How Soon Can You Pull Equity Out of Your Home?

By Rebecca Lake · July 10, 2024 · 8 minute read

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How Soon Can You Pull Equity Out of Your Home?

Borrowing against home equity can put cash in your hands when needed. But how soon can you pull equity out of your home after purchasing it?

You might be surprised to learn that there’s no minimum waiting period to access your home equity. You’ll need to meet a lender’s other conditions and requirements to qualify for a loan against your equity, but you can decide when it makes sense to borrow against your home.

What Is Home Equity?

How is home equity explained? Equity is the difference between your home’s value and the remaining amount due on the mortgage. In simpler terms, equity represents the portion of the home that you own.

Home equity accumulates as your mortgage balance goes down and your property’s value goes up. As of March 2024, the average equity value among 48 million U.S. homeowners with mortgages was $206,000, according to the ICE Mortgage Monitor.

It’s possible to have negative equity in a home. That scenario can occur when you owe more on the mortgage than the home is worth. This is also referred to as being upside down or underwater on the mortgage. That’s important to know if you’re calculating how home equity counts in your net worth.

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


Ways to Access Home Equity

There are several options for borrowing against your equity. The most common are a home equity loan, a home equity line of credit, and a cash-out refinance.

Home Equity Loan

A home equity loan allows you to withdraw your equity in a lump sum. Home equity loans typically have fixed interest rates and your repayment term may last up to 30 years. A home equity loan is a type of second mortgage that doesn’t affect the terms of the loan you took out to purchase the property. Your home serves as collateral for the loan. If you default on the payments, the lender could initiate a foreclosure proceeding against you.

Home equity loans offer flexibility since you use the money any way you like. Some of the most common uses for home equity loans include:

•   Home repairs and maintenance

•   Home improvements

•   Debt consolidation

•   Medical bills

•   Large purchases

Interest on a home equity loan may be tax-deductible if the proceeds are used to “buy, build, or substantially improve the residence,” according to IRS tax rules. This rule applies through the end of 2025.

Home Equity Line of Credit

A home equity line of credit (HELOC) is a revolving line of credit that you can draw against as needed. HELOCs tend to have variable interest rates, though some lenders offer a fixed-rate option.4 When you take out a HELOC, you have a draw period in which you can access your line of credit and a repayment period when you pay it back. You pay interest only on the portion of your credit line that you use.

HELOCs can be used for the same purposes as a home equity loan. A HELOC may offer a lower interest rate than a home equity loan, depending on the overall rate environment. However, your payment isn’t always predictable if you have a variable interest rate.

Cash-Out Refinance

Cash-out refinancing replaces your existing mortgage loan with a new one while allowing you to withdraw some of your equity in cash at closing. A cash-out refinance loan isn’t a second mortgage; it takes the place of your original purchase loan. The balance due is higher to account for the amount of equity you withdraw in cash.

A cash-out refinance loan may have a fixed rate or an adjustable rate. Fixed-rate loans typically have repayment terms extending from 10 to 30 years. If you choose an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), you might be able to select a 3/1, 5/1, 7/1, or 10/1 ARM.

The first number represents how long you have to enjoy a fixed rate on the loan; the second number is how often the rate adjusts on an annual basis. So, a 10/1 ARM would have a fixed rate for the first 10 years. Then the rate would either increase or decrease once a year annually for the remainder of the loan term.

Requirements to Tap Home Equity

Qualification requirements for a home equity loan, HELOC, or cash-out refinance loan vary by lender. In most instances, you’ll need to have:

•   A credit score of 660 or better

•   At least 20% equity, though some lenders may go as low as 15%

•   A debt-to-income (DTI) ratio below 43%

Essentially, lenders want to make sure that you have sufficient income to make the payments on a home equity loan and that you’re likely to pay on time.

Lenders use your combined loan-to-value (CLTV) ratio to measure your equity. Your loan-to-value (LTV) ratio measures your home’s mortgage value against the property’s appraised value. The current loan balance divided by the appraised value equals your LTV.8 Combined LTV uses the balance of all loans, including first and second mortgages, to measure equity. This number can tell you how much of your equity you can borrow. Most lenders look for a CLTV in the 80% to 85% range, though it’s possible to find lenders that allow 100% financing.

Recommended: Understanding Mortgage Basics

Factors That Impact Timing

How soon can you get a home equity loan? Technically, right away. But the more important question to ask is whether it makes sense to access your equity sooner or later.

If you’ve just purchased a home, you may not have much equity built up yet. You may need to wait a few months for some equity to build up before borrowing against it. Your choice of lender could also make a difference. If a lender requires a home equity waiting period, you might have to wait until it ends to borrow.

Here are some questions to ask when deciding if the time is right to withdraw equity:

•   What will you use the money for?

•   How much do you need to borrow?

•   Which borrowing option makes the most sense?

•   How much can you afford in additional monthly mortgage payments?

Risks of Borrowing Too Soon

Just because you can get a home equity loan or HELOC right away doesn’t mean you should. There are some risk factors to consider if you’re thinking about an equity withdrawal.

•   Having less equity in the home can mean a higher LTV, which could make it harder to qualify.

•   Should your home’s value drop after borrowing, you could end up underwater on the mortgage.

•   If you only recently bought the home, you may not have a firm idea of your maintenance and utility costs, which could make it difficult to estimate how much you can afford in additional mortgage payments.

•   Your credit score may need time to recover so you can qualify for the best rates if you just signed off on a purchase mortgage loan.

Using a home equity loan or HELOC calculator can help you estimate what your payments might be. You can then add that to your existing mortgage payment to get an idea of what you’ll pay overall and what’s affordable for your budget.

Alternative Options

If you need to borrow money for home repairs, home improvements, or any other purpose, your equity isn’t the only option. You might consider these alternatives instead.

•   Personal loan. A personal loan allows you to borrow a lump sum and repay it with interest over time. Personal loans are typically unsecured, meaning you don’t need collateral and your home isn’t at risk if you’re unable to pay for any reason.

•   Credit card. Credit cards can be a convenient way to pay for large purchases, home improvements, or emergency expenses. Choosing a card with a 0% introductory APR on purchases can give you time to pay them off interest-free.

•   401(k) loan. If you have a retirement plan at work, you might be able to borrow against it. However, that’s usually not ideal since any money you take out won’t benefit from compounding interest, which could shortchange your retirement.

•   Home equity conversion mortgage (HECM). Eligible seniors 62 and older can get a home equity conversion mortgage to withdraw equity. You can also use an HECM for purchase loan to buy a home. A home equity conversion mortgage requires no payments as long as the homeowner lives in the property, with the balance due when they sell the home or die. Compare an HECM vs. reverse mortgage to see if you’re eligible.

You might also ask friends and family for a loan or sell things you don’t need to raise funds. Taking on a side hustle or part-time job could also bring in extra income so you don’t need to borrow.

The Takeaway

Withdrawing equity from your home can give you access to cash when you need it. In addition to getting the timing right, it’s also important to shop around and find your ideal lender. Comparing rates, terms, credit score requirements, and CLTV requirements can help you find the best loan for your needs.

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

How long after purchasing a home can you pull out equity?

There’s generally no set period for how soon you can take equity out of your home after purchasing it. Your ability to borrow can depend on your credit scores, debt-to-income ratio, and how much equity you’ve accumulated in the home.

Are there fees to tap home equity?

Home equity loans, HELOCs, and cash-out refinance loans can all have closing costs just like a purchase loan. Some of the fees you’ll pay can include appraisal fees, inspection fees if an inspection is required, attorney’s fees, and recording fees. You’ll need to pay certain fees out of pocket but your lender may allow you to roll other closing costs into the loan.

How fast can I get a home equity loan?

It’s possible to get a home equity loan as soon as you purchase your home. You’ll need to meet a lender’s minimum requirements to qualify for home equity financing. Getting approved may be challenging if you have a low credit score or only a small amount of equity in the home.


Photo credit: iStock/DjelicS

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