Home Equity Loans vs. Second Mortgages: What’s the Difference?

Home equity loans and second mortgages can be interchangeable, however, if you look into it deeper, they have distinct similarities. Here’s the difference:

With a home equity loan, you can borrow money against the equity you have built up in your home. When you find some difference between your mortgage balance and the value of your home, then you can call it equity.

You will receive a lump sum from a home equity loan that you can use for any purpose, including home improvements, debt consolidation, or a significant purchase.

On the contrary, a second mortgage is likewise a credit that involves your home as security. However, it is a different credit notwithstanding your essential home loan. A second mortgage, like a home equity loan, gives you access to your home’s equity, but instead of a lump sum, you get a line of credit that you can use as needed.

After discussing the difference between their definitions, let’s dive into the more profound differences between them.

Home Equity Loans vs. Second Mortgages

• Loan Structure

Home equity loans mostly have the structure of a fixed-rate loan, which will require your lump sum of cash upfront and make a regular payment. Make sure you use the candle also intended.

Your monthly payment will be fixed and planned because the rate down’s fluctuates. It is anywhere from 5 years old to 10 years.

The second mortgage, on the other hand, is structured by variable rates. This means your interest rate may fluctuate if the market changes its interest rate. You’ll receive a line of credit from which you can draw up to a predetermined limit as needed. You’ll only pay interest on the amount you borrow, and your payment will be based on your outstanding balance.

• Loan Amount You Can Borrow

With a home equity loan, the borrowing limit will depend on the equity you build in your home, minus any outstanding mortgage balance. Usually, lenders allow up to 85% of the appraised value of your home, but some lenders have a lower limit.

The second mortgage is almost the same; the borrowing limit will depend on the equity you’ve built on your home. However, it is lower than a home equity loan; most lenders allow 80% of the appraised value.

• Loan Cost

Both loan types have other costs like origination fees, appraisal fees, and closing costs. But the costs associated with each classification will vary depending on the lender and the loan product.

Home equity loans come with higher upfront costs, but you can save on interest rates over the length of your loan. On the contrary, a second mortgage has lower upfront costs but may have higher interest rates over time.

It is essential to consider the long-term costs when deciding which loan product is the best for you.

• Loan Repayment

Of course, knowing how you will repay the loan is crucial. With a home equity loan, you’ll have to make a fixed monthly payment over a set of times. The fee will include both principal and interest, and your payment amount will be based on your loan amount, interest rate, and loan term.

The repayment schedule in a second mortgage is more flexible than in a home equity loan. You’ll only make payments on the amount you borrow, and you can choose to pay interest-only payments or make principal and interest payments.

However, since second mortgages are typically structured as variable-rate loans, so your payment amount may fluctuate over time.

Remember, both loan products require a home as collateral. You must make repayments to avoid losing your home.

Pros and Cons of Each Loan Product

Before deciding which loan product will best fit your financial situation, it will be a great help if you know the pros and cons of each loan product to save you from possible trouble in the future.

Pros of Home Equity Loans:

1. Fixed Interest Rates. Home equity loans usually come with a fixed-rate mortgage, which means your monthly payment will be the same for the rest of your term. Budget planning will be easier.

2. Lump Sum Payment. Home equity loans provide you with a lump sum payment, which can be helpful if you need a large amount of cash upfront for a specific purpose.

3. Tax Deductible Interest. The interest paid on home equity might be charge deductible, which can lessen your general taxation rate

Cons of Home Equity Loans:

1. High upfront Costs. Home equity loans usually come with higher upfront costs like appraisal fees, origination fees, and closing costs.

2. Risk of Foreclosure. Since your home will be collateral for the loan, there’s a risk of foreclosure when you fail to pay the loan.

3. Limited Flexibility. Once the lump sum is released, you cannot borrow additional funds from the loan.

Pros of Second Mortgages:

1. Flexibility. Second mortgages provide a line of credit that you can draw from as needed, giving you more flexibility than a home equity loan.

2. Lower Upfront Costs: Second mortgages typically have lower upfront costs than home equity loans.

3. Tax deductible Interest. The interest paid on a second mortgage may also be tax deductible.

Cons of Second Mortgages:

1. Variable Interest Rates. Second mortgages come with variable interest rates, which means your payments may fluctuate during the duration of your loan.

2. Risk of Foreclosure. If you can’t pay for your mortgage, there’s a risk of home foreclosure.

3. Limited Borrowing Power. The amount you can borrow with a second mortgage is typically lower than a home equity loan.


Home equity loans and second mortgages are two different loan products. They may have similarities, but when you research, you’ll see the difference between them.

When deciding the right option for you, research and comparison of the loan products are essential. It will save you money, time and trouble in the future. Assess your financial situation and goals; these factors have a significant significance in your choices.

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