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How to Use a HELOC to Build Wealth


A home equity line of credit (HELOC) can help you build wealth, if used wisely. By tapping into the equity of your home, you can access funds at relatively low interest rates. This capital can be used for various investment opportunities, such as purchasing rental properties, investing in the stock market or funding home improvements that increase your property’s value. For help understanding how to build wealth or how debt can factor into those goals, talk to a financial advisor.

What Is a HELOC?

A HELOC is a revolving credit line that allows homeowners to borrow against the equity in their homes. Essentially, it functions much like a credit card, providing a flexible borrowing option that can be accessed as needed. The amount you can borrow is typically based on the difference between your home’s current market value and the outstanding mortgage balance, with lenders often allowing up to 85% of this equity to be used as collateral.

When you open a HELOC, the lender sets a borrowing limit based on your home equity and creditworthiness. The draw period, usually lasting five to 10 years, is when you can withdraw funds. During this time, you often only need to make interest payments on the amount borrowed. After the draw period ends, the repayment period begins, during which you repay both principal and interest.

One of the main benefits of a HELOC is its flexibility. Unlike traditional loans, you don’t receive a lump sum upfront; instead, you draw funds as needed, paying interest only on the borrowed amount. This can lead to significant savings if you only need funds intermittently. Additionally, interest rates on HELOCs are generally lower than those on credit cards and unsecured loans, making it a cost-effective borrowing option.

How to Build Wealth With a HELOC

A woman looking up investments on her phone.

By leveraging your home’s value, you can secure funds at relatively low interest rates and use them for various wealth-building activities. Here are four examples of ways that a HELOC might be able to help you build your own wealth:

  • Invest in more real estate: Using a HELOC to purchase additional real estate can be a lucrative investment. Rental properties can generate steady income and appreciate over time, increasing your overall net worth.
  • Fund home improvements: Investing in home improvements with a HELOC can enhance your property’s value. Upgrades such as kitchen remodels, energy-efficient installations, or adding extra living space can lead to a higher resale value and more equity.
  • Consolidate debt: A HELOC can be used to consolidate high-interest debt, such as credit card balances. By paying off these debts with a HELOC, you can lower your overall interest payments and improve your financial situation. This can lead to more cash to invest or prevent a bad financial event.
  • Starting a business: If you’ve been considering starting your own business, a HELOC can provide the necessary capital. This allows you to invest in business operations, inventory or marketing, potentially leading to substantial financial gains.

A HELOC can also serve as an emergency fund that could prevent you from dipping into higher-interest debt if something unexpected happens. Overall, the way to utilize a HELOC to build wealth will depend on your own financial situation, though. That’s why it’s important to consult with a financial advisor before moving forward.

How to Get a HELOC

Obtaining a HELOC involves several key steps. First, evaluate your home’s equity by subtracting your outstanding mortgage balance from its current market value. Keep in mind, as we mentioned earlier, that this equity serves as collateral for the HELOC — lenders could allow you to borrow up to 85% of your home’s equity.

The process begins with gathering necessary documentation, including proof of income, tax returns and details about your existing mortgage. Contacting multiple financial institutions to compare their HELOC offerings can help you find favorable terms. After selecting a lender, you’ll complete an application, which will involve a credit check and a home appraisal to confirm its value.

Once approved, the lender will set a credit limit based on your home’s equity and your financial profile. The terms of the HELOC will include the length of the draw period, during which you can borrow funds, and the repayment period. Interest rates for HELOCs are usually variable, so it’s important to understand how rate changes can impact your payments.

Bottom Line

A mother enjoying a vacation with her son after earning returns from her investments.

By tapping into your home’s equity, you can access funds for investment opportunities such as real estate, home improvements and more, all of which can enhance your financial portfolio and increase your net worth. However, make sure that you use these funds wisely so that each investment aligns with your long-term financial goals. Consulting with a financial advisor can help you understand the benefits and drawbacks of using a HELOC and create a tailored strategy for building wealth effectively.

Tips for Investing

  • A financial advisor has the expertise to help you build wealth for the long haul. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • For help estimating how your assets could perform over time, consider using an investment calculator.

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