When it comes to your financial stability, planning ahead is essential. A Home Equity Line of Credit (or HELOC) can gain you an added level of financial security for the future, and is best considered while you’re in a healthy financial position.
A HELOC gives you the ability to draw upon the value of your home, but you’re never obligated to do so. You can simply pay an annual fee to know that you have access, if needed, without incurring debt. When might a HELOC be of use?
To Finance Home Improvements
The most common and generally intended use of a HELOC is to finance home improvements. In fact, the interest you pay on a home equity loan is typically only tax-deductible if you use the money for home-related purposes (it is important to keep accurate records of what you used the HELOC for). If you’re thinking about borrowing to fund home improvements or repairs and anticipate paying off the amount in a short timeframe, drawing upon your HELOC might be the best choice. However, if you’re unsure about paying down the balance within a five-year period, you might be better off refinancing your home to secure a lower, fixed interest rate.
To Cover Emergency Expenses or Consolidate Debt
Ideally, you have an emergency fund available to cover large, unanticipated expenses. If not, your HELOC could be an appropriate way to access capital. Additionally, paying interest might be cheaper than incurring capital gains by selling investments, especially if the funds are only needed for a short period of time.
If You’re Thinking of Moving
A home equity loan can offer the liquidity you might need to make a down payment on a new house, or to cover the basic expenses related to buying and selling your property. However, it’s important to note that you typically can’t get a home equity loan once your house is listed for sale, so be sure to apply for and draw against your HELOC before staking the ‘For Sale’ sign in your front yard.
If You Lose Your Job
One important reason to consider obtaining a HELOC is to provide for you and your family in the event you lose your job. It can pay to have a line of credit available in advance, just in case. People often scramble to obtain a HELOC when they lose their job, but it’s often too late as you must have secure income to qualify.
Should You Need To Move Out of Your Home
Another qualifying factor to obtaining a HELOC is that you’re currently residing in your home. If you suddenly encounter a family or housing crisis and are no longer able to live there, obtaining a loan could become problematic, during what’s already a challenging time. Again, planning ahead can ensure you have the security of a home equity line of credit available should you need it.
If the Bulk of Your Savings Are in Retirement Accounts
Most Americans hold the bulk of their savings in retirement accounts like IRAs and 401(k)s. Withdrawals from such accounts are subject to ordinary income taxes, plus possible penalties if you’re under age 59 1/2. This makes taking money out for short-term expenses all the more costly. If your net worth is predominantly in qualified retirement accounts, and you need capital while you’re still working, a HELOC might be the best solution if you’re able to repay it in a timely fashion.
The Value of Your House Declines
Finally, an uncommon but certainly plausible reason for why you might benefit from establishing a HELOC now is if the value of your home declines in the future. While home values typically rise, every asset goes through market cycles, and banks can pull back on home equity loans during a housing crisis. As with other aspects of your finances, it’s best to be prepared.
Your house is typically one of your largest assets. SageVest Wealth Management recognizes its significance as part of your broader financial landscape, and also the security and safety it affords as a home for you and your family. That’s why we always embed customized house-related planning considerations as part of our comprehensive financial planning services. Please contact us to explore how a HELOC or other housing strategies might benefit you and your loved ones.