HELOC vs. Home Equity Loan: Understanding the Key Differences

Jan 08, 2024, written by Dennis Shirshikov

Embarking on the journey of buying a vacation home is an exciting venture for families. As you navigate the financial landscape of this decision, understanding the nuances between a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) and a Home Equity Loan becomes pivotal. Both options leverage the equity in your home, yet they cater to different needs and scenarios. This guide will delve into these differences, helping you make an informed choice. Additionally, we'll showcase how Summer's flexible, affordable solutions help simplify the homebuying process and take the headache out of contracts, financing, and more.

HELOC vs. Home Equity guide

Before we dive into the specifics, it's essential to grasp the basic concept of equity loans and HELOCs. Both are methods of borrowing against the equity in your home, which is the difference between the market value of your home and any outstanding mortgage balance. However, the structure, access to funds, and repayment models differ significantly.


HELOC: A HELOC operates as a revolving line of credit, akin to a credit card. It offers a set credit limit, and you can borrow and repay as needed during the draw period, typically 5 to 10 years. The interest rate here is variable, meaning it can fluctuate over time.

Home Equity Loan: Conversely, a home equity loan provides a lump sum of money upfront, repaid over a fixed term, usually ranging from 5 to 30 years. The interest rate is typically fixed, offering predictability in repayments.

Access to Funds

HELOC: With a HELOC, you can draw funds as needed up to your credit limit during the draw period, accessing them via checks, credit cards, or electronic transfers.

Home Equity Loan: This option delivers a one-time lump sum payment. Once disbursed, you cannot access additional funds without refinancing or taking out another loan.


HELOC: During the draw period, you generally make interest-only payments on the amount borrowed. After this period ends, the repayment period begins, usually lasting 10 to 20 years, during which you repay both principal and interest.

Home Equity Loan: This loan type involves fixed monthly payments over the loan term, encompassing both principal and interest, starting immediately after disbursement.

Interest Rates

HELOC: HELOCs typically feature variable interest rates tied to a benchmark rate, like the prime rate, making them susceptible to market changes.

Home Equity Loan: These loans usually come with fixed interest rates, ensuring consistent monthly payments throughout the loan term.

Cost Structure

HELOC: HELOCs often have lower upfront costs, as you only pay interest on the borrowed amount during the draw period. However, they might include closing costs, annual fees, or early closure fees.

Home Equity Loan: These loans generally have higher upfront costs, including closing costs akin to a primary mortgage, but typically lack annual fees or early closure fees.

Purpose of Use

HELOC: Ideal for ongoing or variable expenses like renovations or education, HELOCs offer flexibility in fund access.

Home Equity Loan: Suited for specific, one-time expenses, these loans offer a fixed payoff timeline, useful for major home improvements or consolidating debts.

Credit Score and DTI Ratio Considerations

Your credit score and debt-to-income (DTI) ratio play crucial roles in determining eligibility and terms for both HELOCs and home equity loans. A higher credit score can secure better interest rates and terms, while a favorable DTI ratio indicates your ability to manage and repay new debt efficiently.

Simplifying the Homebuying Process With Summer

Navigating these options can be daunting, but that's where Summer shines. Our homebuying experts, equipped with in-depth knowledge of equity loans, HELOCs, and the broader financial landscape, offer personalized guidance tailored to your unique situation. Our flexible, affordable home buying solutions cover all aspects of the process, from understanding your credit score to handling intricate paperwork. We ensure a seamless, stress-free journey towards your dream vacation home.

Deciding between a HELOC and a home equity loan hinges on your financial goals, borrowing needs, and repayment preferences. While both offer the advantage of lower interest rates, thanks to using your home's equity as collateral, the right choice varies based on individual circumstances. To navigate this critical decision and embark on your home buying journey, we invite you to book a free consultation with Summer. Our experts are ready to help you realize your dream of owning a perfect vacation home, ensuring a smooth, hassle-free experience every step of the way.

This article was written by
Dennis Shirshikov

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