2008 ABA Issue Summary
Home Equity Loans
Jim Eberle, ABA Public Relations (202) 663-5477 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Home equity loans and lines of credit are convenient and popular financing tools.
• Borrowing against home equity is a cost effective source of credit. Interest rates are about
half the cost of credit cards.
• Unlike credit card debt, interest on the first $100,000 of a home-equity line generally is
• Home equity loans have allowed consumers to increasingly substitute mortgage debt for
other consumer debt, such as car loans and credit cards.
Demand for home equity loans may cool under current financial conditions but they are
likely to remain a popular option for financing home improvements and other purchases.
• In 2001, consumers began using home equity lines of credit more than home equity loans.
High growth in home equity lines of credit was partly driven by a rise in the price of
• Home equity lines have grown at an average rate of 32 percent since 2000.
Bankers recommend using home equity loans for major purposes.
• Home equity loans should be used prudently since defaulting on such a loan can put the
home at risk.
• Home equity loans should not be used to cover living expenses and should be used with
caution when purchasing items that will depreciate in value over time.
• Low rates make these loans an attractive option for homeowners looking to pay off other
debts, such as credit cards, or finance a major expenditure like a college education, home
improvement or medical expenses.
For the most part, consumers use home equity products carefully.
• As of the first half of 2007, delinquencies on home equity loans remained low compared
to most other types of credit with more than 97 % of home equity loans being paid on
• Less than 1 % of home equity lines were past due in mid-2007, the lowest rate of
delinquency of any consumer loan.
Home equity lines of credit, a variation of a traditional second mortgage, took off following the
1986 tax reform, which limited interest deductions on virtually all loans except mortgages.
Concern quickly grew that consumers might fritter away the equity in their homes, which for
most people is their most valuable asset. However, evidence suggests that a vast majority of
borrowers have been careful with their home equity loans, and ABA continues to urge prudent
*ABA Consumer Credit Delinquency Bulletin
AMERICAN BANKERS ASSOCIATION 61