Monday, May 28, 2012

Home Equity Loans: Variable Or Fixed Interest Rate?

Home equity loans are undoubtedly one of the cheapest sources of finance in the loan market. Their inexpensiveness comes from the low interest rates that these finance products feature. However, home equity loans can include fixed interest rates or variable interest rates. Each option has advantages and drawbacks. Which one should you choose?

There are many issues involved in this decision. These issues include the amount of money you can save on interests, the possibility to loose those savings due to changes in market conditions, the possibility to end up paying even more than what you projected, the possibility of being unable to repay the monthly installments and having to refinance your loan.

Home Equity Loans

Home equity loans are secured loans that guarantee the lender repayment of the loan with the remaining equity on your home. Equity is the difference between your home value and the outstanding debt guaranteed by the property (usually a home mortgage). The secured nature of these loans provides the borrower with many benefits.

For starters, with home equity loans you can obtain higher loan amounts than with unsecured loans. Moreover, you can obtain longer repayment programs and thus, lower monthly payments than with unsecured loans. But most importantly, these loans have lower costs because the interest rate charged is significantly lower than the rate charged for unsecured loans. All of this is due to the lower risk that the use of collateral implies for the lender.

Interest Rate

As Explained above, due to the lower risk, home equity loans feature lower rates than almost any other kind of financial product. These loans offer rates lower than credit cards, store cards, unsecured personal loans, pay day loans, cash advance loans, overdrawn agreements, etc. Probably the only loans that feature lower rates are home loans and some subsidized student and business loans.

Not only the interest rate is lower than almost every other financial product, it also comes in two shapes. You can obtain a home equity loan with a fixed interest rate or with a variable (adjustable) interest rate. There are some differences between these two kinds of interest rates than can be very important when it comes to deciding which loan best suits your needs.

Variable Or Fixed

A fixed interest rate stays unaltered through the whole life of the loan which in turn implies fixed monthly payments over the whole life of the loan too. This provides a lot of certainty to the borrower that can budget the loan payments with confidence knowing that they will stay the same each month. But, it doesn't provide such certainty to the lender who can suffer from inflation and loose money to a fixed rate. That's why fixed rates are always higher than variable rates at any given time.

Variable rates on the other hand, will change every three or six months according to the market conditions. Almost always these changes are moderate and don't alter monthly payments too much. However, if an increasing tendency subsists on the market, a variable rate can turn a home equity loan into a very onerous deal.

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