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A home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC) can help you fund large projects or expenses. These forms of financing use your home as collateral for the debt, just like your mortgage does; in fact, they’re also referred to as “second mortgages.”
Applying for a home equity financing is similar to applying for a mortgage. You might have wondered, then, do home equity loans have closing costs? And how about HELOCs?
While the average closing costs for a home equity loan or line of credit can be comparable to primary mortgages — a range of 2–5 percent of the total loan — they’re often much less, amounting to around 1 percent. That’s partly because you’re borrowing a smaller amount (usually) and partly because some of the costs are cheaper or don’t exist.
Still, you’ll need to factor in these fees when determining the total cost of the loan or line of credit. Let’s dive deeper into both home equity loan closing costs and HELOC closing costs — and how to reduce them.
What are home equity loan closing costs and fees?
To give you an idea of what you might pay in home equity loan closing costs — helping you figure out the overall cost of your home equity loan — here’s a breakdown of the most common charges.
0.5-1 percent of the loan amount
Some lenders charge an origination fee up front — an expense just to get the ball rolling on your application. Amounts vary by lender but may be either a flat fee or a percentage of the amount you borrow. If the latter, it can be as much as 1 percent of your home equity loan.
Before they’ll fund your loan, lenders may require that a home appraiser determines the value of your property. Your home serves as collateral to back the loan, and they want to make sure they have an accurate, up-to-date assessment of this key asset. Generally, home equity loan appraisal fees come in between $300 and $450.
Credit report fee
As a part of any credit-based lending process, lenders check your credit score, doing a hard pull of your credit report. This typically incurs a fee between $10 and $100 per report.
Flat hourly rate (e.g., $100–$300) or percentage of overall loan (e.g., 0.5–1%)
This is one of those home equity loan fees that varies. Some states require that an attorney review your loan documents; others make it optional. Even when you don’t legally need this service, it’s a good idea to have a pro read and make sure that you fully understand the loan terms and that they dovetail with everything the lender originally told you. Many lawyers charge an hourly rate ($100–$300) to review loan papers, though some may have a flat fee. Figure on the legal fees comprising 0.5 to 1 percent of your loan.
Since it’s a lien on your property, a home equity loan has to be filed with your local county clerk’s office. And the agreement has to be properly witnessed and notarized. Again, this varies greatly among states: The cost of home equity loan processing with your local authorities generally runs from $20 to $100.
Title insurance costs
Not all lenders will require that you, the homeowner, get title insurance for a home equity loan — especially if you already secured this coverage when you got your original mortgage. If they do, the title insurance costs vary depending on the type of coverage your lender mandates.
However, unless you’re dealing with the folks who financed your first mortgage, you probably will have to take out a lender’s title insurance policy (which protects them against any claims or liens on the home). These policies can range from $500 to $3,500 for home equity loans
Title search fee
Since the home is used as collateral for a home equity loan, lenders will arrange a title search to see if there are any liens or claims to the property from another entity. This fee is typically about $100 to $450, depending on your area.
What are HELOC closing costs and fees?
While a home equity loan functions a lot like a mortgage — you get a lump sum you repay over time — a HELOC is a little different. It’s a revolving line of credit, similar to a credit card’s that you can access for a fixed number of years (and then repay over another set period). HELOCs don’t carry all the costs that home equity loans do (few require you to take out title insurance, for example). Still, there are some HELOC closing costs you should consider: specifically, the fees. Lenders generally charge money to keep this line of credit open for you.
This is a recurring fee for each year of an open account. The fee is charged regardless of whether you draw from the line of credit during the year.
Early cancellation fee
A percentage of your loan amount (e.g., 5% after three years) or a flat fee (e.g., $500)
If you pay your HELOC off and close the account while you’re still in the initial draw period — the lender may charge an early cancellation fee. It can be either a set amount or a percentage of outstanding balance.
There is one exception here, but it expires quickly. There’s a federal rule, the right of rescission, that allows you to cancel a HELOC (or a home equity loan) within three business days of opening it. You need to notify your lender of the cancellation in writing. When you do, they have to return any interest and fees you’ve paid.
Nominal (e.g., $5)
While this isn’t technically part of HELOC closing costs, keep it in mind. It amounts to a surcharge every time you draw from the HELOC. The transaction fee could be a fixed amount (not dissimilar to an ATM fee) or a percentage of the amount you draw. If your lender does impose transaction fees (not all do), you might want to keep your withdrawals few and far between.
In contrast to the above, HELOCs that have no transactions for a certain period of time might charge you — for not using them! Ask your lender if they charge these inactivity fees, especially if you don’t plan to draw from your line of credit frequently.
Early termination fee
Also called a prepayment fee or early closure fee, this is an amount your lender might charge you if you pay off your full HELOC balance ahead of schedule. Why? Because eliminating your balance prevents the lender from earning interest on it.
How to reduce your home equity loan closing costs
Home equity loan or HELOC closing costs can be expensive, but there are steps you can take to lower or eliminate them:
- Improve your financial profile. You’ll get a better interest rate on your HELOC or home equity loan with a better credit score. And one way to do that is to reduce your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio: By paying off other obligations, you’ll be in a stronger position to receive — or ask for — a break on the closing costs. The lender might waive certain fees or, as with a lower DTI ratio, wrap them into your loan proceeds to minimize your upfront expenses.
- Try your current financial institution first. Lenders often waive or discount fees for existing clients, especially those with a long relationship or sizable account. Don’t let the fee tail wag the loan dog, though: If your bank’s products aren’t competitive or suit your needs, go elsewhere, despite any little breaks it may offer you.
- Shop around. Knowledge is power, and even if you like your current lender, comparing closing costs among lenders can help you find the most affordable home equity loan or HELOC option. It can also give you some bargaining power (see below).
- Negotiate with lenders. Don’t be timid about negotiating on home equity loan/HELOC costs and fees. These added charges are often more flexible than the lender might let on. If a lender is unwilling to budge on its closing fees, consider working with a different lender.
- Explore no-closing-cost HELOCs or home equity loans. Some lenders offer these options, but don’t expect your home equity loan or HELOC to come free. Instead, the lender generally compensates for the lack of closing costs by charging a slightly higher interest rate, which means the overall cost of the home equity loan or HELOC might come out the same in the end.
Are home equity loan closing costs tax-deductible?
Unfortunately, no. While you might be able to deduct some of the cost of a home equity loan or HELOC — namely, the interest you pay on it — the IRS generally doesn’t offer tax perks for closing costs. But as you move forward, the interest you pay on your home equity loan can be tax-deductible, depending on what you use the financing for.
The bottom line on home equity loan closing costs
So, do home equity loans have closing costs? Yes. So do HELOCs, though to a lesser extent, as a lot of the cost of this type of borrowing comes down to fees you’ll pay to maintain and use the line of credit. The annual fee might feel like HELOC closing costs upfront, for example, but you’ll need to keep paying it yearly as long as the line is open.
To explore whether borrowing against your home’s equity is right for you, see how much you might be able to borrow with a home equity calculator. If you’re ready to move forward with a lender, be sure you understand all the associated costs, even for loans or lines of credit with “no closing costs.”