Amerant: 2020 Home Equity Review

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Amerant, formerly Mercantil Commercebank, was founded in North Miami Beach, Florida, in 1979. There are currently 27 branches (19 in South Florida and eight in Houston, Texas) and two loan production offices in New York and Dallas, Texas. It is the largest community bank headquartered in Florida, and it currently has more than 800 employees.

The bank offers several personal and business banking products, including home equity lines of credit and investment services. Homeowners in Florida or Texas with good credit looking for a HELOC may want to consider Amerant as an option; it has two different HELOC products, one designed for lower loan amounts and one with a fixed-rate option.

“Amerant differentiates itself from larger banks and traditional lenders by providing our customers competitive rates, with a level of high-touch service that can simply not be matched when dealing with giant institutions,” says Senior Vice President Ian Schweid, head of products and channels. “We work hard to ensure that every individual feels the highest possible level of care.”

Amerant snapshot

Loan types offered HELOC
APR range Starting at 2.75%
Loan amount range Starting at $1,000 for Standard Equity Line of Credit and $25,000 for Fixed Rate Choice Equity Line of Credit
Minimum credit score required Not specified
Repayment terms 10-year draw period and 10- or 20-year repayment period
Average time to approval Not specified

Benefits

Some of the main benefits of Amerant include:

  • Fixed-rate HELOC option: For Amerant’s Fixed Rate Choice Equity Line of Credit, you can apply online or at a branch and lock in a low rate at any time during the draw period.
  • Few upfront costs: With Amerant, there are no application fees or origination fees.
  • Discounts: If you set up autopay on your HELOC from an Amerant checking account, you will receive a 0.25 percent discount. Also, if you meet the initial draw requirements of $50,000, you will receive an additional 0.25 percent discount.

Drawbacks

Amerant does come with a few drawbacks. These include:

  • Fees on Florida loans: For loans originated in Florida, there is a $500 cancellation fee if the HELOC is closed within two years; this fee is waived on Amerant’s standard HELOC product. There is also a $75 fee charged annually.
  • Limits on covered closing costs: For any lines up of to $250,000, Amerant will cover your closing costs. For lines of $250,000 to $2.5 million, closing costs range from $1,000 to $26,000.
  • Limited availability: Amerant’s HELOCs are only available for properties in Florida and Texas.

Types of fees charged

There are no application or origination fees on Amerant’s HELOCs, and there are no closing costs on lines of up to $250,000. For closing costs over $250,000, Amerant will cover up to $500 for loans originating in Texas and up to $2,500 for loans originating in Florida.

But loans originating in Florida have some additional fees. There is a $500 penalty fee if the HELOC is closed within two years of opening (this fee is waived if you select the Standard HELOC product), and loans are charged an annual fee of $75.

If you sign up for autopay with your Amerant checking account, all HELOCs receive a discount of 0.25 percent. If you make an initial draw of $50,000 and maintain that balance for the first three billing cycles, you will receive an additional savings of 0.25 percent.

Loan products offered

Amerant offers several mortgage loans, including fixed-rate mortgages, adjustable-rate mortgages and jumbo loans. It also offers two home equity products: a fixed-rate HELOC and a standard variable-rate HELOC.

Fixed Rate Choice Equity Line of Credit

While many lenders offer traditional variable-rate HELOCs, Amerant has a fixed-rate HELOC starting at $25,000 that allows you to convert all or part of your balance at any time during your draw period to a fixed-rate loan with a term of one, three, five, seven or 10 years. The fixed-rate loan requires a minimum of $1,000 in Florida and $4,000 in Texas.

This HELOC has a 10-year draw period and a 10- or 20-year repayment period, and APRs start at 2.75 percent.

Standard Equity Line of Credit

Like the fixed-rate HELOC, Amerant’s variable-rate HELOC follows a 10/10 or 10/20 draw and repayment schedule. The minimum loan amount is $1,000 in Florida and $4,000 in Texas, and there is no prepayment penalty. To apply for this loan, you must visit a branch or set up an appointment with a banking specialist.

How to qualify for a home equity loan with Amerant

In order to qualify for an Amerant HELOC, the property must be located in either Florida or Texas. The property must also have hazard, liability and windstorm insurance and may require flood insurance.

Your APR will depend on your credit history, property type, occupancy status, lien position and line amount. While Amerant doesn’t disclose credit score requirements, typically borrowers with scores in the mid- to high-600s and above are the most eligible.

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How to get started

To apply for Amerant’s standard HELOC, you must visit a branch or call to work with a banking specialist. To apply for its fixed-rate HELOC, you can complete an online application or visit a branch. After you complete all questions, you will be prompted to upload electronic copies of any required documentation.

Amerant’s Customer Call Center (305-629-1200 or toll-free at 888-629-0810) and Online and Mobile Banking Support Call Center (305-629-1260 or toll-free at 866-806-8125) are open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. You can also visit one of its 27 branches in South Florida or Texas. To ask a general question, you can email the bank at questions@amerantbank.com — but make sure not to share any personal information this way.

The Amerant website has useful information about its products and history, including a Financial Education Center to help you meet your personal financial goals and learn more about different products and services — so it might be a good place to start if you’re looking for more information on home equity in general.

How Bankrate rates Amerant

Overall Score 4.3
Availability 4.0
Affordability 4.8
Customer Experience 4.3

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by Bankrate.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the lender’s website for the most current information.