How to Get a Home Equity Line of Credit in 2023 (2023)

Getting a home equity line of credit (HELOC) is a lot like getting a mortgage, home equity loan, or cash-out refinance loan. But there are significant differences among these loans. What sets apart a HELOC the most is that—much like a credit card—you can borrow as little or as much money as you want as long as you don’t go over your credit limit.

But unlike a credit card, your home serves as collateral for a HELOC. If you fall too far behind on HELOC payments, you risk losing your home to foreclosure.

How to Get a Home Equity Line of Credit

The basic steps you’ll take to get a HELOC include:

  • Review your financial situation, such as your income and credit score, to see whether your finances are in good enough shape to get a loan.
  • Consider HELOC alternatives, such as a home equity loan, cash-out refinance loan, personal loan, or credit card.
  • Figure out whether you’ve got enough home equity to qualify for a HELOC.
  • Decide how much money you want to borrow and what you’ll use it for.
  • Shop around for a lender, comparing factors such as interest rates, closing costs, and fees.
  • Assemble the required documents and information for your HELOC application.

When Is a Home Equity Line of Credit a Good Choice?

A HELOC may be a good choice if you need a big chunk of money for things like a home renovation project, consolidation of higher-interest debt, a down payment for an investment property, or a major purchase like a bucket-list vacation.

This line of credit works much like a credit card does. When you obtain a HELOC, you’re approved for a certain credit limit. You can spend that money during what’s known as the draw period, which is normally up to 10 years. To use the line of credit, you must use a special credit card or special checks, for example.

During the draw period, you make interest-only payments on the amount you’ve borrowed, and not principal-and-interest payments. You pay back only what you’ve borrowed and not the full amount that’s available to borrow. Once the draw period ends, you enter the repayment period, when you make principal-and-interest payments. The repayment period may last up to 20 years.

HELOC vs. Cash-Out Refinance
HELOCCash-Out Refinance
Ease of qualificationUsually more difficult than a cash-out refiUsually less difficult than a HELOC
Relationship to original mortgageSecond loan separate from original mortgageNew loan replacing original mortgage
Typical credit score neededAt least 680 (although the minimum may be as low as 620 or as high as 720)At least 620
Typical debt-to-income ratio (DTI) requiredLess than 43%Less than 50%
Typical home equity requiredAt least 15% to 20%At least 20%
Collateral requiredHomeHome
Closing costsUsually none or a small amountUsually similar to regular mortgage (2% to 5% of loan amount)
Loan payoutPeriodic withdrawals based on credit limitLump-sum payment
Interest rateUsually variableUsually fixed
Payoff periodOften up to 20 yearsPerhaps 10, 15, or 30 years
Monthly payment amountsVariableFixed

So, when might be the best time to take out a HELOC?

(Video) 2023 Update on a Fixed HELOC - Home Equity Line of Credit (A Fixed Second Mortgage)

  • When interest rates are low (although the interest rate for a HELOC normally is variable, not fixed)
  • When you want to avoid borrowing money at a higher interest rate, such as with a credit card or personal loan; HELOCs often charge lower interest rates than some other lending products
  • When you’ve built up an adequate amount of home equity
  • When you plan to keep your home for a while, since most HELOCs must be repaid when you sell your home
  • When you’re confident about your financial situation, especially your income; this is especially important because your home serves as collateral for a HELOC

What You Need to Get a HELOC

To get a HELOC, you’ll need to meet a lender’s financial, documentary, and property requirements.

Financial Requirements to Get a HELOC

Among the financial requirements to get a HELOC are:

  • Income: A lender will look for a consistent track record of income and employment.
  • Credit score: To qualify for a HELOC, your credit score usually must be at least 680. However, some lenders might accept a score as low as 620.
  • Solid payment history: In reviewing your finances, a lender will check your history of making payments on credit cards and other debts.
  • Debt-to-income ratio: Debt-to-income ratio (DTI) represents your monthly debt payments divided by your gross monthly income. Most HELOC lenders require a DTI of 43% or less.

Document Requirements to Get a HELOC

The document requirements to get a HELOC generally include:

  • Government-issued photo ID
  • Pay stubs from employer or other proof of income
  • Past two years of tax returns
  • Recent mortgage statements
  • Bank statements and other proof of assets
  • Credit report
  • Proof of homeowners insurance
  • Home appraisal estimate

Property Requirements to Get a HELOC

Some of the property requirements to get a HELOC are:

  • Home equity: Generally, a lender will approve a HELOC for a homeowner who has at least 15% equity in their home.
  • Loan-to-value ratio: For most HELOCs, your loan-to-value ratio (LTV) must be 85% or less. In other words, you usually need home equity of at least 15% to qualify for a HELOC. Your LTV is the current loan balance divided by the current appraised value of your home. Note that this ratio includes both loans: your first mortgage and your HELOC.
  • Home appraisal. A lender usually requests an appraisal to accurately determine the value of your home.

A HELOC can be risky. For one thing, taking out a HELOC means you’ll have two loans tied to your home—the HELOC and your mortgage. This means that, at least for a while, you’ll simultaneously be making HELOC payments and mortgage payments. Furthermore, because your home serves as collateral for a HELOC, you could lose it to foreclosure if you fail to keep up with the loan payments.

Choosing a HELOC Lender

When you’re ready to take out a HELOC, it pays to compare several lenders and not go with the first lender you come across. Among the factors you should consider are:

(Video) Taking a Home Equity Line of Credit -HELOC in 2023

  • Do you want to get a HELOC from a bank, a credit union, or an online lender? Some lenders don’t offer HELOCs.
  • Would you prefer to do business with your current lender?
  • What are a lender’s requirements for obtaining a HELOC, such as the minimum credit score and minimum home equity needed?
  • How do lenders’ interest rates stack up against one another?
  • What fees will you be charged?
  • How much will the closing costs be?
  • How simple or complicated is the application process? What types of documents will the lender need?
  • What do online reviewers say about the lenders you’re looking at? Does the lender enjoy a good reputation? What is its customer service like?

What's Negotiable

When you’re working with a HELOC lender, remember that you may be able to negotiate some of the details, such as the:

  • Interest rate
  • Upfront costs
  • Closing costs
  • Annual fees

Qualifying for a HELOC means meeting various requirements. For example, you typically need a credit score of at least 680, but a lender’s minimum score might go as low as 620 or as high as 720. Also, you generally need home equity of least 15% to 20%.

Best Mortgage Lenders

LenderMin. Credit ScoreMax. DTI RatioDays to Closing
Rocket Mortgage62050%26
Fairway Mortgage62047%30–45
Caliber Mortgage62049.90%30
Bank of America62055%Not disclosed
Prosperity Home Mortgage60050%30
Cherry Creek Mortgage62050%30
Primary Residential Mortgage66050%21–30

Alternatives to a Home Equity Line of Credit

A HELOC may not be right for you. Fortunately, alternatives are available. Here are four of them.

Home Equity Loan

A home equity loan, also known as a second mortgage, enables a homeowner to tap into their equity to borrow money. Both a regular mortgage and a home equity loan use your home as collateral.

This type of loan gives you a lump sum of money based on a share of your home equity. So, if your home is valued at $350,000 and you owe $250,000, your equity is $100,000. A lender often limits the amount you can borrow to, say, 85%. At that percentage, a lender would let you borrow up to $85,000.

(Video) HELOC Explained (and when NOT to use it!)

Cash-Out Refinance

With a cash-out refi loan, you get a new mortgage to replace your existing mortgage. The amount of the new mortgage is bigger than your current mortgage balance. You then receive a lump sum of cash that represents a portion of the difference between how much you’re borrowing and how much you owe.

Let’s say your home is valued at $400,000 and your mortgage balance is $150,000. That leaves you with $250,000 in equity. Your lender decides you can borrow $50,000 of that equity, meaning that amount will be tacked onto your new loan balance.

Personal Loan

When you take out a personal loan, you receive a lump sum of money after your application is approved. Generally, you must pay back the loan with fixed monthly payments over a fixed period of time, usually 12 to 60 months. A personal loan may be an attractive option if, for example, you’re making a big purchase, consolidating debt, or covering unexpected medical bills.

You typically can borrow anywhere from $1,000 to $50,000 with a personal loan.

Credit Card

A credit card, especially one with a 0% APR promotional offer, may be a good option if you’ve got a short-term need for cash. A card with a 0% promo offer charges no interest on certain transactions over a set period of time, such as 12 months. The 0% APR may apply to purchases, balance transfers or both.

Once the promo period ends, the regular APR kicks in. So, if a balance remains on the card when the promo period expires, the regular APR will be charged on that balance.

How Does a HELOC Work?

Similar to a credit card, a HELOC is a revolving line of credit based on the amount of equity you have in your home. Up to a lender-approved credit limit, you can borrow any amount of money you like.

During the borrowing period, known as the draw period, you usually pay interest only on the amount you borrow. But if you make payments on the balance during that period, the amount of available credit is replenished. After the draw period expires, you make payments on the interest as well as the principal.

(Video) Is the HELOC DEAD in 2023? - HELOC Rates Today

How Does a HELOC Affect Your Credit Score?

A HELOC can either benefit or damage your credit score. If you make timely payments on a HELOC, your credit score may go up. But if you make late payments or miss some altogether, your credit score could go down. Payment history makes up 35% of the widely used FICO credit score.

How Is a HELOC Paid Back?

Once the draw period for a HELOC ends—the period when you can borrow against your line of credit—the repayment period begins. During the draw period, you usually make monthly payments only toward the interest. When the payoff period takes effect, the monthly payments cover both the interest and the principal. The draw period usually lasts 10 years, and the payoff period normally lasts 20 years.

Is HELOC Interest Tax Deductible?

Whether you can claim a tax deduction for HELOC interest is a murky matter. For the 2018 through 2025 tax years, a HELOC interest deduction is not allowed. Meanwhile, interest paid on a HELOC before the 2018 tax year and after the 2025 tax year is deductible only when you use HELOC funds to buy, build, or “substantially improve” the home that serves as collateral for the loan.

(Video) Take Out An Equity Line or a HELOC? (Home Equity Line of Credit Step By Step Guide)


How to Get a Home Equity Line of Credit in 2023? ›

Here's an explanation for how we make money . Interest rates for home equity loans and lines of credit will keep rising in 2023 as the Federal Reserve continues to battle inflation.

Will HELOC rates go down in 2023? ›

Here's an explanation for how we make money . Interest rates for home equity loans and lines of credit will keep rising in 2023 as the Federal Reserve continues to battle inflation.

Will HELOC rates continue to rise in 2023? ›

Some economists project that HELOC rates will rise by roughly 2% in early 2023 and stay elevated through the year, peaking at close to 8%.

How easy is it to get an equity line of credit? ›

For you to qualify for a home equity line of credit, lenders will usually want you to have a credit score over 620, a debt-to-income ratio below 40% and equity of at least 15%. Most HELOC lenders will let you borrow up to 85% of the value of your home (minus what you owe), though some have higher or lower limits.

What disqualifies you from getting a home equity loan? ›

Too Much Debt

Lenders will rarely approve a loan for someone who is spending more than 43% of their income on debt, including mortgages, car payments, credit card payments, and student loan debt.

What is the average interest rate for a HELOC in 2023? ›

These Are Today's Average HELOC Rates: May 10, 2023—HELOC Rates Don't Move. Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on Forbes Advisor. Commissions do not affect our editors' opinions or evaluations. The average rate on a 20-year HELOC, or home equity line of credit, is 8.15%, , according to ...

What is the monthly payment on a $50000 HELOC? ›

Loan payment example: on a $50,000 loan for 120 months at 7.50% interest rate, monthly payments would be $593.51. Payment example does not include amounts for taxes and insurance premiums.

Is this a bad time to get HELOC? ›

Home equity lines of credit have declined for more than a decade. But HELOCs should make a turnaround in 2022 as mortgage rates rise to their highest levels since 2019. A home equity line of credit lets you borrow against your home's equity.

Is it a good idea to get a HELOC right now? ›

Home equity loans can be a good option if you know exactly how much you need to borrow and you want the stability of a fixed rate and fixed monthly payment. HELOCs come with variable rates, which make them less predictable. But rates are expected to drop this year, which means getting a HELOC might be the smarter move.

What is a good rate for a HELOC? ›

Top HELOC rates for May 2023
LenderAPRMax LTV
Third Federal6.99%80%
PNCFill out application for personalized rates89.90%
Frost8.50% to 18% (0.25% autopay discount included)80%
Regions8.50% to 15.375% (Regions client discount included)95%
11 more rows
7 days ago

What is the lowest credit score to get a home equity loan? ›

In many cases, lenders will set a minimum credit score of 620 to qualify for a home equity loan — though the limit can be as high as 660 or 680 in some cases. However, there may still be options for home equity loans with bad credit.

What documents are needed to get a HELOC? ›

You'll want to have an idea of your home's value, as well as documents showing your household income, Social Security number and any other outstanding balances. Lenders also will ask for a mortgage statement, a property tax bill and a copy of your homeowner's insurance policy.

Can I get preapproved for a HELOC? ›

Getting preapproved or prequalified for a HELOC can help you understand what loan terms you're likely to qualify for. Both can help you gauge what you can borrow and how much you can afford with a home equity line of credit. You can use preapprovals or prequalifications to compare different lenders' rates.

Do you need an appraisal for a home equity loan? ›

Does Your Home Equity Loan Require An Appraisal? Yes, your home equity loan will typically require an appraisal to protect your mortgage lender. Because you're using your home as collateral, a home equity loan is considered a secured loan.

Do you have to go through your bank to get a home equity loan? ›

Key Takeaways. You can get a home equity loan from a credit union, bank, or specialized lender. A good home equity loan should have no or low fees, a low fixed interest rate, no prepayment penalties, and transparent terms.

What credit score is needed for a line of credit? ›

Opening a personal LOC usually requires a credit history of no defaults, a credit score of 670 or higher, and reliable income.

Is HELOC riskier than mortgage? ›

A mortgage will have a lower interest rate than a home equity loan or a HELOC, as a mortgage holds the first priority on repayment in the event of a default and is a lower risk to the lender than a home equity loan or a HELOC.

How high will interest rates go by the end of 2023? ›

Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA).

“Long-term rates have already peaked. We expect that 30-year mortgage rates will end 2023 at 5.2%.”

Will home equity rates go down in 2024? ›

However, with the economy expected to cool and possibly dip into a recession, many recent forecasts expect rates to drop to 6% or below in 2024, including a Fannie Mae projection of 5.2%.

Will interest rates go down in 2023? ›

Mortgage rates are likely to decrease slightly in 2023, although they're highly unlikely to return to the rock-bottom levels of 2020 and 2021. However, rate volatility may continue for some time.

What is the HELOC payment formula? ›

HELOC Monthly interest-only payment formula = CHB × RATE , where: CHB - Current HELOC balance; and. RATE (monthly interest rate) = (annual interest rate / 100) / 12.

What debt to income ratio do you need for a HELOC? ›

Your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) is the percentage of your monthly income that goes toward paying your debt. While the percentage requirement can vary by lender, you can safely expect to need a DTI ratio of less than 47% to be approved for a HELOC.

What is the bad side of HELOC? ›

Pros and cons of a HELOC
Lower APRs than credit cards Tax-deductible interest Flexible withdrawals and repayments Potential boost to credit historyHome becomes collateral for the loan Borrower's home equity stake is reduced Interest rate could rise Potential to run up big balance quickly
Jan 26, 2023

What not to do when getting a HELOC? ›

In a true financial emergency, a HELOC can be a source of lower-interest cash compared to other sources, such as credit cards and personal loans. It's not a good idea to use a HELOC to fund a vacation, buy a car, pay off credit card debt, pay for college, or invest in real estate.

Why are banks no longer offering HELOCs? ›

The potential for a pandemic-driven crash in house prices certainly played a part, and several of these banks mentioned the potential for economic uncertainty at the time that they suspended HELOCs.

Is a HELOC a 2nd mortgage? ›

HELOC. A home equity line of credit or HELOC is another type of second mortgage loan. Like a home equity loan, it's secured by the property but there are some differences in how the two work. A HELOC is a line of credit that you can draw against as needed for a set period of time, typically up to 10 years.

Why is my HELOC payment so high? ›

If your HELOC has a variable interest rate, and that rate increases while you're still paying back what you borrowed, your monthly payment could be higher than what you can afford. If this happens, you should contact your lender.

How do I know if I have enough equity for a HELOC? ›

You'll generally be eligible for a home equity loan or HELOC if: You have at least 20% equity in your home, as determined by an appraisal. Your debt-to-income ratio is between 43% and 50%, depending on the lender. Your credit score is at least 620.

Are HELOC rates going down soon? ›

Given that inflation has been steadily declining each month this year though, the Fed signaled that ongoing rate hikes may no longer be necessary to bring inflation down to its 2% target. The central bank won't cut rates any time soon, so experts expect interest rates for HELOCs to remain elevated for the time being.

Do HELOC rates ever go down? ›

A HELOC with a variable rate will increase or decrease based on a particular index such as the U.S. Treasury rate or prime rate. 1 The interest rate you pay will increase or decrease based on the fluctuation of the index rate, plus a margin predetermined by your lender.


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