Best HELOC and Home Equity Loan Lenders in New York

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From Long Island, to New York City, to Buffalo, New York homeowners have seen a large increase in home prices and home equity. 

Homeowners with mortgages saw an average equity gain of $54,000 year-over-year, according to CoreLogic’s Homeowner Equity Insights report for Q1 of 2022. New York home prices, specifically, saw a 13.5% year-over-year increase — with the median New York sales price reaching $415,000 — according to the New York State Association of REALTORS second quarter report. 

Rising home prices means more home equity, and access to borrowed funds using a home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC). The more equity you have, the more cash you can get, which can then be used for things like home improvements, renovations, upgrades, paying off high-interest debt, and much more

But the process of finding the best home equity loan and HELOC lender can be difficult as there are many variations of rates, fees, and terms, asn well as, a large variety of lenders to choose from. 

To make the process easier for you, we’ve done the research and selected our top picks for the best home equity loan and HELOC lenders in “The Empire State.” 

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 HELOC and Home Equity Loan Lenders Available in New York State 

Good for wide nationwide availability
U.S. Bank
U.S. Bank
Editor’s Score: (4.4/5)
Good for wide nationwide availability
U.S. Bank
Editor’s Score: (4.4/5)
  • 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 price transparency
TD Bank
TD Bank
Editor’s Score: (4.1/5)
Good for price transparency
TD Bank
Editor’s Score: (4.1/5)
  • Products offered:
    Home equity loan, HELOC, interest-only HELOC, rate-lock HELOC
  • Home equity loan terms:
    5, 10, 15, 20, or 30 years
  • HELOC loan terms:
    10-year draw period, 20-year repayment period
  • Maximum LTV:
    89.99%

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Options to apply in person, on the phone, or online
  • 0.25% rate discount if you set up auto-pay from a TD account
  • No credit check required to see personalized rates and fees
  • Many products and options available
Cons
  • Only offered in 15 states
  • $99 origination fee for both home equity loans and HELOCs
The Bottom Line

Primarily operating on the East Coast,  TD Bank is one of the 10 largest banks in the U.S. and serves more than 9.7 million customers. TD Bank offers Home Equity Loans and HELOCs in 15 states, with the option for interest-only and rate-lock HELOCs. Loan amounts for home equity loans start at $10,000, while line amounts for HELOCs start at $25,000.

For a home equity loan or HELOC with TD Bank, closing costs only exist on loan amounts greater than $500,000, but you will be required to pay a $99 origination fee at closing regardless of your loan amount. There is also an annual fee of $50 on HELOCs unless your loan amount is less than $50,000. You’ll be charged an early termination fee of 2% of the outstanding balance if your HELOC is closed within 24 months from opening. Additionally, you’ll receive a 0.25% rate discount if you set up auto-pay from a TD personal checking or savings account. 

If you decide to apply for a TD Bank home equity loan or HELOC, you can do so online, by phone, or by visiting a TD Bank in person. The online application includes a calculator that will tell you the maximum amount you can borrow based on the information you input, but you can also see a full breakdown of rates, fees, and monthly payments by entering some basic information online. No credit check is required for this service. 

Though its nationwide availability is limited, we like TD Bank because it has a wide variety of product offerings — including interest-only and rate-lock options on its HELOCs. The bank’s good online user experience and price transparency make it easy to work with this lender,  and the customer service is very accessible.

Good for wide range of customer service options
Connexus Credit Union
Connexus Credit Union
Editor’s Score: (4/5)
Good for wide range of customer service options
Connexus Credit Union
Editor’s Score: (4/5)
  • 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 wide range of product offerings
KeyBank
KeyBank
Editor’s Score: (4/5)
Good for wide range of product offerings
KeyBank
Editor’s Score: (4/5)
  • 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
Editor’s Score: (3.9/5)
Good for rate match guarantee
Third Federal Savings & Loan
Editor’s Score: (3.9/5)
  • 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
Editor’s Score: (3.8/5)
Good for HELOCs with longer repayment periods
PNC Bank
Editor’s Score: (3.8/5)
  • 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 existing Citizens Bank customers
Citizens Bank
Citizens Bank
Editor’s Score: (3.4/5)
Good for existing Citizens Bank customers
Citizens Bank
Editor’s Score: (3.4/5)
  • Products offered:
    HELOC, interest-only HELOC
  • Home equity loan terms:
    N/A
  • HELOC terms:
    10-year draw period, 15-year repayment period
  • Maximum LTV:
    Not specified

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Rate discount options for existing and new customers
  • No application or closing fees
  • Good online user experience
Cons
  • Does not offer home equity loans
  • Limited nationwide availability
The Bottom Line

Based in Providence, Rhode Island, Citizens Bank is a regional bank that serves 19 states across New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest regions. Citizens offers standard and interest-only HELOCs to borrowers in 19 states. However, the bank does not offer home equity loans at all. HELOC line amounts start from $17,500. 

Opening a HELOC with Citizens Bank won’t require any application fees or closing costs, but you will have to pay a $50 annual fee every year except the first during the draw period. According to Citizen Bank’s website, obtaining the best rate requires having a Citizens consumer checking account with automatic monthly payments set up. In states where Citizens does not offer checking accounts, customers can get the same discount with automatic payments set up from any checking account. 

You can apply for a HELOC on the Citizens Bank website, but you also have the option to speak to a loan specialist on the phone. You’ll need to sign up with a phone number and email to access the application. 

Citizens has good price transparency and responsive customer service, but its products are limited to 19 states. In addition, though Citizens offers multiple HELOC options, it does not offer home equity loans at all.

Good for 24-hour customer support
Flagstar Bank
Flagstar Bank
Editor’s Score: (3.1/5)
Good for 24-hour customer support
Flagstar Bank
Editor’s Score: (3.1/5)
  • 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 no fees or closing costs
Discover
Discover
Editor’s Score: (2.9/5)
Good for no fees or closing costs
Discover
Editor’s Score: (2.9/5)
  • 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. 

Good for borrowers outside the continental U.S.
PenFed Credit Union
PenFed Credit Union
Editor’s Score: (2.4/5)
Good for borrowers outside the continental U.S.
PenFed Credit Union
Editor’s Score: (2.4/5)
  • 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:
    90%

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Offered in all 50 states as well as Guam, Puerto Rico, and Okinawa
  • Flexible HELOC product offerings
  • Credit union membership easy to obtain
Cons
  • No online application
  • Poor price transparency
  • Does not offer home equity loans
The Bottom Line

Established in 1935, Pentagon Federal Credit Union (widely known as PenFed) offers HELOCs in all 50 states as well as Guam, Puerto Rico, and Okinawa. PenFed is a credit union so its products are only available to members, but you can easily become a member by opening a PenFed savings account and funding it with at least $5. With PenFed, you’ll have the flexibility to choose between a standard, interest only, or rate lock HELOC with line amounts ranging from $25,000 to $1,000,000. But, the lender does not offer home equity loans at all.  

HELOCs with PenFed will have an annual fee of $99 unless you have paid $99 in interest during the preceding year. PenFed will pay most closing costs, but for credit lines greater than $500,000, the borrower will likely be responsible for closing costs. No rate discounts are specified. 

If you’re interested in applying for a HELOC with PenFed, you’ll have to request a callback over the phone or online. This feature may be a major drawback for customers who prefer online services and applications.

While PenFed may be a good option for borrowers in U.S. territories who don’t have many other alternatives when it comes to home equity lenders, the lender’s lack of an online application and lack of price transparency earned it a low score in our ratings. If you prefer communication via telephone, however, PenFed may be a good option for you.

Local New York State HELOC and Home Equity Loan Lenders 

First New York Federal Credit Union

First New York Federal Credit Union was initially chartered as a credit union in 1937. It was previously known as Schenectady Teachers Federal Credit Union to serve the needs of the teachers in the school district. As a credit union, it operates as a not-for-profit organization, which means it is more able to pass on savings to its members in the form of lower rates and fees. 

If you qualify for membership, you’ll be able to enjoy the credit union’s offering of products and services, including deposit accounts, credit cards, and loans. For its home equity products, First New York Federal Credit Union offers only a HELOC product. However, the HELOC does provide the ability to have a fixed interest rate, similar to a home equity loan. If you are interested in one of their home equity products, you can apply online or visit a local branch. 

Webster Bank

Although well-known as a commercial bank, Webster Bank also offers a number of products and services for personal consumers as well, including deposit accounts, credit cards, loans, mortgages, and home equity products. Webster Bank has a strong presence on the east coast, including a number of locations in New York. 

As part of its home loan products, Webster Bank offers home equity loans and HELOCs. Both come with no closing costs, with up to $750,000 in funding available if you meet certain criteria. Existing customers who have a relationship with Webster Bank may also be eligible for additional discounts. Applications can be submitted online, but you can also visit a branch or call if you’re looking to have any questions answered. 

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

You’ll have lots of lenders to choose from in New York, but to find the best home equity or HELOC lender for you, it’s helpful to first figure out how you intend on using the loan to see what is most important to you. This could involve prioritizing a lower rate, or finding a product that offers the most favorable terms, such as whether there are any annual fees, prepayment penalties, or minimum draw amounts.

Here are a few other items to consider. 

Products Types Offered 

Home equity products come in two main forms: a home equity loan, and a home equity line of credit (HELOC). A home equity loan usually comes with a fixed interest rate, and you’ll receive all of the proceeds at once. A HELOC on the other hand, typically has a variable interest rate, but offers you the flexibility to draw the funds as you need for a certain period of time. 

Not all lenders offer both of these products, so make sure your lender offers the right product for you. 

Price Transparency

Lenders that provide all of their rate and fee information online without requiring any type of loan application or hard credit pull make the comparison process easier. If you speak with a lender that does not provide this information online, be prepared to ask about how their pricing would differ in varying loan scenarios, or if they have different options for interest rates. In comparing lenders, we recommend using a loan calculator to help you figure out the total cost of the loan in the long run. 

Shop Around With Multiple Lenders 

Shopping with different lenders can help with not only getting a good rate, but also with finding a lender with the most favorable loan terms. This can include things like how long you can draw the funds, how long you have to repay the loan, whether there is any prepayment penalty, whether you have the ability to lock a certain portion of a HELOC at a fixed-rate, and much more. 

Consider how you plan on using the loan before committing to a lender. A lender with the lowest rate may not be the best fit if the terms of the loan do not align with how you intend on using the funds.  

Work on Improving Your Credit Score

If you have a high credit score, lenders will see you as someone who is statistically more likely to pay ontime and in full, and will therefore offer you a more competitive interest rate. It’s similar to the concept of car insurance, where drivers with a history of few accidents generally pay a lower premium than drivers with more accidents.  

There are a number of items that determine your credit score, including: your payment history, balances owed, the length of your credit history, mix of credit, and recent applications for credit. Here are a few tips to help ensure you have the highest credit score when applying for a loan:

  • Limit the usage of your credit cards so the balance is less than 30% of the credit limit
  • Limit the usage of your credit cards to just one or two accounts
  • Be sure not to miss any payments, as a recent late payment will have a significantly greater impact on your credit score

Borrow What You Need 

Before taking out a loan, make sure you are comfortable with how the payments fit into your budget. It’s not a good idea to take a lender’s loan approval as a sign that you can afford the payments, because they may not factor in all of your monthly expenses, such as those that do not appear on your credit report. This can include things like utility bills, childcare expenses, auto or umbrella insurance, cable bills, phone bills, and savings and retirement.

How to Get a HELOC or Home Equity Loan in New York  

New York residents have plenty of lenders to choose from. Although each may have small variations in the steps needed to get a home equity loan or HELOC, the overall process is fairly similar regardless of which lender you pick:

  • Choose a lender with the product you need
  • Submit an application 
  • Sign preliminary disclosures
  • Provide documentation to the lender 
  • Schedule any required inspections
  • For full approval, provide any additional documentation requested by the lender’s underwriting department
  • 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 typically available for use within 24 hours

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 New York. 
  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.