What is a second mortgage? A second mortgage is another loan taken against a property that is already mortgaged. Many people consider using their home equity to finance large financial needs, but mortgage industry jargon has confused the meaning of certain terms – including second mortgage home equity loan and home equity line of credit (HELOC).
A second mortgage is often, erroneously, referred to as a home equity loan, which causes confusion as to which type of loan you obtain. Be aware of this terminology and read the fine print if it is truly a second mortgage you want rather than a line of credit.
You can get a rough estimate of your available equity by subtracting all the debts secured by your home (i.e., your mortgage and any other home equity loans) from your home’s estimated market value. For example, if the market value of your home is $300,000 and you owe $100,000, you have $200,000 in home equity.
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I now avoid the term "home equity loan" and use "HELOC" to refer to any mortgage loan structured as a line of credit. While most of these loans are second mortgages, some are first mortgages. If you own your house free and clear and you want a line of credit secured by a mortgage, that loan is a HELOC, even though it is a first mortgage.
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Home Equity Loans. Often referred to as a lump-sum loan, a home equity loan is set up in a similar manner to your first mortgage but as a second loan after your first mortgage. Closing costs on second mortgage loans will be lower than those for first mortgages. However, home equity loans have fixed rates, which are a little higher than those on your first mortgage.
A fixed-rate home equity loan allows you to borrow against the equity you’ve built up in your home at a fixed interest rate and a consistent monthly payment for the life of the loan. Fixed-rate home equity loans are also known as second mortgages, and are much like first mortgages since the loan is secured by your home.
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Thinking about paying off your second mortgage with a home equity loan? Make sure you don't pay more than nominal fees. Q: My first.