Can I afford the new payment?

Evaluate how the new payment fits in your monthly budget. If it’s too affordable, you may want to consider a 15-year loan. If it’s too much of a stretch, consider whether you really want or need to make a change.

11. Will I save any money?

The only way to know if you’re going to save any money on a refinance (if that’s your goal) is to:

•   Calculate how much the mortgage is going to cost in total. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) advises consumers to look at the cost savings of your monthly payment versus how much the loan will cost you in total. Even if you can get a lower interest rate and lower monthly payment, you could end up paying more for the mortgage if the mortgage term is longer.

•   Calculate your break-even point. You can do this by dividing the closing costs by the amount you’ll save every month. If your closing costs are $4,000, and you’ll save $200 every month, then your break even point is 20 months. If you plan to stay in the home at least 20 months, then the amount is probably worth it if the total cost is also acceptable to you.

12. Can I refinance if I have less than 20% equity?

You can refinance if you have less than 20% equity, though you’ll still need to find the right loan and the right lender. You’ll have fewer options, as most lenders do look for 20% equity for refinanced loans. You may want to consider other financing methods where you can get equity out without refinancing.

13. Can I refinance without a credit check?

There are programs that offer refinancing without a hard credit check in all loan types, including: conventional, FHA, USDA, and VA. Take a look at the chart below for details on programs, qualifications, and what limitations you may encounter:

Program name

Who and what qualifies?

Limitations

FHA Streamline FHA-insured properties that are not delinquent Cash out limited to $500, may have higher interest rate
Fannie Mae RefiNow One-unit primary residences for borrowers at 100% or less of the area median income with up to 65% debt-to-income (DTI) ratio Cash out limited to $250, fixed-rate loans only
Freddie Mac Refi Possible One-unit primary residences for borrowers at 100% or less of the area median income with up to 65% DTI ratio Cash out limited to $250, fixed-rate loans only
USDA Streamline Assist USDA mortgages with no delinquent payments for 12 months prior Income limits, must reduce the monthly amount by at least $50 to qualify
VA IRRRL For existing VA loans that have been owner-occupied at one point No cash out, cannot pay off a second mortgage, may pay closing costs

14. Can I refinance multiple times?

It is possible to refinance multiple times, provided the numbers work out. You’ll need to qualify with your income, debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, and credit score each time. Keep in mind that the cost of refinancing each time may not make sense, so be sure to work out the numbers and consult with your lender on a solution that works for you.

15. How do I prepare for a refinance?

The best way to prepare for a refinance is by getting your finances in order. Check your credit score, your home’s value, and pay off debt where you can. Your personal qualifications are the biggest factor in getting a refinance with the best rates and terms.

16. What’s the purpose for the refinance?

You may be considering a refinance for any number of reasons, including to secure a lower interest rate, consolidate your debts, to take a cosigner off the loan, to pay off the loan sooner, to get rid of mortgage insurance, to change loan types, or to change interest rate types. If you are refinancing to pay for major expenses, consider that a home equity line of credit (HELOC) may be another option.

Turn your home equity into cash with a HELOC brokered by SoFi.

Access up to 95% or $500k of your home’s equity to finance almost anything.


Recommended: What Is a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage?

17. What are you sacrificing for this refinance?

Are you sacrificing a great interest rate so you can remodel the kitchen (and is that OK with you)? Are you pulling equity out of your home to give your monthly budget some breathing room? How much more will you pay over the life of the loan if you refinance? When you understand how amortization affects what you pay for the whole mortgage, it can help you make decisions that are better for your long-term financial health.

18. How does the refinance bring you closer to your financial goals?

A refinance should help you with your money or life. If there’s no benefit, you can walk away. If your goal is to separate your finances from a former partner, a refinance is essential to getting you closer to your goals. If your goal is to update your home, a refinance may be able to help you do that. Think about your goals, financial and otherwise.

19. Do I need cash out?

If you want cash refunded to you when you refinance with a new mortgage, you’ll want a type of loan called a “cash-out refinance.” You can use the cash to pay off debt, finish your basement, cover the costs of adoption, start a business, buy a boat, or nearly any other purpose you can think of. The CFPB does advise consumers to be judicious when taking cash out of their home equity.

20. Is this the right time to refinance?

There’s never going to be a perfect time to refinance, even when interest rates drop. But if your finances qualify you for a refinance and you’re ready to meet your next financial goal, then it might be a good time to refinance.

Why Asking These Questions Is Important


There are a lot of questions here, but if you’re clear on what you need and want, the refinance process will go more smoothly when you begin to work with your lender. You’ll be able to:

•   Understand what options are available to you

•   Grill your lender on important details

•   Comparison shop and get the best deal

•   Understand how a refinance will affect your finances

Deciding Whether to Refinance Your Mortgage


Refinancing your mortgage can be a great financial move, but it’s not right for everyone. Even after figuring out what you need and evaluating the options out there, you still might be worried about whether you’re making the right move or not.

That’s normal. A good lender can help answer any additional questions you have when refinancing your mortgage. They can help you see the different options available to you and what financial implications they may have.

Recommended: How to Get Equity Out of Your Home

The Takeaway


It can sometimes feel like there are as many reasons to refinance your mortgage as there are lenders willing to give you a loan. Asking yourself these questions can help you pinpoint whether a refinance is right for you, right now, given your specific financial and life circumstances.

SoFi can help you save money when you refinance your mortgage. Plus, we make sure the process is as stress-free and transparent as possible. SoFi offers competitive fixed rates on a traditional mortgage refinance or cash-out refinance.

A new mortgage refinance could be a game changer for your finances.

FAQ

What is not a good reason to refinance a mortgage?

An interest rate drop isn’t by itself a good reason to refinance a mortgage. Refinancing should help you meet your overall financial or life goals. It won’t make sense in every situation, so it’s important to evaluate how changes in your monthly payments, loan term, and overall amount paid (including closing costs) will affect your finances over the long term.

What is a good rule of thumb for mortgage refinancing?

If it helps you meet your financial goals, a refinance could make sense. You may need a cash-out refinance to pay for a new roof. Or you may want to refinance to a shorter term with a better interest rate so you can pay down the home faster. Those are examples of how refinances can improve your financial situation.

What should you look out for when refinancing a home?

When you’re refinancing a mortgage, ideally you want it to benefit you financially. Bear in mind that a new mortgage with a lower monthly payment could still cost you more over time if you extend the loan term.


Photo credit: iStock/dusanpetkovic

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

¹FHA loans are subject to unique terms and conditions established by FHA and SoFi. Ask your SoFi loan officer for details about eligibility, documentation, and other requirements. FHA loans require an Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium (UFMIP), which may be financed or paid at closing, in addition to monthly Mortgage Insurance Premiums (MIP). Maximum loan amounts vary by county. The minimum FHA mortgage down payment is 3.5% for those who qualify financially for a primary purchase. SoFi is not affiliated with any government agency.
Veterans, Service members, and members of the National Guard or Reserve may be eligible for a loan guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. VA loans are subject to unique terms and conditions established by VA and SoFi. Ask your SoFi loan officer for details about eligibility, documentation, and other requirements. VA loans typically require a one-time funding fee except as may be exempted by VA guidelines. The fee may be financed or paid at closing. The amount of the fee depends on the type of loan, the total amount of the loan, and, depending on loan type, prior use of VA eligibility and down payment amount. The VA funding fee is typically non-refundable. SoFi is not affiliated with any government agency.

²To obtain a home equity loan, SoFi Bank (NMLS #696891) may assist you obtaining a loan from Spring EQ (NMLS #1464945).

All loan terms, fees, and rates may vary based upon individual financial and personal circumstances and state.

You may discuss with your loan officer whether a SoFi Mortgage or a home equity loan from Spring EQ is appropriate. Please note that the SoFi member discount does not apply to Home Equity Loans or Lines of Credit brokered through SoFi. Terms and conditions will apply. Before you apply for a SoFi Mortgage, please note that not all products are offered in all states, and all loans are subject to eligibility restrictions and limitations, including requirements related to loan applicant’s credit, income, property, and loan amount. Minimum loan amount is $75,000. Lowest rates are reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. Products, rates, benefits, terms, and conditions are subject to change without notice. Learn more at SoFi.com/eligibility-criteria.

SoFi Mortgages originated through SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org). Equal Housing Lender. SoFi Bank, N.A. is currently NOT able to accept applications for refinance loans in NY.

In the event SoFi serves as broker to Spring EQ for your loan, SoFi will be paid a fee.

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5 Ways to Pull Equity Out of Your Home

Your home equity could be a powerful tool for helping you meet your financial goals. If you need to pay for an extensive renovation, fund adoption expenses, or supplement your retirement income, there are many ways you could extract equity from your home in order to better your life.

But how exactly do you get the equity out of your home? What are the best methods that are affordable and make sense for your situation? Whether you’re thinking of a cash-out refinance, a home equity loan, or another option, you’ll want to carefully evaluate the costs, risks, and impact on your financial situation.

We have you covered. We’ll go over how to get equity out of your home, the different methods for accessing the equity in your home, and the pros and cons of each.

What Is Home Equity?

Home equity is the amount of total ownership you have in your home over what you owe on your mortgage. It is the amount you would receive if you were to sell the home today.

Equity is best expressed mathematically. To calculate your home equity, subtract your outstanding mortgage amount from your home’s current market value:

Home’s value – your mortgage = equity

For example, if your home is worth $500,000 and your mortgage is $300,000, you would have $200,000 in equity ($500,000 – $300,000 = $200,000).

5 Ways to Take Equity From Your Home

If you’re ready to take the next step and seriously consider taking some equity out of your home, you have five main options, including: a home equity loan, home equity line of credit (HELOC), cash-out refinance, home sale, and equity-sharing arrangement.

Home equity loan

If you’re looking at pulling equity out without refinancing, a home equity loan or a HELOC is the move you’re going to want to make. A home equity loan offers a low interest rate because it uses your home’s equity to secure the loan. Because of the way it works, you may have access to a larger sum of money at a lower interest rate than you would if you used another source, such as a credit card.

Home equity loans disburse funds upfront. The loan would have a fixed interest rate and a set repayment plan. You’ll start repaying the loan from your first payment (vs just paying interest for some period of time).

The main negative with a home equity loan is that it uses your home as collateral. If you fail to make payments, the lender could start foreclosure proceedings against you. Another drawback is that if you don’t need all the money you’re borrowing at one time, you are getting it all nonetheless, as a lump sum, and you’ll be paying interest on that full amount.

HELOC

A HELOC is another type of home equity loan secured by your home’s equity, with the main difference being that the amount you borrow is more flexible. With a HELOC, you apply for a loan with a maximum amount. If approved, that maximum amount becomes like a credit limit. You borrow what you need when you need it, and when you repay what you have borrowed, the full credit limit becomes available to you once again.

One advantage of a HELOC is that you only need to make payments on what you’ve borrowed. This minimum payment is determined by your lender when you apply for the loan, but is usually a lower amount during the initial draw period.

Cash-Out Refinance

Another option for accessing your home’s equity is through a cash-out refinance. This is where you replace your existing mortgage with a new, bigger mortgage and take the difference in cash.

It works if interest rates are great and you have a significant amount of equity in your home. (Most lenders will only allow you to borrow up to 80% of your home’s equity, especially if you want a good rate.) As a quick example: If your home is worth $300,000, the lender may be able to loan out $240,000. If your existing mortgage is $200,000 and you get the full $240,000, then approximately $40,000 (less any closing costs) could be refunded to you.

Sale

When you sell your home, all of the equity that you have accumulated — less the costs associated with the sale — can be converted to cash. There is also the possibility for you to enter into a sale-leaseback arrangement. This is where you sell your home and then lease it back from the new owner. Just as with a sale, you gain access to almost all of the equity you’ve accumulated over the years. You also get to stay in your home, provided you find the lease agreement acceptable.

Equity Sharing Arrangement

With an equity sharing arrangement, the homeowner enters into an agreement with a company that provides some money to the homeowner in exchange for a percentage of the home’s appreciation. The company is essentially an investor that bets on the value of your home rising.

There typically isn’t a monthly payment. The investor gets their money back when you buy them out or sell the home.

The main thing to look out for with this option is how much the investor asks in return for the loan. The long-term costs for this option could potentially be significant — usually 10% equity or more.

Pros and Cons of Using Home Equity

After looking at all of your options for accessing the equity in your home, the pros and cons of the methods look like this:

Home equity loan

Pros

Cons

Access to large amounts of cash Home is used as security on the loan
Low interest rates Home equity lending takes time
Large, upfront sum Longer loan terms could mean you’ll pay more
Fixed interest rate and repayment schedule Not very flexible

HELOC

Pros

Cons

Access to large amounts of cash Home is used as security on the loan
Low interest rates Home equity lending takes time
Flexible loan amounts Longer loan term could mean you’ll pay more
Flexible repayment Adjustable interest rate

Cash-out Refinance

Pros

Cons

One loan payment for home mortgage plus cash you are borrowing Must pay closing costs for a new mortgage
Access a large amount of cash May have a higher monthly payment
Could potentially get better loan terms Potentially higher rates

Home Sale

Pros

Cons

Access 100% of your home’s equity No longer own the home
No need to qualify for a new mortgage or home equity loan Must pay selling costs
No home maintenance costs May need to find additional housing

Equity Sharing

Pros

Cons

No monthly payment You won’t realize all the equity gains of your home
Don’t need to pay back until you sell the home or buy the equity back Equity sharing percentage could be quite large
May not need good credit to qualify Need sufficient equity to qualify
Shared risk Complex agreements

How to Get Equity Out of Your Home

If you’re made up your mind to extract some equity from your home, the process looks something like this:

Determine how much equity you have in your home

To figure out how much equity is in your home, start with a good estimate of your home’s market value. A real estate agent or assessor can provide this for you. Online estimates can get close, but they won’t be as accurate. The more accurate (and unbiased) an estimate you can get, the better you’ll be able to gauge how much equity you have. Use the formula from above (home value – your mortgage = estimated equity).

Decide how to take equity out of your home

Examine the list above to determine which means of accessing the equity in your home feels right for you, whether it be a home equity loan, HELOC, home sale, or other method.

Shop around for a lender

If you elect to extract equity with a cash-out refi, HELOC or home equity loan, you’ll need to look for a lender that offers competitive rates and terms for what you want. Comparison shopping is a good idea; keep in mind shopping around won’t count against your credit if you do it within a 45-day window.

Qualify for a loan

Once you’ve narrowed down your choice of lenders, submit a full application. Your lender will start reviewing your documents to verify income, employment, identity, and loan details. The lender will also check your credit score and debt level to ensure you qualify for the loan.

Get an appraisal

Your lender will order the appraisal for your loan, which is necessary to determine the exact value of the property and how much equity you have in the home. It’s pretty common to be able to get a desktop appraisal or use an automated valuation model (AVM) to determine the value for a home equity loan or HELOC. (An appraisal will also likely be needed if you sell your home or enter into an equity-sharing arrangement.)

Close on the loan

After an underwriter has reviewed your file, the lender will send loan documents for you to review and sign. If there are any closing costs, you may be directed to bring funds to closing.

Receive funds

Money from the loan will be deposited into an account of your choosing.

Which Method of Getting Equity Out of Your Home Is Best for You?

The best method for taking equity out of your home depends on your goals. Do you need the largest amount of money while maintaining ownership of the home? Perhaps a cash-out refinance is for you. Do you like the idea of having a flexible line of credit that you can use when you need it? A HELOC might suit your needs. Do you want to access 100% of your equity and not be responsible for the costs of homeownership anymore? Then perhaps selling your home is the answer.

If it fits with your life plans, then it will make the best sense financially, even if there’s another method that may offer a lower interest rate.

The Takeaway

When you’re planning to get equity out of your home, the most important thing to take into consideration is how you’re going to use it. Since taking equity out of your home usually means you’ll be paying on the loan longer, you’ll want to carefully consider which method helps you meet your financial goals.

SoFi now offers flexible HELOCs. Our HELOC options allow you to access up to 95% of your home’s value, or $500,000, at competitively low rates. And the application process is quick and convenient.

Unlock your home’s value with a home equity line of credit brokered by SoFi.

FAQ

Is it a good idea to take equity out of your house?

Taking equity out of your home typically means you’ll take longer to repay the loan (though not always — it depends on the terms and rates of your loan). Even if you get a lower interest rate and lower monthly payment, a longer loan term could mean that you’ll pay more for your mortgage because of the added years you’ll have on the mortgage.

How do you pull equity out of your home?

To pull equity out of your home, you’ll need to get in contact with a lender that offers financial tools that can grant you access to your equity. These may include home equity loans, HELOCs, or cash-out refinances. You may also consider selling your home or getting into an agreement with an equity-sharing company.

What is the best way to release equity from a house?

The best way to pull equity from your house is the one that helps you meet your financial goals. If you need to remodel your home and you know exactly how much it is going to cost, a home equity loan may work best. But if you want simplified finances, a single payment from a cash-out refi could be the answer.


Photo credit: iStock/Korrawin

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

²To obtain a home equity loan, SoFi Bank (NMLS #696891) may assist you obtaining a loan from Spring EQ (NMLS #1464945).

All loan terms, fees, and rates may vary based upon individual financial and personal circumstances and state.

You may discuss with your loan officer whether a SoFi Mortgage or a home equity loan from Spring EQ is appropriate. Please note that the SoFi member discount does not apply to Home Equity Loans or Lines of Credit brokered through SoFi. Terms and conditions will apply. Before you apply for a SoFi Mortgage, please note that not all products are offered in all states, and all loans are subject to eligibility restrictions and limitations, including requirements related to loan applicant’s credit, income, property, and loan amount. Minimum loan amount is $75,000. Lowest rates are reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. Products, rates, benefits, terms, and conditions are subject to change without notice. Learn more at SoFi.com/eligibility-criteria.

SoFi Mortgages originated through SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org). Equal Housing Lender. SoFi Bank, N.A. is currently NOT able to accept applications for refinance loans in NY.

In the event SoFi serves as broker to Spring EQ for your loan, SoFi will be paid a fee.


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Home Equity Conversion Mortgage Explained

A home is a place to live, but it is also a significant asset that often increases in value over time. Until a sale or an inheritance, this value typically remains unrealized. However, a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) is a tool that can help unlock some of a home’s equity for those who are experiencing unforeseen expenses or want financial flexibility in retirement.

What are home equity conversion mortgages, and how do they operate? We’ll delve into the complexities of HECMs in this article, going over their advantages, requirements for qualifying, available repayment plans, and any drawbacks.

What Is an HECM?

Knowing how to safely utilize home equity can be a game-changer in an environment where traditional retirement funding may not be sufficient and the cost of living is rising. With the help of HECMs, homeowners 62 years of age and over have a way to turn a portion of their equity into cash without having to worry about making monthly mortgage payments or refinancing.

A Home Equity Conversion Mortgage is a specific kind of home loan that allows homeowners 62 years of age and over to access a portion of their home equity. The loan is insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). With an HECM, the lender pays the borrower instead of the borrower making monthly payments to the lender as is the case with standard home loans. These funds may be obtained in the form of a line of credit, monthly installments, a lump sum, or in any combination of these. One of the key characteristics of a HECM is that repayment is usually postponed until the borrower either stops using the house as their principal residence or defaults on other loan responsibilities, like upkeep, property taxes, and insurance.

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.


How HECMs Work

With HECMs, qualified homeowners 62 years of age and over can convert a part of their home equity into cash without having to sell their house or pay a monthly mortgage. A homeowner who obtains this type of home equity loan has the choice of receiving money in one of several ways: as a lump sum, as monthly installments, as a line of credit, or as a mix of these. A number of variables, including the borrower’s age, the home’s appraised value, and the current interest rate, affect how much money is available through a HECM.

Borrowers are still liable for upkeep, property taxes, homeowners insurance, and any relevant homeowners association dues, and they must continue residing in the home. Usually, the borrower must make loan repayments when they sell their house or move out permanently. If the owner dies, his or her heirs are responsible for repaying the remaining loan total, which includes all accumulated interest and fees. (The funds to repay the total might be recouped through the sale of the house.) With the help of this financial tool, retirees can access their home equity and keep ownership and occupation of their residence, giving them more financial stability and freedom in their later years.

Home Equity Conversion Mortgage Requirements

There are several requirements to quality for an HECM:

Age

To qualify for a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage, applicants must be aged 62 or older.

Homeownership

Homeownership is a prerequisite for obtaining an HECM, and the property must be the borrower’s primary residence.

Equity

Sufficient equity in the property is required for eligibility. Typically the borrower must have at least 50% ownership.

Financial Assessment

Lenders perform a rigorous financial review before approving a HECM to make sure borrowers can afford regular costs like property taxes and insurance. Although there are no stringent income or credit restrictions for HECMs, borrowers still need to show that they can afford their debts.

Property Type

The eligibility for a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage depends on the property type. It must be a single-family home, a two-to-four-unit dwelling with one unit occupied by the borrower, or a HUD-approved condominium or manufactured home meeting FHA requirements.

Repayment

Repayment of an HECM typically occurs when the borrower sells the home, moves out permanently, or passes away, at which point the loan balance, including accrued interest and fees, is repaid either through the sale of the home or by the borrower’s heirs.

Compliance

Compliance with all FHA guidelines and requirements throughout the life of the loan is essential for borrowers of a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage.

Pros and Cons of HECMs

While there are many benefits to an HECM, there are also some downsides to be aware of.

Pros of HECM

•   Financial flexibility: Retirees who qualify for HECMs can use their home equity as a source of additional income without having to pay a monthly mortgage.

•   Retain homeownership: During the loan period, borrowers may continue living in their house and retain ownership.

•   Delayed repayment: To provide borrowers and their family peace of mind, loan repayment is normally postponed until the borrower sells the house, moves out permanently, or passes away.

•   Flexible payment options: To accommodate different financial needs and preferences, HECMs offer a range of payment options, such as lump sum payments, monthly installments, a line of credit, or a mix of these.

•   FHA insurance: The FHA insures HECMs, providing lenders and borrowers with extra security against possible losses.

•   Non-recourse loan: Since HECMs are non-recourse loans, as long as the property is sold to pay off the debt, borrowers or their heirs are not liable for any shortfall in the event that the loan total exceeds the value of the home upon repayment.

Cons of HECM

•   Accrued interest: As interest is applied to the loan balance over time, it may decrease the amount of equity that is available to borrowers or their heirs when the loan is repaid.

•   Costs up front: The money obtained from the loan may be reduced by upfront expenses associated with HECMs, such as mortgage insurance premiums, origination, closing, and servicing fees.

•   Impact on inheritance: Using an HECM to access home equity may cause the borrower’s estate to lose value, which may have an impact on the inheritance that heirs get.

•   Strict property restrictions: Eligibility is restricted to specific types of properties, which may prevent some borrowers from using this financial instrument.

•   Effect on government benefits: One may not be able to obtain means-tested government benefits like Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if they get funds from an HECM.

•   Potential default: Should the borrower or their heirs neglect to fulfill the loan obligations — which include upkeep of the property, payment of taxes, and maintenance of insurance coverage — they run the risk of going into default and losing the house.

Home Equity Conversion Mortgage vs Reverse Mortgage

Although they are sometimes used interchangeably, reverse mortgages and home equity conversion mortgages differ in a few important ways. Both let homeowners 62 and older access their home equity without having to pay a monthly mortgage. A mortgage with particular standards and protections that is guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration is known as an HECM. Conversely, private lenders may provide reverse mortgages, which may have different terms and qualifying requirements. Here’s a quick look at the differences:

Feature

HECM

Reverse Mortgage

Insurer FHA Private lenders
Eligibility Requirements Strict FHA guidelines Lender-specific criteria
Costs FHA mortgage insurance premiums, fees Vary by lender/td>
Repayment Deferred until borrower moves Varies (e.g., lump sum, monthly payments)
Property Requirements FHA-approved properties Vary by lender
Government Benefits Impact DPotential impact Potential impact

Each type of mortgage has benefits and drawbacks. HECMs have upfront charges and property restrictions, but they also provide government insurance, more stringent qualifying requirements, and protection against default. Private lender reverse mortgages could be more flexible and have fewer initial expenses, but there might be risks and alternative terms for the borrower. Before making a choice, homeowners should carefully weigh their options and speak with a financial advisor.

Alternatives to HECMs

There are other options to take into consideration. One option is a cash-out refinance, in which homeowners can obtain cash for the difference when they refinance their current mortgage for a bigger sum than what they presently owe. Another choice is a home equity line of credit (HELOC) or a home equity loan; these enable homeowners to take out a loan with fixed or variable interest rates and repayment conditions based on the equity in their house.

A homeowner who wants financial freedom, without the hassles of an HECM or reverse mortgage, can look into alternative retirement income options like investments or annuities or downsize to a smaller, more inexpensive house. Before choosing one of these options, homeowners should carefully weigh their options, taking into account things like fees, payback terms, eligibility restrictions, and long-term financial objectives. Speaking with a financial advisor can also offer insightful advice on how to choose which course of action is appropriate for one’s particular circumstances.

Home Loan Rates

A number of economic factors, such as market demand, monetary policy decisions, and inflation, affect home loan rates. Mortgage lenders typically modify their rates in response to changes in the overall interest rate environment. With a fixed interest rate that stays the same for the duration of the loan, fixed-rate mortgages give borrowers stability and predictable monthly payments.

Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), on the other hand, start off with lower rates and come with the ability to change them at any time depending on the state of the market. This could result in changes to the monthly payment amount. Individual mortgage rates are also influenced by loan terms, credit score, and size of down payment; consumers with higher credit scores typically obtain lower rates. It is possible for borrowers to obtain reasonable rates that are customized to their financial situation by staying up to date with market developments and looking into choices with various lenders.

The Takeaway

A homeowner age 62 or over who wishes to stay in their house but also wants to unlock some of the equity in the property to cover expenses may find a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage is worth a look. But an HECM isn’t the only option, so weigh the pros and cons and consider a home equity loan or line of credit as well.

SoFi now offers flexible HELOCs. Our HELOC options allow you to access up to 95% of your home’s value, or $500,000, at competitively low rates. And the application process is quick and convenient.

Unlock your home’s value with a home equity line of credit brokered by SoFi.

FAQ

What is the downside of an HECM loan?

The drawbacks of an HECM loan are the possibility of accumulated interest, upfront expenses such mortgage insurance premiums and taxes, and potential effects on the borrower’s eligibility for government benefits or on the value of their estate.

What is the difference between an HECM mortgage and a reverse mortgage?

An HECM mortgage is a subset of a reverse mortgage that is insured by the FHA, providing specific protections. Reverse mortgages can be offered by private lenders and may have different terms and eligibility criteria.

What is the homeowner requirement to qualify for a home equity conversion mortgage?

To qualify for a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage, the homeowner must be aged 62 or older and have sufficient equity in the property, which must serve as their primary residence.


Photo credit: iStock/Hispanolistic

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

¹FHA loans are subject to unique terms and conditions established by FHA and SoFi. Ask your SoFi loan officer for details about eligibility, documentation, and other requirements. FHA loans require an Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium (UFMIP), which may be financed or paid at closing, in addition to monthly Mortgage Insurance Premiums (MIP). Maximum loan amounts vary by county. The minimum FHA mortgage down payment is 3.5% for those who qualify financially for a primary purchase. SoFi is not affiliated with any government agency.

²To obtain a home equity loan, SoFi Bank (NMLS #696891) may assist you obtaining a loan from Spring EQ (NMLS #1464945).

All loan terms, fees, and rates may vary based upon individual financial and personal circumstances and state.

You may discuss with your loan officer whether a SoFi Mortgage or a home equity loan from Spring EQ is appropriate. Please note that the SoFi member discount does not apply to Home Equity Loans or Lines of Credit brokered through SoFi. Terms and conditions will apply. Before you apply for a SoFi Mortgage, please note that not all products are offered in all states, and all loans are subject to eligibility restrictions and limitations, including requirements related to loan applicant’s credit, income, property, and loan amount. Minimum loan amount is $75,000. Lowest rates are reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. Products, rates, benefits, terms, and conditions are subject to change without notice. Learn more at SoFi.com/eligibility-criteria.

SoFi Mortgages originated through SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org). Equal Housing Lender. SoFi Bank, N.A. is currently NOT able to accept applications for refinance loans in NY.

In the event SoFi serves as broker to Spring EQ for your loan, SoFi will be paid a fee.

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7 Ways to Use a HELOC to Build Wealth

The average homeowner with a mortgage ended 2023 with $299,000 in home equity, according to ICE Mortgage Monitor, which also estimates that the average funds homeowners could tap by borrowing against their home equity is $193,000.

Obviously, that number varies for each individual and depends on factors such as the original down payment, local property values, and the amount of time in the home. But if you have more than 20% equity in your home, using a home equity line of credit (HELOC) to build wealth is a strategy to consider.

Ways to Build Wealth With a HELOC

A home equity line of credit lets you borrow funds as needed (up to a prearranged limit) through a credit draw. This is different from a home equity loan, in which you would borrow a one-time sum of cash. Drawing on your home equity for certain expenses could help grow your wealth over time, if it financially makes sense. Here are some options to consider.

1. Home Improvements

A HELOC works well for larger home improvement projects and renovations because you can draw funds to pay for materials and contractors as needed. You accrue interest only on the outstanding balance, so it could be cheaper to opt for a HELOC vs. a home equity loan. And if you itemize your taxes, you could deduct HELOC interest payments when the money is used to improve the home.

Plus, a renovation project could build wealth by increasing the value of your home. Home improvement experts estimate that a kitchen refresh could deliver a 377% return on investment and refinishing hardwood floors could have a 348% ROI.

2. Debt Consolidation

You can’t deduct HELOC interest when you use the funds to consolidate debt, but you could still build your wealth. Paying off debt with a lower interest rate could save you a lot of money over the long run. Let’s look at an example.

Say you qualify for a HELOC with an 8% APR but you have a $10,000 credit card balance with a 22% APR. In order to pay off that card in five years, you’d pay $276.19 per month and pay $6,571.35 in interest.

With the HELOC, on the other hand, let’s say you made interest-only payments for one year, then spread out the principal and remaining interest over four years, for a total of five years. During the interest-only period, your payment would be $66.67, followed by $244.13 for the remaining four years. On top of that, you’d only pay a total of $2,518.19 in interest for the entire five years. That’s a potential savings of $4,053.16 in interest payments by consolidating to a lower rate!

3. Real Estate Investments

Using a HELOC to finance an investment property can help you start climbing the real estate ladder. Homeowners could use the funds to make a down payment, cover closing costs, and/or make some upgrades before renting out the property.

You’ll still need to qualify for the new property’s monthly mortgage loan payments, particularly if there isn’t a current rental income history for the lender to review. Assuming you’re eligible for the loan, the goal is to use the rental income to pay off the HELOC and make a profit. On top of that, the property itself could increase in value over time, building your overall wealth.

4. Education and Skills Development

Investing your home equity in your education or skills development could increase your earning power and, consequently, your wealth. Research shows that people with advanced degrees tend to earn more than those without them.

For instance, a study published in Demography revealed that women with bachelor’s degrees earn $630,000 more in a lifetime than those with a high school degree. For men, the increase in lifetime earnings is $900,000. The numbers are even more dramatic with graduate degrees. Women’s lifetime earnings are $1.1 million higher than their high school graduate counterparts, whereas men earn $1.5 million more. Clearly, investing in your professional skills can translate into greater wealth.

5. Start or Expand a Business

The majority of small business owners invest their personal funds in the growth of their companies. Research also shows that upfront funding correlates with greater revenue. So while there’s no way to know that home equity financing you use for your business will guarantee success, it could improve your odds to scale more quickly.

6. Investment Portfolio Growth

Growing a diversified investment portfolio is another option for using a HELOC to build wealth. Obviously, there is risk involved when funding investments. Focusing on long-term investments could help reduce the risk of short-term market volatility. Remember, though, that for investments made with money from a HELOC to truly pay off, you would have to earn more on the investment than you pay in interest for the HELOC.

7. Emergency Fund or Cash Reserve

Most financial experts recommend having three to six month’s worth of savings on hand in cash in case you lose a job or the ability to earn an income. However, the economic volatility that came during the pandemic has people rethinking that number and even recommending up to a year of expenses in savings. Using a type of home equity loan like a HELOC could give you the peace of mind of having a financial cushion to fall back on, while allowing you to carefully invest that six months of savings instead of keeping it in cash.

Turn your home equity into cash with a HELOC brokered by SoFi.

Access up to 95% or $500k of your home’s equity to finance almost anything.


What to Consider Before Getting a HELOC

There are several factors to consider before you decide on a HELOC instead of some other type of financing, such as a cash-out refinance or unsecured personal line of credit.

•   Your home is used as collateral: In other words, if you default on your HELOC payments, you could lose your house.

•   You must maintain 10% to 20% equity in your home: You can’t tap into your entire equity amount; lenders require you to keep some, which means you may not be able to borrow as much as you originally thought.

•   Rates are usually variable: Your interest won’t stay the same and could increase if rates rise. That could mean a bigger balance and bigger payments down the road.

•   HELOCs have two stages: The first is the draw period, in which you only have to make interest payments. After the draw period, you’ll make payments on both principal and interest.

Pros and Cons of Taking Equity Out of Your Home

It’s certainly possible to build wealth using a HELOC, but there are advantages and disadvantages to think about.

Pros:

•   Low interest rate compared to other financing

•   Interest accrues only on the balance, not available credit

•   Borrow again when you replenish the credit line

•   No restrictions on how you use the money you borrow

Cons:

•   Home is used as collateral, putting it at risk

•   Payment amount increases after draw period is over

•   May come with closing costs and maintenance fees

The Takeaway

Tapping into your home equity using a HELOC is one way to potentially build wealth, especially because rates tend to be low when compared to other forms of borrowing. It’s always worth weighing the pros and cons, since defaulting on payments could result in losing your house. But if you have the financial confidence to move forward, there are several ways that your home equity could help you build wealth.

SoFi now offers flexible HELOCs. Our HELOC options allow you to access up to 95% of your home’s value, or $500,000, at competitively low rates. And the application process is quick and convenient.

Unlock your home’s value with a home equity line of credit brokered by SoFi.

FAQ

Is it smart to use a HELOC for investment property?

Using a HELOC for an investment property could help you fund the transaction sooner than if you used other types of financing. You may be able to make a bigger down payment or even make an all-cash offer. Just be sure that you feel confident in your real estate market research and your ability to make payments even if a worst-case scenario occurs.

What should you not use a HELOC for?

A HELOC should not be used for depreciating assets, especially when your goal is to build wealth. Things like vacations and car purchases aren’t usually recommended since they don’t hold their financial value.

What are the pitfalls of a HELOC?

The biggest pitfall is that your home is used as collateral to secure a HELOC and can go into foreclosure if you miss payments. On top of that, variable interest rates result in the potential for larger-than-expected payments if rates increase over time.


Photo credit: iStock/nortonrsx

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

²To obtain a home equity loan, SoFi Bank (NMLS #696891) may assist you obtaining a loan from Spring EQ (NMLS #1464945).

All loan terms, fees, and rates may vary based upon individual financial and personal circumstances and state.

You may discuss with your loan officer whether a SoFi Mortgage or a home equity loan from Spring EQ is appropriate. Please note that the SoFi member discount does not apply to Home Equity Loans or Lines of Credit brokered through SoFi. Terms and conditions will apply. Before you apply for a SoFi Mortgage, please note that not all products are offered in all states, and all loans are subject to eligibility restrictions and limitations, including requirements related to loan applicant’s credit, income, property, and loan amount. Minimum loan amount is $75,000. Lowest rates are reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. Products, rates, benefits, terms, and conditions are subject to change without notice. Learn more at SoFi.com/eligibility-criteria.

SoFi Mortgages originated through SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org). Equal Housing Lender. SoFi Bank, N.A. is currently NOT able to accept applications for refinance loans in NY.

In the event SoFi serves as broker to Spring EQ for your loan, SoFi will be paid a fee.

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How HELOCs Affect Your Taxes

When you take out a mortgage, you can deduct the amount of money you pay on mortgage interest from your taxable income. But is home equity line of credit (HELOC) interest tax deductible, too? Put simply, it depends on when you took out the HELOC and how much mortgage debt you have.

Here’s what you need to know about HELOC tax deductions, including the requirements and limitations on HELOC tax-deductible expenses, plus how to calculate your deduction.

What Is a HELOC?

Whether to cover renovation costs or consolidate debt, homeowners can borrow against the value of their home to secure the necessary funding. There are two main types of home equity loans: a conventional home equity loan and a home equity line of credit, also known as a HELOC. A HELOC functions as a revolving line of credit that uses home equity — the home’s value minus the amount you still owe on the primary mortgage — as collateral.

How much you can borrow typically ranges from 75% to 85% of your home equity. Generally, lenders require a minimum of 15% to 20% equity in your home to be eligible for a HELOC.

When comparing a HELOC vs a home equity loan, a key difference is that a HELOC allows you to draw funds as you need them, up to a maximum limit, over a draw period (often 10 years). By contrast, home equity loans disburse funds all at once.

With HELOC loans, you pay interest only on the amount you withdraw. Once the draw period ends, any remaining borrowed funds and interest are repaid over a repayment period, which can vary but typically spans 10 years.

Dive deeper: What Is a Home Equity Line of Credit?

How Does a HELOC Affect Your Taxes?

The interest paid on a HELOC could qualify as a tax deduction to lower your taxable income. If you own a home and are planning to claim a HELOC tax deduction, there are some requirements and limitations to keep in mind.

Turn your home equity into cash with a HELOC brokered by SoFi.

Access up to 95% or $500k of your home’s equity to finance almost anything.


Requirements for the HELOC Interest Tax Deduction

To answer “is interest on a HELOC tax deductible,” it’s essential to check that you meet certain requirements set by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, there are stricter requirements for how funds are spent to be eligible for a HELOC tax deduction. Specifically, funds from a HELOC must be used to buy, build, or improve a qualifying home — either a primary or second home. Eligible expenses can range from rewiring a house to replacing a roof or remodeling a kitchen. Note that funds must be spent on the same property used to secure the HELOC.

It’s also required that you have positive equity in the home used to secure the HELOC. If you have an underwater mortgage, meaning you owe more on the home than its value, you are not eligible for a HELOC tax deduction.

These requirements are in place for tax years 2018 through 2025. Prior to the rule change, a HELOC tax deduction could be made for interest paid on debt used for any type of personal expenses, not just home improvements.

Recommended: Cash Refinance vs. Home Equity

HELOC Tax Deduction Purchase Limits

HELOC tax deductions are not unlimited. So, up to what amount are HELOC loans tax deductible?

The IRS allows you to deduct interest on a maximum of $750,000 in residential loan debt (or $375,000 if married filing separately), including the primary mortgage and a HELOC. For instance, if you had $700,000 left on a home mortgage loan and $150,000 in HELOC debt, you could only deduct interest on the first $750,000 of debt.

If your primary mortgage or HELOC was approved before the 2018 tax year, you may be eligible to claim interest up to the previous limit of $1 million (or $500,000 if married filing separately). Borrowers who took out a HELOC in 2017 or earlier should note that the rule change did away with the $100,000 limit (or $50,000 if married filing separately) on home equity debt for tax deductions.

Tax Deduction Limits on Primary Mortgages

The tax deduction limits on primary mortgages are based on when the mortgage loan was taken out.
If you took out a mortgage before October 13th, 1987, there is no cap on mortgage interest tax deductions. Homebuyers who got a mortgage between October 13, 1987 and December 16, 2017, can deduct interest on up to $1 million in total mortgage debt for married couples filing jointly and single filers. The limit is $500,000 for married couples filing separately.

If you took your mortgage out after December 16, 2017, you can deduct up to $750,000 (or $375,000 if married filing separately).

These limits applied to all combined mortgage debt, including first homes, second homes, and HELOC loans.

Is Home Equity Loan Interest Tax Deductible?

The tax deduction rules for home equity loan interest is the same as a home equity line of credit. As long as you’re using funds to buy, build, or improve a home, you can claim a tax deduction on mortgage debt up to $750,000.

Recommended: What Is a Home Equity Loan?

How to Calculate a HELOC Interest Tax Deduction

Prior to filing taxes, you should receive IRS Form 1098 from your HELOC and mortgage lenders. This form indicates the interest you paid on your HELOC, primary mortgage, or home equity loan in the previous year.

If you used any HELOC funding for ineligible uses, such as personal expenses or debt consolidation, you’ll need to subtract that portion to get the deductible interest.

Besides the interest you paid on your primary mortgage and HELOC loan, total up other deductions like property taxes, mortgage points, and student loan interest. Since you can only deduct mortgage and HELOC interest payments with an itemized deduction, it’s important to check that the total of your deductions exceeds the standard deduction amount.

Here are the standard deduction amounts for tax year 2024:

•   Single or Married Filing Separately: $14,600.

•   Married Filing Jointly or Qualifying Surviving Spouse: $29,200.

•   Head of Household: $21,900.

If the mortgage and HELOC interest, plus other tax deductions you’re eligible for, exceed the above amounts, then it’s worth considering itemizing.

Recommended: Personal Line of Credit vs. HELOC

How to Deduct Home Equity Loan Interest

To deduct home equity loan interest, you’ll need to gather any receipts or invoices documenting how the money was spent. Be sure to keep records of transactions for eligible home renovations and improvements to verify your deductions in case you are audited by the IRS.

Once you’ve compiled all the necessary documentation, you’ll itemize your deductions using Schedule A of IRS Form 1040.

Does a HELOC Affect Property Taxes?

While the amount you take out through a HELOC won’t affect your property taxes, the improvements you make to your home could potentially increase the value of your home. If your renovation is substantial and involves a permit, it could be more likely to change the appraised value and potentially increase your property taxes.

The Takeaway

You can deduct the interest paid on your HELOC if the funds are used to buy, build, or improve your home. HELOC tax deductions must be itemized, and they are only allowable for the first $750,000 in mortgage debt on qualifying primary and secondary residences.

SoFi now offers flexible HELOCs. Our HELOC options allow you to access up to 95% of your home’s value, or $500,000, at competitively low rates. And the application process is quick and convenient.

Unlock your home’s value with a home equity line of credit brokered by SoFi.

FAQ

Do you report a HELOC on your taxes?

You report your HELOC interest on your taxes if you’re claiming an itemized deduction and you used your HELOC to build or improve your home.

Will a HELOC appraisal raise my taxes?

No, a HELOC appraisal will not raise your taxes. Property taxes are based on the appraised value of your home by your local government.

Does HELOC affect capital gains tax?

No, a HELOC does not affect capital gains tax on a home sale.


Photo credit: iStock/damircudic

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

²To obtain a home equity loan, SoFi Bank (NMLS #696891) may assist you obtaining a loan from Spring EQ (NMLS #1464945).

All loan terms, fees, and rates may vary based upon individual financial and personal circumstances and state.

You may discuss with your loan officer whether a SoFi Mortgage or a home equity loan from Spring EQ is appropriate. Please note that the SoFi member discount does not apply to Home Equity Loans or Lines of Credit brokered through SoFi. Terms and conditions will apply. Before you apply for a SoFi Mortgage, please note that not all products are offered in all states, and all loans are subject to eligibility restrictions and limitations, including requirements related to loan applicant’s credit, income, property, and loan amount. Minimum loan amount is $75,000. Lowest rates are reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. Products, rates, benefits, terms, and conditions are subject to change without notice. Learn more at SoFi.com/eligibility-criteria.

SoFi Mortgages originated through SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org). Equal Housing Lender. SoFi Bank, N.A. is currently NOT able to accept applications for refinance loans in NY.

In the event SoFi serves as broker to Spring EQ for your loan, SoFi will be paid a fee.

SOHL-Q224-1861934-V1

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