Posted by Larry Doyle on May 20th, 2009 9:26 AM |
If you want to know just how inaccurate government loss assumptions were in the recently released Bank Stress Tests, let’s enter the world of HELOCs (Home Equity Lines of Credit).
Before we address loss statistics on HELOCs, let’s go to the Federal Reserve for a clearcut definition of the product. What is a Home Equity Line of Credit?
A home equity line of credit is a form of revolving credit in which your home serves as collateral. Because a home often is a consumer’s most valuable asset, many homeowners use home equity credit lines only for major items, such as education, home improvements, or medical bills, and choose not to use them for day-to-day expenses.
With a home equity line, you will be approved for a specific amount of credit. Many lenders set the credit limit on a home equity line by taking a percentage (say, 75%) of the home’s appraised value and subtracting from that the balance owed on the existing mortgage.
This mortgage product, often a second mortgage, developed as an enormously popular vehicle for homeowners to tap the equity in their home, especially during the period of significant home price appreciation earlier this decade. Make no mistake, though, it is just another form of leverage. (more…)