Have rates that are not guaranteed for the life of your term. Lenders can increase the rate premium they charge on HELOCs at any time. (By the way, Kudos to lenders like FirstLine, National Bank and Canadian Tire, who have refused to raise LOC rates on existing customers.)
Come in two flavours:Fixed…with mortgage rates that are guaranteed for the life of the
term.Variable…which have guaranteed spreads from prime for the life of the term (e.g., prime + 0.25% or prime – 0.50%).
Are fully open.
Are usually closed but can be open.
Require 20% equity
Often require just 0-5% equity
Offer interest-only payments
Don’t generally allow interest-only payments
Are usually reported to the credit bureaus—which can negatively impact your score (only a handful of HELOCs are not reported)
Are usually not reported to credit bureaus, and typically don’t harm your score even if they are.
Are technically callable by the lender—even if you make your payments on time.
Mortgages cannot be called as long as you abide by the terms of the mortgage.
Have higher interest rates, as of today
Have notably lower interest rates, for the most part
HELOCs are generally most suited to very financially stable individuals who value liquidity (quick access to their home equity).
Keep in mind, many of the things that make HELOCs unique can be either a benefit or a disadvantage, depending on the borrower. If you need help deciding if a HELOC is right for you, get some free advice from a mortgage professional.
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