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How long does it take to get a HELOC?
By Miranda Marquit
Published on March 23, 2023
Read time: 5 min
A HELOC is a line of credit tied to your home’s value.
HELOCs typically allow you to access money as needed, up to your limit.
Setting up a HELOC usually takes less time than getting a new mortgage.
Once you’ve decided to tackle a big financial challenge, it’s exciting to hit the ground running. Just think—if you can access funds quickly, you can say goodbye to high-interest credit card debts and start saving money on interest payments. Or you can begin your home renovation project right away, without having to wait until you’ve saved up enough money.
If you’re a homeowner, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) might be the right solution to your financial puzzle. Let’s take a look at what you can expect.
How long does it take to get a HELOC?
It’s possible to have your HELOC approved and available in about 15 days—and sometimes less.
Your lender can help you understand what paperwork and documentation you need to speed the process along. You can shorten the time to approval and funding by getting ready before you apply.
The HELOC or home equity loan process
A HELOC is similar to a home equity loan and is largely based on the amount of equity, or ownership, you have in your home. Your home equity is the market value of your home minus the amount you owe on your mortgage. For example, if your home is worth $450,000 and you still owe $300,000 on your mortgage, your home equity is $150,000. Your lender will probably hire a professional appraiser to determine the market value of your home.
For both kinds of loans, the lender will also check your credit and verify your income. They’ll let you know how much you can borrow, based on your equity, your credit score, and the payment that you can afford.
Home equity loans and HELOCs are a little different in the way you receive the money:
Home equity loan: You’ll receive all of the money in one lump sum. You can’t change the loan amount later if you decide you need less or more than what you borrowed.
HELOC: You’ll be given a limit, similar to how a credit card works. For the first few years after you get your HELOC, you can borrow, repay, and borrow more, as long as you’re below your limit.
Home equity loans and HELOCs are second mortgages, so if you sell your home, you’ll need to pay off your loan as well as your mortgage.
How a HELOC works
The way a HELOC works is straightforward. The loan is divided into two parts:
Draw period: This is the first part of your HELOC, and it lasts for 5 to 10 years. The lender gives you a credit limit or maximum loan amount, and you can start withdrawing or spending funds as you need to. You might receive a credit card or paper checks tied to your HELOC account, or the lender might deposit the money into your bank account. If you pay down your balance, you free up more cash. You can spend up to your limit for the entire draw period.
Repayment: At the end of your draw period, you’ll start paying the loan back in equal monthly installments. The repayment period can be between 5 and 20 years, depending on the lender.
Most HELOCs today have a variable interest rate that can change throughout the draw period, and then a fixed rate for repayment. Sometimes the conversion from variable to fixed is automatic, and sometimes you need to go through a few additional steps. Variable rates are unpredictable and can make it hard to budget.
Some HELOCs allow you to lock a fixed interest rate on portions of your balance at different times during your draw period. This means you’ll pay multiple interest rates on your loan, which can make it difficult or impossible to double-check your statements for accuracy.
A fixed-rate HELOC has an interest rate that’s set when you get the loan, protecting you from a cost increase in the future.
Your interest rate will be based on various factors, including current market conditions and your own credit score. If you have a higher credit score, you’re more likely to get a lower interest rate.
During the draw period, you'll make payments based on the amount you’ve spent. Some lenders allow you to make interest-only payments during the draw period. That means you’ll be making a monthly payment, but zero headway against your loan. The benefit is that you get a lower payment during that time. The drawback is that when your repayment period starts, your payment amount will probably go up sharply.
On a fixed-rate HELOC you’ll make a monthly principal and interest payment based on your current balance.
Benefits of a HELOC
Here are some HELOC benefits to consider:
Relatively low cost: A HELOC is tied to your home, which lowers the risk for your lender. That means they usually have a lower interest rate compared to credit cards.
Potential tax benefit: HELOCs can be tax deductible if you use the funds for home improvements.
Easy access to cash: Once your HELOC is approved, you can get your money anytime you need it. You can use the money, up to your limit, as you need it. That could be paying off other debts, fixing up your home, covering an emergency expense, upgrading your electronics, or any other financial priority you have.
Flexibility: You have a great deal of freedom in how you can use your HELOC. This is one way to use your most valuable asset—your home—to meet your financial goals.
How to get your loan funded fast
Depending on the lender, you might be able to get your HELOC funded as quickly as 15 days. You’re more likely to have your HELOC funded quickly when you prepare with identifying information and documentation ahead of time. Find out from your lender what documents they require. Some items to have ready include:
Proof of homeownership.
Identification that verifies your name, birth date, address, and Social Security number.
Documents that show your income, such as pay stubs or tax returns.
Bank statements and other statements that show how much money or other assets, like investments, you have.
You also don’t want any surprises when the lender checks your credit. Check your credit report ahead of time in case there are errors or issues to address before you apply.
Last, be ready for the appraiser. They may or may not need to enter your home, but they will need to look around the outside. Find out when they’re coming so that you can secure your pets, unlock your gate, put away those stacks of laundry, pick up skateboards on the walkway, or do anything else you need to do to prepare for the visit.
Frequently asked questions
Can you get a HELOC immediately?
The vast majority of HELOCs take at least 10 days to fund. Your lender will order an appraisal, check your credit, and verify your income. Fifteen to 20 days is an appropriate lead time to expect if you prepare before you apply. Once your loan is approved, you can access the money throughout your draw period without additional paperwork.
Is getting a HELOC difficult?
As long as you have enough equity in your home, and meet the credit requirements, getting a HELOC is relatively easy. It’s easier than getting a new mortgage or refinancing your home.
Does a HELOC give me cash?
Yes, a HELOC provides you with a way to get cash, based on the value of your home and how much equity you have. Some lenders issue a debit card or paper checks that you can use to access your HELOC funds, or you might be able to transfer money straight to your bank account.
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