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6 big reasons to choose a home equity loan over a personal loan right now

Real Estate Money House
A personal loan is one good option to consider in today's rate climate, but a home equity loan could offer bigger benefits to borrowers. Getty Images

In today's high-rate environment, borrowers face a challenging landscape. Most traditional borrowing options have become increasingly expensive, making it difficult to find affordable ways to access the funds you need. And, whether you need the money for home improvements, debt consolidation or other major expenses, the search for cost-effective financing can be daunting.

Amid the high-cost options, though, there are still a handful of relatively affordable borrowing avenues to consider, and two of the most promising choices in the current economy are personal loans and home equity loans. Both options stand out due to their comparatively lower average rates, offering more affordable ways to borrow for those in need of funds.

As a result, many people are carefully weighing which loan option makes more sense right now. While both are worth considering in today's economic climate, home equity loans may have a distinct edge over personal loans for a few different reasons. Below, we'll detail why home equity loans might be the superior choice if you need to borrow money right now. 

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6 big reasons to choose a home equity loan over a personal loan right now

Here are a few of the advantages home equity loans can offer over personal loans right now:

Home equity loan rates are lower

One of the most significant advantages that home equity loans have over personal loans in the current market is that they come with substantially lower interest rates. Right now, the average home equity loan rate is 8.60% while the average personal loan rate is 12.35%. This difference in rates may seem small at first glance, but it can translate into thousands of dollars in savings over the life of the loan. And, for homeowners looking to borrow large sums, this interest rate gap becomes even more impactful, potentially saving tens of thousands of dollars in interest.

Find out how affordable the right home equity loan could be for you.

You can access higher borrowing limits

Home equity loans typically offer higher borrowing limits compared to personal loans. That's especially true in today's housing market. Over the last several years, home equity levels have increased significantly, leaving the average homeowner with about $206,000 in tappable home equity

And, unlike personal loans, which are an unsecured type of loan, home equity loans use your home as collateral, giving lenders more confidence to approve larger loan amounts. So, for homeowners with significant equity built up in their property, this can mean access to substantial funds that might not be available through a personal loan. This higher borrowing capacity can be particularly beneficial for those undertaking major home renovations this summer or for those consolidating high-interest debts in today's high-rate environment. 

There are potential tax benefits

Another key advantage of home equity loans is the potential for tax benefits. If you use the funds from a home equity loan to substantially improve your home, the interest you pay may be tax-deductible. This is a significant benefit not available with personal loans. 

However, it's crucial to note that tax laws can be complex, even when it comes to home equity tax deductions. In turn, you should consider consulting with a qualified tax professional to understand how this might apply to your specific situation and to ensure you're complying with current tax regulations.

Longer repayment terms are available

Home equity loans also often come with the option for longer repayment terms compared to personal loans. While personal loans typically have terms ranging from one to seven years, home equity loans can extend to 15 or even 30 years (depending on the options offered by the lender you work with). This extended repayment period can result in lower monthly payments, making it easier for borrowers to manage their cash flow. 

However, it's important to consider that while the longer terms tied to home equity loans mean lower monthly payments, they also mean paying more in interest over the life of the loan. In turn, you should carefully weigh the trade-off between lower monthly payments and overall loan cost before making a decision.

The approval process could be easier

Because home equity loans are secured by your property, they may be easier to qualify for than unsecured personal loans, especially if you have a significant amount of equity in your home. Lenders view these loans as lower risk, which can translate into more lenient approval criteria. This can be particularly beneficial for borrowers with less-than-perfect credit who might struggle to qualify for a personal loan or who would only qualify at very high interest rates. 

It's important to remember, though, that easier approval doesn't mean automatic approval. Lenders will still evaluate your credit score, income and debt-to-income ratio as part of the lending process.

There may be fewer restrictions

Home equity loans offer great flexibility in how you can use the funds. While they're often associated with home improvements, the reality is that you can use the money from a home equity loan for almost any purpose. This could include consolidating high-interest debt, paying for a child's education, starting a business or even taking a dream vacation. 

Personal loans, on the other hand, sometimes have restrictions on how the funds can be used, depending on the lender and the specific loan product.

Other factors to consider

While there are many reasons that home equity loans can be an attractive option in the current financial climate, it's still crucial to approach this decision with caution. Using your home as collateral to borrow money means that if you default on the loan, you risk losing your home to foreclosure. In turn, it's essential to have a solid repayment plan in place and to borrow responsibly.

And, market conditions can change, so what makes sense today might not be the best choice in the future. Always consider your financial situation, long-term goals and risk tolerance when deciding between a home equity loan and a personal loan. 

The bottom line

While personal loans have their place in the financial toolkit, the current market conditions make home equity loans an attractive option for many homeowners. Lower interest rates, higher borrowing limits, potential tax benefits and other advantages are compelling reasons to consider tapping into your home's equity. However, as with any major financial decision, it's crucial to do your due diligence, understand the terms and conditions and ensure that a home equity loan aligns with your overall financial strategy and goals.

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