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Whether you have a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit (HELOC), it’s important to know what to expect when it comes to fees and penalties. Some fees you can’t avoid, but other fees you might be able to reduce or avoid altogether.
A home equity loan gives you a lump sum at closing, while a home equity line of credit gives you access to a maximum total credit that you can use at your discretion. The application process for both of these products is similar.
A reputable lender should never charge you a fee just to apply.
On this page:
Compare Home Equity Borrowing Options
Home Equity Loan Fees, Penalties, & Closing Costs
Most lenders charge closing costs to cover the expenses associated with originating the loan. These expenses include credit report fees, title search, property appraisal, attorney’s fees, and underwriter costs. When considering all fees, home equity loan closing costs vary from 2% to 5% of the loan amount.
Some lenders may charge points on the loan as they do with a mortgage. You can usually choose to pay the points upfront as a closing cost or bundle the expense into the loan amount.
Home equity loans don’t usually have prepayment penalties, so you don’t need to worry about paying extra money if you want to pay your loan off early.
Consider the cost of borrowing
Keep the total cost of borrowing in mind related to the dollar amount of the loan. If you’re paying high closing costs and points, you might find that the upfront cost is not worth what you’ll actually get as the proceeds from the loan. This is especially true if you plan to repay the home equity loan quickly.
HELOC Fees, Penalties, & Closing Costs
Closing costs on a home equity line of credit are much less than they are for a comparable home equity loan. Rather than basing the closing costs on the amount of the line of credit, lenders typically charge a flat fee origination.
This varies greatly among lenders. Some origination fees are charged as a fixed fee and are as low as $25, and others may be close to $1,000. In some cases, lenders may calculate the origination fee as a percentage of the total draw amount.
So you should weigh the origination cost against the amount of money you actually need from the line of credit. Other lenders waive the origination fee entirely if you also have your mortgage with them or if you keep the line of credit open for a specified length of time.
There may be a prepayment penalty later if you close the line of credit before the end of that time period. In addition, lenders usually charge some type of annual fee or maintenance fee to keep the line of credit open.
Be Sure to Shop Around
Fees, penalties, and interest rates can vary based on your credit score and the lender. You shouldn’t assume that they are going to be the same for every lender, so it pays to do some research before you apply for a home equity loan or line of credit. Some of the fees are negotiable, others are not.
Most borrowers don’t even bother to ask about whether the fees are negotiable. Think about the loan agreement as a contract where you do not have to agree to everything that is handed to you. Know what other lenders are offering and bring that into the negotiations. If you don’t like the terms that the lender gives you, try a different lender.
Here are two home equity lenders for you to consider.
Author: Kimberly Goodwin, PhD