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Lenders have relaxed requirements
for home equity line borrowers

Lenders ease requirement for home borrowers Lenders continue to promote home equity lines of credit as a valuable tool to pay off credit card and other debt, and borrowers appear to be eating it up, according to a recent study.

The report, released by the Consumer Bankers Association, showed an overwhelming 40 percent of people with home equity lines cited debt consolidation as their reason for obtaining the loan.

Lending standards relaxed too, as borrowers in 1997 were able to get larger home equity lines through a shorter application process. Furthermore, people were able to borrow more despite higher debt-to-income ratios, and they were able to do so with more of their home's equity than in previous years.

  • The average home equity line rose 2.6 percent in 1997 to just under $41,000 even as the time to apply for them dropped to12.6 days from 14 days.
  • During approval, almost all of the lenders surveyed used a formula that compares an applicant's outstanding debt and net income. The average ratio rose 17 percent to 55.9 percent in 1997 from 47.8 percent in the previous year.
  • Lenders compute something called a loan-to-value ratio when deciding how much home equity credit to extend. For instance, they will look at a $100,000 home with $50,000 still owed on the mortgage and then extend a certain percentage of the $50,000 difference in credit. At 80 percent loan-to-value, a historical banking maximum, that amount would be $30,000.
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    Yet in 1997, the average maximum climbed to just over 91 percent from 86.8 percent the previous year. Some 43 percent of lenders had a maximum loan-to-value ratio of 100 percent, while another 5 percent even offered home equity lines with a loan-to-value ratio of more than 125 percent.
  • Total fees charged to home equity line customers fell almost 38 percent to $216 in 1997. The figure excludes fees eaten by the lender.


See Also
Paying off credit cards is a good use for home equity line
Time to tap your home's equity?
How to deduct home equity interest on your taxes
Home equity loans vs. lines of credit
Home equity glossary
Track prime rate/other leading rate indexes
More home equity stories


Home Equity
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$30K HELOC 4.56%
$50K HELOC 4.07%
$30K Home equity loan 4.96%
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