Renovations named top reason for HELOCs – but many still don’t know what HELOCs do

February 15, 2018 - 2 min read

Remodeling’s the reason

Home renovations are the No. 1 reason homeowners take out HELOCs – or Home Equity Lines of Credit, but that doesn’t mean they’re popular by any means. In fact, according to a new survey from TD Bank, the majority of homeowners have never even heard of a HELOC – or the ways it can benefit their home and pocketbook.

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According to an on-the-ground survey conducted by TD Bank at the recent Philly Home Show, a whopping 59 percent of homeowners say they’ve never used a HELOC before. Additionally, TD Bank’s Home Equity Sentiment Index shows about one-third are unfamiliar with HELOCs.

2018: The year of HELOCs and cash-out-refinances?

For those that would take out a HELOC, the Home Show survey showed home renovations would be the biggest impetus. More than half named it their No. 1 reason; with bathroom remodels coming in top-priority. Outdoor renovations and economic renovations rounded out the top three.

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Renovating for returns

Mike Kinane, TD Bank’s SVP of consumer lending, said using HELOCs for renovations can pay big dividends when it comes time to sell.

“HELOCs provide homeowners with more flexibility when making key purchasing decisions,” Kinane said. “They are a particularly attractive option for renovations because they work in a similar manner to a credit card by allowing homeowners to take out lines of credit based on the value of their home, and only requiring them to pay back what they use. The value of your home increases when you renovate, giving you a positive return on your investment should you wish to sell later on. By leveraging your home equity, you’re putting dollars back into your home while improving your living space.”

HELOC or fixed home equity loan? What’s best for you?

Still, Kinane said, HELOCs aren’t only good for remodeling.

“HELOCs are an attractive option for homeowners as the funds can be used for various purposes,” Kinane said. “Although many homeowners associate them with renovations, they can also be used for things like emergency funds, college tuition and other big purchases such as a car.”

About 18 percent of those surveyed said they would use a HELOC to pay down debts or college tuition. Another 15 percent said they’d use it to finance a new property. Just 10 percent said they’d take a vacation with the funds.

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Aly J. Yale
Authored By: Aly J. Yale
The Mortgage Reports contributor
Aly J. Yale is a mortgage and real estate writer based in Houston who has contributed to Forbes and worked for organizations such as The Dallas Morning News, PBS, NBC, and Radio Disney.