Best HELOC and Home Equity Lenders In Georgia

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Home prices have risen by double digits since last year, putting homeowners in a great position to turn their newfound home equity into cash. 

Those who live in the state of Georgia are no exception to this. In fact, the median home sales price in the Peach State is up 12.6% year-over-year as of September, according to the Georgia Association of Realtors.

By tapping home equity, you’ll be able to use the proceeds for things like paying for home repairs, conducting upgrades to your home, remodeling your bathroom, funding college expenses, and much more. And in the Peach State that is Georgia, you’ll have plenty of choices when it comes to home equity loan and line of credit (HELOC) lenders. 

If you’re not sure where to start or what to look for in a lender, continue reading on as we’ve done the legwork with our picks for the best HELOC and home equity lenders in Georgia.  

Editorial Independence

As with all of our home equity loan and home equity line of credit (HELOC) lender reviews, our analysis is not influenced by any partnerships or advertising relationships. For more information about our scoring methodology, click here.

Best National HELOC and Home Equity Loan Lenders in Georgia

Good for wide nationwide availability
U.S. Bank
U.S. Bank
Good for wide nationwide availability
U.S. Bank
  • Products offered:
    Home equity loan, HELOC, rate-lock HELOC
  • Home equity loan terms:
    Up to 30 years
  • HELOC terms:
    10-year draw period, unspecified repayment period
  • Maximum LTV allowed:
    80%

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Rate discount for setting up autopay from a U.S. Bank checking or savings account (home equity loans only)
  • Extensive availability nationwide (47 states for both home equity loans and HELOCs)
  • Can apply online, over the phone, or in person at a branch
  • Good price transparency
  • Many customer support options
Cons
  • There may be an annual fee for HELOCs if you don’t have a U.S. Bank Platinum Checking Package
  • Not available in TX, DE, SC
  • Potential early closure fee if you close your HELOC within 30 months of opening
The Bottom Line

Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. Bank is the fifth largest banking institution in the U.S. It offers both home equity loans and HELOCs in 47 states, with the option of interest-only HELOCs  available to qualified borrowers. You also have the option to lock all or part of your outstanding HELOC balance into a fix-rate option during your draw period. Available loan amounts for HELOCs and home equity loans range from $15,000 to $750,000, and up to $1 million for properties in California.

There are no closing costs on home equity loans or HELOCs from U.S. Bank, but you’ll be charged an early closure fee of 1% of the line amount ($500 max) if you close your HELOC within 30 months of opening. In addition, HELOC borrowers may be charged an annual fee of up to $90, which can be waived with a U.S. Bank Platinum Checking Package. U.S. Bank offers a rate discount of 0.5% for home equity loan borrowers who set up automatic payments from a U.S. Bank personal checking or savings account.

You can apply for a home equity loan or HELOC through an online application, by phone, or by visiting a U.S. Bank branch in person. If you want a loan estimate for a home equity loan — which includes the estimated interest rate, monthly payment, and total closing costs — without completing a full application, you can get one by speaking with a banker over the phone. 

We like U.S. Bank because of its extensive nationwide availability, many customer support options, and excellent price transparency — meaning you can get a personalized rate quote and fee information just by filling out some basic information, no credit check required. 

Good for wide range of customer service options
Connexus Credit Union
Connexus Credit Union
Good for wide range of customer service options
Connexus Credit Union
  • Products offered:
    Home equity loan, HELOC, interest-only HELOC
  • Home equity loan terms:
    5 to 15 years
  • HELOC terms:
    15-year draw period, 15-year repayment period
  • Maximum LTV:
    90% for home equity loans

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • No annual fee
  • Available in 46 states
  • Excellent customer service options
  • Membership requirements are relatively easy to meet
Cons
  • Credit check required to get a personalized rate quote and product terms
  • Not available in Alaska, Hawaii, Maryland, and Texas
  • Potential for high closing costs
  • Must be a member of the credit union to get a loan
The Bottom Line

With over 420,000 members in all 50 states, Connexus Credit Union has a far reach in the United States. The credit union offers home equity loans and HELOCs in 46 states (excluding Alaska, Hawaii, Maryland, and Texas). Loan amounts for home equity loans and HELOCs range from $5,000 to $200,000. Within its HELOC product offerings is an interest-only HELOC which may allow you to pay a lower monthly payment. Since Connexus is a credit union, its products are only available to members. But, membership eligibility is open to most people: you (or a family member) just need to be a member of one of Connexus’s partner groups, reside in one of the communities or counties on Connexus’s list, or become a member of the Connexus Association with a $5 donation to Connexus’s partner nonprofit. 

Connexus does not specify any rate discounts, but it does offer an introductory rate for the first six months of your loan term. You won’t have to pay an annual fee for a home equity loan or HELOC with Connexus, but closing costs can range from $175 to $2,000 depending on your loan terms and property location. 

To apply for a home equity loan or HELOC with Connexus, you can fill out a 3-step application online. Though the application process is quick, you won’t be able to see a personalized rate or product terms without a credit check.

Connexus offers expansive nationwide availability and has several product offerings, part of the reason this lender ranked highly for us. Its straightforward application process is another bonus that makes applying for a home equity loan or HELOC easy.

Good for online application user experience
Spring EQ
Spring EQ
Good for online application user experience
Spring EQ
  • Products offered:
    Home equity loan, HELOC, interest-only HELOC
  • Home equity loan terms:
    5 to 30 years
  • HELOC terms:
    10-year draw period, 20-year repayment period
  • Maximum LTV:
    90% for home equity loans, 97.5% for HELOCs

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • No credit check required to see personalized rates
  • Available in 38 states
Cons
  • Origination fee of $995
  • Minimum credit score of 620 required
  • No specified rate discounts
The Bottom Line

Spring EQ may be a relatively new bank founded in 2016, but it has already earned a positive reputation from customers across the 38 states it serves. Spring EQ offers home equity loans, HELOCs, and interest-only HELOCs, providing borrowers with flexible loan options. Home equity loan amounts range from $5,000 to $500,000, while HELOC line amounts range from $50,000 to $500,000.

Spring EQ loans may be subject to an origination fee of $995 and an annual fee of $99 in some states. Spring EQ does not specify any rate discounts.

The Spring EQ loan application process is transparent and easy to understand. Customers can see an extensive breakdown of their loan term and rate options without needing to undergo a credit check or provide their social security number. To be eligible for a home equity loan or HELOC with Spring EQ, you’ll need a credit score of 620 or higher, along with a debt-to-income ratio of 45% or less.

We ranked Spring EQ highly because of the lender’s price transparency, which allows potential borrowers to get pre-qualified for a loan with only basic information. This makes it easy to compare rates without needing to provide sensitive personal information or undergo a hard credit check. Additionally, the online experience is user-friendly and the application’s breakdown of rates, fees, and terms is easily digestible for customers.

Good for wide range of product offerings
KeyBank
KeyBank
Good for wide range of product offerings
KeyBank
  • Products offered:
    Home equity loan, HELOC, interest-only HELOC, rate-lock HELOC
  • Home equity loan terms:
    5 to 30 years
  • HELOC terms:
    15-year draw period, 15-year repayment period
  • Maximum LTV:
    80% for standard home equity loans and HELOCs, 90% for high-value home equity loans and HELOCs

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Interest-only and rate-lock HELOC options
  • Streamlined application process for existing KeyBank customers
  • Smooth online user experience and website
Cons
  • High closing costs if you plan to use a closing agent
  • Annual fee for HELOCs
  • Origination fee for home equity loans
The Bottom Line

Based in Cleveland, Ohio, KeyBank has been around for nearly 190 years. KeyBank offers home equity loans to customers in 15 states and HELOCs to customers in 44 states. Aside from a standard HELOC, KeyBank also offers interest-only and rate-lock options. Home equity loan amounts of $25,000 and up are available, while HELOCs have line amounts of $10,000 and up. 

KeyBank HELOCs come with an annual fee of $50, but no closing costs unless your closing is performed by a closing agent. In that case, your closing fee could be up to $400. KeyBank offers a 0.25% rate discount for clients who have eligible checking and savings accounts with KeyBank. Additionally, home equity loans have an origination fee of $295.

The KeyBank application allows you to apply for multiple products at one time. If you’re not sure whether KeyBank loans are available in your area, the application will tell you once you input your zip code. If you’re an existing KeyBank customer, you’ll have the option to skim through the application and import your personal information from your account. 

We like KeyBank because of its extensive product offerings. The streamlined application process for existing customers is helpful, but both existing and new customers will likely be pleased with the online user experience and availability of customer service that KeyBank offers.

Good for rate match guarantee
Third Federal Savings & Loan
Third Federal Savings & Loan
Good for rate match guarantee
Third Federal Savings & Loan
  • Products offered:
    Home equity loan, 5/1 home equity loan, HELOC
  • Home equity loan terms:
    5 year, 10 year, 5/1 adjustable rate (6-30 years)
  • HELOC terms:
    10-year draw period, 20-year repayment period
  • Maximum LTV:
    80%

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • No application, closing, or origination fees
  • Lowest rate guarantee
  • Smooth online application process
Cons
  • Limited geographic availability for home equity loans
  • $65 annual fee on HELOCs (waived the first year)
The Bottom Line

Opened in the midst of the Great Depression in 1938, Third Federal Savings & Loan sought to help unemployed and underemployed Ohio residents achieve home ownership. Since its opening, Third Federal has expanded significantly, now offering HELOCs in 26 states and home equity loans in eight states. Home equity loans and HELOCs are available in amounts from $10,000 to $200,000.

Home equity loans and HELOCs with Third Federal come with an annual fee of $65 (waived the first year) but no application fees, closing fees, or origination fees. If you set up autopay from an existing Third Federal account before closing, you’ll be eligible for a 0.25% rate discount. Additionally, Third Federal offers a lowest rate guarantee on its HELOCs and home equity loans, meaning Third Federal will offer you the lowest interest rate relative to other similar lenders or pay you $1,000.

You can apply for a home equity loan or HELOC on the Third Federal website. Both applications are included on the same page along with multiple rate and term options, allowing the customer to assess what will be best for them. Third Federal also provides helpful tools and tips on its application page to answer questions that borrowers may have. You won’t have to register an account to apply, but you’ll still be able to save your application and return to it later.

We like Third Federal’s application process and the lender’s price transparency. If you’re not sure what kind of home equity product you’re looking for, the website provides useful information to help you decide. Third Federal also offers a unique product not commonly found among other lenders: a 5/1 adjustable-rate home equity loan, where the rate is fixed for the first five year and then adjusts annually, much like how an adjustable-rate mortgage works. However, you won’t be eligible for this product unless you live in one of the eight states in which Third Federal offers home equity loans.

Good for HELOCs with longer repayment periods
PNC Bank
PNC Bank
Good for HELOCs with longer repayment periods
PNC Bank
  • Products offered:
    HELOC, rate-lock HELOC
  • Home equity loan terms:
    N/A
  • HELOC terms:
    10-year draw period, 30-year repayment period
  • Maximum LTV:
    89.90%

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Variable and fixed-rate HELOC options
  • 30-year repayment period on HELOC
  • Option to choose a custom loan term
  • User-friendly website
Cons
  • Don’t offer home equity loans
  • $50 annual fee on HELOCs
The Bottom Line

PNC Bank is the sixth-largest bank in the U.S. by consolidated assets, according to the Federal Reserve. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA, PNC serves 44 states. Though the bank does not offer home equity loans, it offers both variable-rate HELOCs and fixed-rate HELOCs. You can even switch between variable and fixed-rate interest over the course of your draw period. Another benefit of a PNC HELOC is that the repayment period is 30 years, unlike most other lenders who have 20 year terms. A longer payment period generally means lower monthly payments (but more interest paid in the long run), which can be beneficial to those who want to borrow large amounts. Line amounts from $10,000 to $1,000,000 are available on a PNC HELOC.

PNC offers a 0.25% interest rate discount to borrowers who set up and maintain automatic payments from a qualifying PNC checking account. There is a $50 annual fee for HELOC borrowers, except in Texas. 

The PNC website is user-friendly, giving customers the ability to estimate their home equity with an easy-to-use calculator. It also provides several useful graphics and videos to help borrowers better understand how their HELOCs work. PNC allows potential borrowers to see their rate and term options early on in the application process, indicating good price transparency. PNC also gives customers the option to choose a custom loan term. 

We like PNC Bank because its application is straightforward and the bank is very transparent about its rates, fees, and terms without requiring a credit check. Though PNC doesn’t don’t offer home equity loans at all, its wide nationwide availability for HELOCs is noteworthy.

Good for rate discounts
Regions Bank
Regions Bank
Good for rate discounts
Regions Bank
  • Products offered:
    Home equity loan, HELOC, rate-lock HELOC
  • Home equity loan terms:
    7,10, 15, or 20 years
  • HELOC terms:
    10-year draw period, 20-year repayment period
  • Maximum LTV:
    80%

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • No closing costs for home equity loans
  • Options to apply online, in-person, or over the phone
  • Accessible customer service options
Cons
  • Closing costs for HELOCs
  • Limited nationwide availability (15 states)
The Bottom Line

As one of the nation’s largest banking, mortgage, and wealth management service providers, Regions Bank serves customers across the South, Midwest, and Texas.  Regions offers home equity loans and HELOCs in 15 states. Its HELOC offerings also come with a rate-lock option for customers who want it. Home equity loans have loan amounts of $10,000 to $250,000 and HELOCs have line amounts ranging from $10,000 to $500,000.

For home equity loans and HELOCs, Regions offers rate discounts between 0.25% and 0.5% to those who elect to have their monthly payments automatically debited from a Regions checking account. For home equity loans, there are no closing costs. HELOCs, however, can have closing costs between $150 and $2,000, but Regions will pay these costs if the HELOC amount is $250,000 or less. 

You can apply for a Regions home equity loan or HELOC online, in-person, or over the phone. You’ll have to create an account with Regions to apply. Before you create an account, though, you can use the bank’s own rate calculator to estimate your rate and monthly payment amount. 

We like Regions because of the variety of application options it offers and the ease of applying online. Regions provides several ways to contact customer service, ensuring that customers can get questions answered quickly. Though Regions only offers its products in 15 states, it gives customers in these states the flexibility to choose between home equity loans, HELOCs, and rate-lock HELOCs.

Good for high loan-to-value ratio options
BMO Harris Bank
BMO Harris Bank
Good for high loan-to-value ratio options
BMO Harris Bank
  • Products offered:
    Home equity loan, HELOC, interest-only HELOC, rate-lock HELOC
  • Home equity loan terms:
    5 to 20 years
  • HELOC terms:
    10-year draw period, 20-year repayment period
  • Maximum LTV:
    85% for HELOCs; 89.99% for most home equity loans

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Available in 48 states
  • No hard credit check required
  • Flexible product offerings
  • Option for 100% CLTV for borrowers who meet certain qualifications
Cons
  • Limited customer service options
  • Can only receive personalized rates on the phone
  • $75 annual fee for HELOCs
The Bottom Line

As the 8th largest bank by assets in North America, BMO Harris Bank (a subsidiary of the Canadian financial services company Bank of Montreal) serves more than 12 million customers globally.  Currently, BMO Harris products and services are available in 48 states (all but New York and Texas). BMO Harris offers home equity loans and three variations of a HELOC. Loan amounts for home equity loans start at $5,000 and up while HELOC lines start at $10,000 and up. 

The normal maximum combined loan-to-value ratio allowed is 85% for HELOCs and 89.99% for home equity loans, but a 100% max CLTV option is available for low-to-moderate income borrowers or Low to Moderate Income Census Tract customers who need to make home improvements.

There is no application fee for a home equity loan or line of credit with BMO Harris. In addition, BMO Harris will pay closing costs for loans secured by an owner-occupied 1 to 4-family residence, but borrowers will have to pay a $75 annual fee for a HELOC. If you authorize auto pay from a BMO Harris checking account, you’ll be eligible to receive a 0.50% rate discount.

You can apply for a home equity loan or HELOC online or in-person, but in order to get personalized rates, you’ll have to speak with a representative on the phone. Getting personalized rates does not require a hard credit check. 

We like that BMO Harris offers both home equity loans and three types of HELOCs almost nationwide, but the lender fell short because of its low price transparency. Additionally, the online application requires your social security number and has some elements that could be confusing for customers. 

Good for 24-hour customer support
Flagstar Bank
Flagstar Bank
Good for 24-hour customer support
Flagstar Bank
  • Products offered:
    Home equity loan (in some areas), HELOC, interest-only HELOC
  • Home equity loan terms:
    10, 15, or 20 years
  • HELOC terms:
    10-year draw period, 20-year repayment period
  • Maximum LTV:
    80%

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Available in 49 states
  • Accessible customer service, including 24-hour phone support
  • Flexible product offerings
Cons
  • No online application (can only request a phone call)
  • Unable to get personalized rate quote through website
The Bottom Line

Flagstar Bank has the highest nationwide availability yet, offering home equity loans and HELOCs in 49 states (all but Texas). Though both products are offered in 49 states, the availability of home equity loans may be limited depending on your area. Available loan amounts for home equity loans and HELOCs are $10,000 to $1,000,000.

HELOCs with Flagstar require a $75 annual fee, but it is waived the first year. To avoid closing fees, you’ll have to keep your HELOC open for at least 36 months. Additionally, there is a 0.50% rate discount for borrowers who have monthly automatic payments set up from a Flagstar Bank deposit account.

Flagstar doesn’t have a full online application, only a form where you can submit your information to be contacted by a representative later.  Flagstar does not provide rates on its website, you can get a custom rate based on a soft credit check and some additional information. 

While its nationwide availability for HELOCs is strong, Flagstar’s tedious application process and lack of transparency may be frustrating for customers seeking a quick, easy process. The lender does offer several customer service options, including 24-hour loan support via phone, so this may be appealing to those who enjoy accessible communication with customer service. 

Good for fast funding among traditional banks
Truist
Truist
Good for fast funding among traditional banks
Truist
  • Products offered:
    HELOC, interest-only HELOC, rate-lock HELOC
  • Home equity loan terms:
    N/A
  • HELOC terms:
    10-year draw period, 20-year repayment period
  • Maximum LTV:
    89.90%

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • No account needed to apply for a HELOC
  • Option to forego closing costs
  • Option to autofill the application for existing Truist customers
  • Wide variety of HELOC options
Cons
  • No rate discounts
  • Credit check required to get personalized rates
  • Does not offer home equity loans
The Bottom Line

Headquartered in Charlotte, NC, Truist offers standard, interest-only, and rate-lock HELOCs to borrowers in 15, primarily Southeastern, states. HELOC line amounts range from $10,000 upward. Truist does not offer home equity loans at all.

Truist does not specify any rate discounts. When closing, the borrower will have the option to pay closing costs themselves or have Truist advance them. If you choose the latter, you won’t have to reimburse Truist-paid closing costs if you keep your account open for at least three years. There is a $50 annual fee in some states. 

You can apply for a HELOC with Truist on Truist’s website. Before you get started applying, the Truist website tells you which documents you’ll need. You won’t be required to sign up for an account, but if you already have an account set up with Truist, you’ll be able to quickly auto-fill your application. Truist advertises that the turnaround time between application to closing averages 30 to 35 days, which is one of the fastest times among its bank peers (not including newer, non-traditional start-up companies like Figure).

Unfortunately, Truist ranked low on price transparency, meaning it may be difficult to get personalized rates. The rate advertised on the website is based on one particular scenario. You’ll have to submit an application and undergo a credit check to get personalized rates. 

Good for no fees or closing costs
Discover
Discover
Good for no fees or closing costs
Discover
  • Products offered:
    Home equity loan
  • Home equity loan terms:
    10, 15, 20 or 30 years
  • HELOC terms:
    N/A
  • Maximum LTV:
    Not specified

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • No origination fees or closing costs
  • Home equity loans are available in 48 states
Cons
  • Limited customer service options available
  • Home equity loans not available in Iowa and Maryland
  • Does not offer HELOCs
The Bottom Line

A financial services company known primarily for its credit cards, Discover also offers home equity loans as part of its suite of banking products. Home equity loans are available in 48 states, but the lender does not offer home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) at all. For Discover’s home equity loans, possible loan amounts range from $35,000 to $300,000. The lender charges no origination fees, application fees, appraisal fees, and mortgage taxes. 

You can apply for a home equity loan from Discover online or over the phone. The application process takes approximately six to eight weeks in total, according to Discover’s website. 

Discover offers wide nationwide availability for its home equity loans and good price transparency, but its lack of HELOC offerings may be a limiting factor for consumers looking for additional product options. In addition, Discover offers limited customer service options — your only option to get help is by phone, with no in-person service or online options like email or live chat. 

How We Chose These Lenders

Our Methodology

NextAdvisor developed a framework to evaluate home equity lenders using a weighted average score between 1 and 5 based on the following criteria. A higher weight was given to the criteria we determined to be most important:

  1. Nationwide availability: We rated lenders on a scale of 1 to 5 based on how many states their home equity products were offered in. For lenders that only offered either home equity loans or HELOCs, we looked at how many states offered that specific product. For lenders that offered both home equity loans and HELOCs, we looked at how many states each individual product was offered in, and then took the average. A lender scored a 5 if it offered home equity products in at least 45 states which equates to 90% of U.S. states. Nationwide availability counted for 10% of the composite score. We eliminated any lender from this list that does not offer a home equity product in Pennsylvania.
  2. Online user experience: We rated lenders on a scale of 1 to 5 based on the user experience of their online application process. A 5 was given to lenders who had a clear, easy-to-navigate online application process with no technical issues or confusing instructions. A score of 1 was given to lenders who did not offer an online application at all, instead requiring customers to apply in person at a branch or over the phone. Online user experience counted for 20% of the composite score.
  3. Products offered: We rated lenders on a scale of 1 to 5 based on how many types of home equity products they offered. Product offerings were categorized into the following types: home equity loans; standard variable-rate, interest-and-principal HELOCs, interest-only HELOCs, HELOCs with fixed-rate or rate-lock options, and miscellaneous products that did not fall into any of the previous categories. Lenders who offered at least 4 types of products received a 5. Products offered counted for 20% of the composite score.
  4. Price transparency: We rated lenders on a scale of 1 to 5 based on their price transparency, which we defined as how much information you could get about rates and fees without a hard credit check. Comparing rates and fees from multiple lenders is one of the best ways to ensure you’re getting the best deal, and we gave high scores to lenders who made it easy to do so. On the other hand, lenders who kept detailed rate and fee information behind a hard credit check — which can slightly lower your credit score and should only be done when you’re serious about moving forward with a particular lender — scored lower. Lenders who provided personalized quotes for rates, fees, and important loan information with only basic information (and no hard credit check) required received a 5. Price transparency counted for 30% of the composite score.
  5. Customer service options: We rated lenders on a scale of 1 to 5 based on how many different customer service options were available to consumers needing help with their loan application or loan servicing. Examples of customer service options we counted included, but were not limited to, online live chat, phone, email, visiting an in-person branch, in-person or virtual appointments with dedicated loan officers, and social media direct messaging. Lenders who had five or more customer service options received a 5. For each option that was available only to existing customers (and thus would not be available to new customers needing help with the application process), we deducted 0.5 from the score. For any lender that had a 24/7 customer service option, regardless of what form that option took, we added 1 to the score. We did not evaluate the quality of the customer service itself, as that can be subjective and highly dependent on the specific customer service representative a borrower is working with. Customer service options counted for 20% of the composite score.

Local Georgia HELOC and Home Equity Loan Lenders 

Century Bank of Georgia

Initially known as the Century Bank of Bartow County, the Century Bank of Georgia opened its doors in June of 2000. Century Bank of Georgia offers products and services for personal and business consumers, including credit cards, deposit accounts, personal loans, and home loans. Among its home loan offerings are home equity loans and HELOCs. Applications can be submitted online or in person at a branch. 

Signature Bank of Georgia

The Signature Bank of Georgia is another community bank in the Peach State. In operation for more than 17 years, its offerings include deposit accounts, insurance, investment services, business loans, and personal loans. Signature Bank of Georgia offers a HELOC that requires a minimum $25,000 draw upon account opening. Applications can be submitted online or in person at one of its branch locations. 

How to Find the Best HELOC or Home Equity Loan Rate in Georgia 

Georgia has many lenders to choose from, including online lenders, local lenders, and nationwide lenders. Finding the best HELOC or home equity loan rate with so many choices can feel overwhelming. However, a good starting point is to get written estimates from multiple lenders. 

Here are a few other items you should consider when comparing lenders. 

Rate and Fee Transparency

When shopping lenders, pay close attention to the total cost of the loan, including the interest rate and fees. There are times when paying a higher interest rate may save you money in the long run because of lower fees. A calculator can help you make this determination. 

This is especially important for lenders who do not make their fees or rates publicly available to everyone online. Some lenders may require a hard credit pull or a loan application to be submitted. Ask if there are options for either a higher or lower interest rate. Different interest rates often come with different upfront costs or fees, which could end up being more beneficial for you over the life of the loan. 

Products Offered 

Not all lenders will offer both a HELOC and a home equity loan, and they are different enough from one another that it’s important that you know which one is a better fit. A home equity loan typically comes with a fixed interest rate, and you get the money all at once. A HELOC, on the other hand, often has a variable interest rate, but you can continuously draw funds for a certain timeframe, up to a limit. 

If you prefer the peace of mind of having a fixed interest rate and know exactly how much you’ll need, a home equity loan could be a good option. If you see yourself needing more funds in the future and want to avoid having to constantly apply for more loans, then a HELOC could offer the flexibility you need. 

Shop for Multiple Lenders 

Compare rates from multiple lenders, because companies can change their rates at a moment’s notice, whether for a temporary promotional offer, or on a more permanent basis. So a lender that may not have previously been competitive on rates or fees, could quickly become the best option for you. 

Lenders can also provide varying terms for their products. A lender that offers the lower rates and fees may not be the best choice for you depending on how you intend on using the loan. You’ll want to look into things like whether there are any annual fees, minimum draw amounts, prepayment penalties, account inactivity fees, flexibility to lock a portion of a HELOC balance at a fixed interest rate, and more. 

Only Borrow What You Need 

Before you take out any loan, it’s important to go through your budget to make sure you can comfortably afford the monthly payments. Lenders will not approve a loan for you if they determine you are unable to make the monthly payments, but they may not factor in all of your actual monthly expenses. 

For instance, lenders may not consider expenses that do not appear on your credit report. This can include utility bills, monthly auto or home insurance premiums, child care expenses, groceries, gas, and more. While the lender may not consider these, they can have a very big impact on your ability to afford the loan payments. 

Improve Your Credit Score

To get the best rates, you’ll need to have a high credit score. A high credit score shows that you are less likely to miss a payment, and most lenders use a risk-based pricing model where the lowest rates go to those with a high credit score. 

Your credit score is based on your payment history, the amount of debt you have, how long you’ve had credit, what types of credit you have, and your recent credit activity such as newly opened accounts or applications for loans. 

If you’re looking to give your score a quick boost before submitting an application for credit, here are a few tips:

  • Do not use more than 30% of your credit card’s maximum limit;
  • Only use 1-2 of your credit cards, leaving the rest at a $0 balance;
  • Do not apply for other loans or credit cards;
  • Continue making your payments on time;

How to Get a HELOC or Home Equity Loan in Georgia 

Some lenders may have some variations, but you should expect to go through most of these steps regardless of which lender you use to get a HELOC or home equity loan:

  • Choose a lender that offers the product you need.
  • Submit an application.
  • Sign preliminary disclosures.
  • Provide any requested documentation to the lender. 
  • Order and schedule any required inspections.
  • Provide any additional documentation requested by the lender’s underwriting department for full approval.
  • Upon receiving a full approval and clear to close from the lender, schedule a notary to sign final loan documents.
  • Once final loan documents are signed and reviewed by the lender, funds are disbursed and often available for use within 24 hours.