Tag Archive for: Refinance

Buying a House

HELOC Made Simple | Home Equity Lines of Credit Explained

Homeownership is a significant accomplishment that presents various opportunities. Besides the satisfaction that comes with owning a house, it can also be a valuable asset that helps you establish wealth. Homeowners can leverage the potential of their property using a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC).

For homeowners who require access to funds but are unwilling or uninterested in taking out a traditional loan, a HELOC can be a flexible and convenient financial option.

What is a HELOC?

A HELOC is a type of second mortgage that allows homeowners to borrow against the equity they have built up in their property. Equity is the difference between the current value of the property and the outstanding mortgage balance. With a HELOC, borrowers can access funds up to a specific limit, typically based on a percentage of their home’s appraised value minus any outstanding mortgage debt.

HELOC funds can be used for a variety of purposes. Homeowners can use the funds to cover various expenses, such as home renovations, education costs, consolidating high-interest debts, etc.

How Much Can You Borrow With a HELOC?

The amount of money you can borrow with a HELOC depends on several factors, including the appraised value of your home, the amount of equity you have, and the lender’s guidelines.

For example, let’s say your home is appraised at $300,000, your lender will give you a HELOC with 85% LTV, and you have an outstanding mortgage balance of $200,000. In this case, the maximum HELOC limit would be calculated as follows:

  • Appraised value: $300,000
  • Maximum loan-to-value ratio: 85%
  • Outstanding mortgage balance: $200,000

Calculation: $300,000 x 0.85 – $200,000 = $55,000

Based on these figures, you could potentially borrow up to $55,000 through a HELOC.

How Does a HELOC Work?

A HELOC has two phases: the draw period and the repayment period. The specific terms of a HELOC can vary between the two based on individual circumstances and lender requirements. For example, you may take out a 20-year HELOC with a 10-year draw period and a 10-year repayment period. During both periods, you will make payments on the loan.

Phase One: The HELOC Draw Period

During the draw period of a HELOC, homeowners can access the funds as needed. This phase typically lasts for a predetermined period, generally around ten years.

During the draw period, you can access funds from your line of credit as required, with the option to make minimum payments or even consider interest-only payments on the borrowed amount. However, it’s important to note that if you reach your available limit, you will be required to settle your outstanding balance before accessing additional funds.

Phase Two: The HELOC Repayment Period

After the draw period ends, the HELOC enters the repayment phase. During this period, homeowners can no longer withdraw funds and must start repaying the principal amount borrowed, along with any accumulated interest. The repayment period spans several years, typically 10-20 years.

It’s important to note that the interest rates during the repayment period may differ from those during the draw period. Homeowners should be aware of any changes in interest rates and adjust their financial planning accordingly.

Is a HELOC Right for You?

HELOCs are a popular financing option for homeowners for the many benefits they provide borrowers, including immediate access to funds. A HELOC could be an excellent option for you if:

  1. You want an interest-only payment option
  2. You have a fair credit score
  3. You don’t need all of the funds at once
  4. You can manage two house payments
  5. You want to be able to pay off and reuse funds as needed

Alternatives to HELOCs

If you’re considering tapping into your home’s equity, but a HELOC doesn’t seem like the right fit for you, don’t worry! There are alternative options that you can explore.

Home Equity Loans

A home equity loan is another way to access the equity in your home. A home equity loan may be a good option for you if:

  • You’re borrowing a small loan amount
  • You have a higher credit score
  • You want a fixed monthly second mortgage payment
  • You have the capability to handle two separate house payments.
  • You want to maintain the existing balance on your first mortgage.

Cash-Out Refinancing

Cash-out refinancing is another option to consider to access your home’s equity. A cash-out refinance may be a good option for you if:

  • You want the lowest possible payment
  • You have a lower credit score
  • You want a fixed monthly payment
  • You want one monthly mortgage payment
  • You can get a lower interest rate on the new mortgage than you currently have

HELOC Program at Michigan Mortgage

Michigan Mortgage helps you access the equity in your home quickly with our HELOC program. Within five days, you can pay off high-interest debt or carry out home improvement projects with our 100% online and speedy application process. Our flexible payment options enable you to withdraw funds as per your needs. Give us a call to learn more!

Home Snap

The COVID-Compliant Way to Refinance or Purchase a New Home

With all that is taking place around us, purchasing a home may not be top-of-mind for most people.

But then again, maybe it is. Before this crisis hit, the spring home buying season was just getting started. And the reality is, many families do need to sell and buy homes, even during a pandemic.

Home SnapOnce the crisis passes, there will be even more buyers and sellers. Some mortgage forecasters are predicting a pent-up demand of buyers flooding the market.

If you anticipate house shopping once the all-clear is given and social distancing rules are eased, now is the time to get ready.

Those who are pre-approved will be in a better position to have their offers accepted once the real estate market gets back into full or partial stride.

Another way home owners are taking advantage is by refinancing. Mortgage rates are still historically low. Many consumers are enjoying big savings by refinancing.

Many of you might be thinking, “how can I get a mortgage with social distancing rules in place and me stuck at home?”

The answer is: with the Home Snap mobile app from Michigan Mortgage.

Even in normal times, Home Snap offers convenience for getting a new home loan or refinancing. The app lets you do everything from the convenience of your home. The app lets you get pre-approved, view your progress, securely upload documents, digitally sign documents, and easily message your loan officer.

In these restricted times, Home SNAP is a necessity. Like workers at many companies, Michigan Mortgage loan officers are working from home for the time being. But that doesn’t mean the mortgage services we provide have stopped.

Using Home Snap, you can:

  • Start the Application Process
  • Calculate Payments Easily
  • Securely Scan and Upload Documents From Your Phone
  • Digitally Sign Documents
  • Message Your Loan Officer and Realtor Instantly
  • See Your Progress
  • Get Updates as You Go

With mortgage rates at record lows, many homeowners are taking advantage by refinancing their existing mortgages. Home Snap is ideal for these homeowners as well.

“We have many customers who are using Home Snap to refinance safely and securely while they are sitting at home, all without having to meet face-to-face. Customers love the convenience and safety, as well as the great rates.”says Mortgage 1 CEO Mark Workens.

In pre-coronavirus times, hundreds of Michigan Mortgage customers took advantage of Home Snap to get a new mortgage or to refinance. You can, too. To get started, visit the Home Snap page on our website.

This blog post originally appeared on mortgageone.com. Michigan Mortgage is a DBA of Mortgage 1. 

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The Pros and Cons of a Cash-Out Refinance

These are certainly crazy times. The COVID-19 Pandemic has the markets in turmoil. Many states, including Michigan, have issued stay home orders, and people are generally anxious about the future. People are looking for options and smart decisions.

One of the options many people have so that they feel more secure, is to do a cash-out refinance on their home. Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits and possible downfalls of this.

There are three reasons that I generally advise as sound financial reasons to do a cash-out refinance:

  1. Home Repairs
  2. Pay Off Debt
  3. Conservative Investments with a Financial Advisor

We will Address Each of these reasons in more detail below, but before we can get to the reasons, it is important to determine whether there is enough equity in your home to pull cash out. Equity is the difference between what you owe and what your house is worth. Generally, banks will not allow more than 80 percent of the appraised value to be pulled out in a cash-out refinance. Your lender will most likely need to do an appraisal to determine value; however, you can utilize sites like Zestimate to get a general idea.

Home Repairs

Pulling out equity to do home repairs not only adds value to your life, it oftentimes adds value to your home. If the added value is more than the cost to do the work, you have just made a good investment. So even though you added closing costs and principle to your loan, you could be ahead of the game when you do end up selling.

Paying Off Debt (Debt Consolidation)

Paying off credit card debt and high interest debt is usually met with enthusiasm from the client. This debt is oftentimes weighing heavily on client’s monthly expenditures and is gladly paid off. We will address precautions regarding that below.

Other than paying off credit cards, there are options to pay off other debt. Oftentimes clients balk at adding debt to their mortgage to pay off shorter term installment debt. The argument is that paying off this is unwise because it is added to a longer term on a mortgage. I hear things like “I only owe five years on the car, so I don’t want to add that to a 15-year mortgage.” The problem with this argument is that they are not thinking about what could be done with the money they are freeing up.

Here is the math:

Lets’ say someone has a $20,000 installment loan at 6% interest paying $386/mo. After 5 years they will have paid $23,160. If they were to consolidate that into a 15-year mortgage at 3% they would pay $24,840 in 15 years. But that is $1, 600 more you say? True BUT what if you took that $386 that you freed up and invested conservatively?  Making just 5% compounded annually over the 5 years you would make $25,594! If you kept that up for 15 years you would make $99,951!


Pulling out equity to make investments is a bit trickier. I do not normally advise this unless it is part of a financial plan overseen by a trusted financial advisor. The argument for investing is similar to the one that I made above. The problem is that investing is not for the weak of heart and hopeful gains can sometimes become devastating losses. If someone is going to pull out equity in their homes to invest, they need to have a CONSERVATIVE plan that has a high likelihood of success. Again, you really should have a financial advisor in on this plan.

Side Benefits of Doing a Cash-Out Refinance

Aside from home improvement, paying off debt and investing, a cash-out refinance might afford you the ability to lower your interest rate or remove mortgage insurance. This is especially true in the current market where interest rates have fallen and values of homes have risen.

Pitfalls to a Cash-Out Refinance

  1. Possible higher rate. As compared to a rate and term refinance (not pulling out extra equity), the interest rates on a cash out can be higher depending on your equity position.
  2. Enabling bad habits. Using them money to pay for vacations or buy non-essential luxury items is not a good idea for obvious reasons. Paying off credit cards can be a great idea as mentioned above, but if you then run up the cards again in a few months you have defeated the purpose. Be smart and don’t succumb to the allure of credit card debt.
  3. Foreclosure risk. Remember that a mortgage is a secured debt. If you don’t pay you can lose your home. Paying off unsecured debt with secured debt can be a risk if you simply cannot afford your debt. Occasionally, I have clients that come to my trying to solve all of their previous bad decisions with a cash-out refinance. Sometimes I can help but oftentimes, doing this is just prolonging the inevitable: they simply have too much debt and not enough equity to save the day.

Bottom Line

Using a cash-out refinance can make sense when interest rates are good and you have a sound use for the money. Do not use it as a rescue maneuver that could cause you to lose your home or to buy something you don’t need. In these trying times, it is imperative that you have good advice. We can guide you and help you make the best decision for your unique situation.