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Financing Your Business with Home Equity

Before turning to your home equity to fund your business, consider the potential drawbacks.
September 25, 2007
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/184692

Though many business owners at some point tap into home equity as a financing source, you need to determine whether this strategy is right for you.

First, you should know the basic difference between the two primary kinds of home equity debt. A home equity loan is a one-time lump sum that is paid off over a particular amount of time with a fixed rate and number of payments. A home equity line of credit--also known as a HELOC--works more like a credit card because it has a revolving balance. Interest is due on the outstanding balance and that rate may vary over time.

As long as your home has appreciated in value, there will be a bank or mortgage broker who wants to loan you money in the form of either a home equity loan or line of credit right up to your credit limit. It's in their best interest because they make more money that way. Yet just because you qualify for a home equity line doesn't mean you need to use it, particularly as a bank for investment purposes.

Quite a few things need to go your way for you to use your home equity line effectively. While home equity loan interest rates may cost you less than borrowing from other sources, such as a bank or even from a brokerage account, you still need to be very careful and perform your due diligence.

To borrow home equity effectively, you need stable interest rates and rising home values. In other words, this strategy works best during a strong economy. It's up to you and/or your team of advisors to determine the pulse of the local and national economy.

Even if you're operating in a strong economic environment, many financial planners would tell you that if you need to borrow from home equity, you may not be in the strongest financial position to make an investment in the first place.

Here are the things you should discuss with a trusted financial advisor before tapping into your home equity:

Home equity is a good option for many important financial goals, but you have to balance risk against potential reward. In many cases, it's good to hold home equity in reserve for a real rainy day.