Using Your Equity

How to use home equity to buy a second house

Family spending time in their second home that they purchased using a home equity loan

In competitive real-estate markets, it is important to have easy access to funds while purchasing a second home. If you are wondering whether you can use equity to buy another home, the answer is yes. A home equity loan from Discover® is a low-cost, convenient way to facilitate this purchase and cover a large portion of your down payment.

Ways of using home equity to buy another house

Conventional home equity loans, home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) and cash out refinance are the primary ways of using equity to buy another home. Many borrowers use a home equity loan to fund the down payment on the second house.

Calculate your home equity by subtracting your current mortgage balance from the current value of your home. If the current value of your home is $400,000 and you owe $300,000 on your mortgage, your home equity is $100,000. You may be able to use a portion of this equity through a home equity loan for a down payment on a second home.

Your combined loan-to-value (CLTV) ratio helps lenders assess the amount that they are able to lend you. Calculate your CLTV by dividing the total of your mortgage amount, the new loan, and any additional loans that you have against your home by the current value of your home. If the current value of your home is $400,000 and your combined loans total $300,000, your CLTV is 75%. 

Many lenders will only offer home equity loans for a CLTV up to 80%, while Discover Home Loans offers home equity loans for less than 90% CLTV. This maximum CLTV is to protect the lender from distributing a loan to a homeowner who could owe more on mortgage loans and home equity loans than their house is worth.

1. Home Equity Loan

A home equity loan is a lump sum of money you can borrow, using your home as security. Home equity loans typically have a fixed interest rate and fixed monthly payments over a fixed term of 10-30 years.

Since home equity loans are one-time, large deposits, they may be useful for putting a down payment on a second home or funding a large remodeling project. Use Discover Home Loans loan amount calculator to see the maximum amount you may be eligible to borrow for a home equity loan.

Discover Home Loans offers home equity loans from $35,000 to $300,000 with low fixed rates and zero origination fees.


A HELOC is a line of credit with a monetary limit, which you can access as needed for a second home loan. There is a fixed draw period during which funds can be withdrawn. There is also a fixed repayment period, commonly 10-20 years, during which the borrower finishes repaying the loan. Since HELOC interest can sometimes be variable and dependent on national economic factors, monthly payments may fluctuate and may increase as the repayment period progresses.

HELOCs may come with extra charges such as closing costs and application fees.

HELOCs may also come with transaction fees and annual fees from the lender. 

HELOCs are useful for financing projects spread over the course of years that have flexible costs.

While Discover Home Loans does not currently offer a HELOC, Discover does allow you to refinance a HELOC into a new home equity loan that offers low, fixed rates. See current rates here.

3. Cash-Out Refinance

Cash-out refinance involves rewriting your mortgage loan for a larger amount than you already owe. You can then take that extra money in cash and repay it along with your mortgage. If you have a $100,000 mortgage and you want to borrow $50,000 to buy a second home, you could potentially refinance your original mortgage loan for the combined $150,000 to do so.

Cash-out refinancing is useful if you already want to change your mortgage because interest rates have dropped, or the repayment term has decreased. Use the cash-out refinance calculator from Discover Home Loans to see how much cash you can get out of your home.

Discover Home Loans offers mortgage refinance loans from $35,000 to $300,000, with zero origination fees.

Couple researching how much home equity they have established as they use equity to purchase their second house

Home equity loans can provide you with a large lump sum of money for a down payment on a second house.

Advantages of using Equity to buy a second home

Using home equity to buy a new home can be advantageous since home equity loans are secured loans and are available for lower interest rates and higher borrowing limits than many unsecured personal loans.

1. Tapping into home equity helps capitalize on standing assets

By using home equity to buy a second home, you can pull from a stable source of money and possibly reduce the effects on your long-term finances. Withdrawing from certain other sources, such as long-term investments or a bank account, can possibly put a dent on you long-term financing plans.

2. Potential for large down payment

Home equity loans can provide you with a large lump sum of money for a down payment on a second home. This large down payment can pay off in lower interest rates, lower monthly payments and reduced insurance premiums.

3. Home equity loan fixed rates can offer predictability

Home equity loans come with lower interest rates than personal loans because they are secured. Lenders see home equity as a high-quality form of collateral. Home equity loan interest rates are also fixed, so you can build a budget to make consistent monthly payments over a set amount of time. Use the monthly payment calculator from Discover Home Loans to see how fixed monthly payments might work for you.

4. A second home can diversify your assets

As opposed to taking cash from savings or an IRA, taking equity out of your home to buy another house builds on existing real estate assets. You can continue to diversify your portfolio as your assets appreciate in value.

Visit Discover Home Loans to find the best solution for your personal and financial goals.

Disadvantages of using equity to buy a second home

While low fixed interest rates, high borrowing limits and steady payment schedules can make home equity loans appealing when buying a second home, there are some risks with this strategy.

1. If you are unable to repay loan, you risk losing both homes

If you use a home equity loan or refinance your original mortgage to purchase your second home, you are putting both your primary residence and second home at risk of foreclosure. When you default on a loan, the bank may have the ability to foreclose on your home to recoup the full value of the loan.

A second home also expands your pool of risk: if either of your homes’ value falls in a depressed market, you may find that the decreasing home value will have you owing more on your mortgage and home equity loans than the homes are worth at sale. If you are not planning on selling either home and can continue to afford monthly payments, this may not be a problem, but if you find yourself trying to sell either home, reduced market values could affect your ability to repay the loans.

2. May prevent refinancing of first home’s mortgage loan

Having a second home loan on your primary residence may prevent you from refinancing your original mortgage loan. Some lenders will not allow refinancing until the second loan is completely repaid.

3. Funds from home equity loan may not be tax deductible

Home equity loans and HELOCs may allow you to deduct the interest payments you make against the loan, but only when the funds from the loan go towards substantial home improvements and then you still need to consult your tax advisor to see if you qualify. When you use a home equity product to finance payment towards a second home, your interest payments are not eligible for tax deduction.

4. HELOC variable rates may fluctuate your monthly payments

If you use a variable rate HELOC to finance your second home purchase, you will likely see the monthly payments for the HELOC move up or down over the life of the loan. Some HELOCs typically can use a variable rate (as compared to the fixed rate of a home equity loan), which is pegged to a national economic index (usually the prime rate but check with your lender to understand which index affects your HELOC rate). While some HELOCs may permit converting to a fixed rate, you may have to pay additional fees for this service.

Alternatives to using equity to buy another home

A down payment of at least 20% will help avoid the additional expense of private mortgage insurance. Using a home equity loan for down payment on a new home can be considered as the most obvious choice, but there are other ways to finance the purchase of a second home.

Retirement funds

Most retirement funds will charge you a penalty and fees for any early withdrawals you make against the fund, even when they go towards the purchase of real estate. However, if you can accept paying these charges, retirement funds allow an easy way to earn financing that won’t include checks against your credit or even equity in your current home.

Personal loans

Like home equity loans, unsecured personal loans may allow you to find funding that you can put towards a second home. Compared with home equity loans, however, most personal loans will include higher interest rates and lower borrowing limits.

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