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What are Home Equity Loan Rates, Fees, and Eligibility Criteria to Look for in a Lender

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Home equity loans are a popular way to pay for improvements to your home, consolidate your debt or even pay for big expenses like weddings and vacations.

If you have or had a mortgage and have been making your payments, you’ll most likely have some home equity you can use to borrow against. Because a home equity loan delivers your money in one lump sum, you’ll know the exact amount you’re borrowing, and you’ll have consistent monthly payments and a fixed rate.  Your interest rates and fees you pay depend on the lender you work with.

In this article, we’ll look at some of the major differences in home equity loan (also known as HEL) offerings and point to the competitive aspects of your loan. Reading this article will help you learn more about what to look for in a loan, what to ask your lender and how to compare one HEL offer to another.

Understand your home equity loan terms and rates

While you should carefully review any loan you’re considering, there are some quick things you can use to narrow down a list of potential lenders.

We’ve put together information on the three main areas where you can start comparing lenders: home equity loan rates, home equity loan fees and your eligibility. At the very least, you should be comfortable with these three areas before deciding on a loan.

What are Home Equity Loan Rates and How to Compare Different Rates

First, compare the rates of potential home equity loan options.  You can get a home equity loan with either a fixed interest rate or a variable cap interest rate. Discover® Home Loans has low, fixed rates. See the current rates here.

Home equity interest rates will typically depend on the loan amount, your credit, the value of your home, your equity, work history / income and other elements. Fixed rates will stay at a set Annual Percentage Rate or APR (your interest rate including fees/costs), and you’ll typically pay the same amount each month over the entire course of your loan.

Variable rate loans can change your interest rate over the life of the loan. Your variable rate depends on an index (often the Prime Index) plus a fixed margin above the index. The index rate will move over time.

Home Equity Loan Fees

Lenders make money in a few different ways when it comes to a home equity loan. Every lender is trading money today for a larger payoff over time, but you may also face some immediate costs. Review your potential lenders for fees, including:

  • Origination or Lender fees
  • Escrow services
  • Property appraisal fees
  • Title insurance requirements
  • Application fee
  • Closing costs
  • Prepayment penalties

The specific fees depend on your lender. With Discover Home Loans, there are no application, origination, or appraisal fees, and no cash is required at closing.

Eligibility Criteria for a Home Equity Loan 

A good lender is one who offers you a deal that you can reasonably afford. Lenders will look at a variety of statistics about you and your household to see if you’re eligible for their HEL. Make sure that you can meet all of the minimum requirements for each lender you’re considering. It’s even better if you can exceed those minimum requirements.

Typical Eligibility requirements you’ll want to consider include:

  • Your credit score. The minimum credit score varies by lender, but Discover Home Loans requires a score of at least 620.
  • Your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. The DTI ratio requirement varies by lender, but Discover Home Loans requires DTI below 43%.
  • Your combined loan-to-value ratio (CLTV). This is calculated by adding your mortgage balance to your desired loan amount, and dividing that number by your home value. Discover Home Loans offers loans from $35,000-$300,000 with less than 90% CLTV,  depending on your credit score.

Penalty for Paying off Home Equity Loan Early? 

A prepayment penalty is a fee assessed to a borrower when they pay the balance of the loan within a certain time period. Check for prepayment penalties on your loan when reviewing your loan documents and speaking with your potential lending partner. Be sure to talk with your lender and read through the agreement to be aware of any prepayment penalties.

Some lenders will include these penalties because they’re looking to protect the revenue they get from you—the sooner you pay off your loan, the less interest you’ll pay to your lender.

As with other elements of an HEL, you should always feel comfortable with the penalties your lender uses and the explanation they provide regarding those penalties. Discover Home Loans does not have a prepayment penalty but does require a small expense reimbursement if the loan is paid off within the first 36 months.

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  • Weekdays 8am–Midnight ET
  • Weekends 10am–6pm ET