Amerant, formerly Commercebank, was founded in North Miami Beach, Florida, in 1979. There are currently 23 branches (15 in South Florida and eight in Houston, Texas) and two loan production offices in Dallas, Texas, and New York. They are the largest community bank headquartered in Florida and currently have more than 800 employees.
With their rebranding in 2019 as Amerant, this community bank, which prides itself on its ability to understand their customers specific financial needs, adopted the tagline “Meant for You.”
The bank offers several personal and business banking products, including home equity lines of credit, as well as investment services. Homeowners in Florida or Texas with good credit looking for a HELOC may want to consider Amerant as an option. Amerant’s website features a Financial Education Center that has playlists of short video tutorials on banking topics ranging from financial literacy for teens to elder fraud prevention.
“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.”
If you own property in Florida or Texas, Amerant may be a good choice if you’re in the market for a home equity line of credit (HELOC).
- Home equity products include a standard variable-rate line of credit and a fixed-rate line of credit
- Average borrower credit score is above 685, which is considered “good”
- Typical approval response time is one day with most closings taking place within four weeks
- Fixed-rate HELOC rates start at prime rate with eligible discounts of minus 0.50 percent
- No application fees or origination fee
Pros and cons
- Fixed-rate HELOC option: For Amerant’s Fixed-Rate Choice HELOC, you can apply online or at a branch and lock in a low rate at any time during the draw period.
- No fees: 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 $150,000 you will also receive a 0.25 percent discount.
- 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 to $250,000, Amerant will cover your closing costs. For lines ranging from $250,000 to $2.5 million, closing costs range from $1,000 to $26,500.
- Limited availability: Amerant’s HELOCs are only available for properties in Florida and Texas.
Amerant offers several real estate loans including fixed-rate and variable-rate mortgages. They offer two home equity products: a fixed-rate choice HELOC and a standard variable-rate HELOC.
Fixed-Rate Choice HELOC
While many lenders offer traditional variable-rate HELOCs, Amerant has a Fixed-Rate Choice HELOC 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 $4,000.
This HELOC has a 10-year draw period and a 10- or 20-year repayment period.
The current APR starts at 4.75 percent, which is based on the Wall Street Journal prime rate as of July 31 minus 0.50 percent. The APR includes a 0.25 percent discount for automatic payments from your Amerant checking account, as well as a 0.25 percent discount if your initial draw is a minimum of $150,000.
To calculate how much you can borrow, Amerant offers a simple formula: take the market value of your property, multiply it by 0.80 and then subtract the mortgage principle. The result will be the maximum amount you can borrow.
Variable Rate HELOC
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. There is no prepayment penalty. To apply for this loan, you must visit a branch or set up an appointment with a banking specialist.
There are no application or origination fees on Amerant’s HELOCs, and there are no closing costs on lines up to $250,000. For closing costs over $250,000, loans originating in Texas will receive a $500 credit while loans originating in Florida will receive a $2,500 credit.
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 meet the initial draw requirements you will also receive an additional savings of 0.25 percent.
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.
On average, borrowers have a credit score of above 685.
The minimum debt-to-income ratio, or DTI, is between 40 percent and 50 percent, and the maximum loan-to-value ratio, or LTV is 80 percent on the primary residence.
Your APR will depend on your credit history, property type and occupancy, lien position and line amount.
How to apply
To apply for Amerant’s standard HELOC, you must visit a branch or call to work with a banking specialist. To apply for their Fixed-Rate Choice 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.
The typical approval response time is one day and the closing usually happens four weeks after application.
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 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. You can also visit one of their 23 branches23 branches in South Florida or Texas. To ask a general question, you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org — but be sure you don’t share any personal information this way.
And finally, the Amerant website has useful information about their products and history, including a Financial Education Center to help you meet your personal financial goals and learn more about different products and services.