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What is the difference between a second mortgage and a home equity loan?

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Wiki User
October 17, 2005 12:36PM

The difference is pretty simple, a 2nd mortgage is just that it's a mortgage that is in 2nd lien position. Basically if god forbid say a forclosure took place, that mortgage doesn't get paid off until the first lien mortgage is cleared. A home equity line of credit or HELOC can also be a 2nd mortgage since it is a lien on the property but it can also be a 1st lien mortgage if your home is completely paid off. A HELOC works like a credit card basically except in this case the house is collateral. A HELOC is basically a revolving line of credit on your home and you use it like a credit card, you make monthly payments which are interest only, you only pay interest on the money you are using at the time. If you take out say a 20,000 heloc and are only using 10,000 of it then you pay interest only on the 10,000, you have a minimum payment like a credit card and you can put money towards the principle to pay it down. Money that is paid off can be used again and this can go on for a 10 year period after which the heloc turns into a 20 year loan and you begin paying it like a normal mortgage, if there is a balance remaining. The rate is usually prime plus a certain percentage which is based on the amount of money being financed, you credit, and the loan to value percentage. It's a great alternative to doing a cash out refinance if you have a good interest rate on your first mortgage, I do many helocs and in most cases I do them with no closing costs at all.