These are the five main ways you can get cash out of a house you own free and clear.

1. Cash-out refinance

cash-out refinance is a new mortgage. You take out a loan larger than the amount you still owe (which is zero in the case of a home you own free and clear), and you receive the balance in cash at closing. This option is good if you want to take out a significant amount of money.

The total you’re allowed to receive in cash may depend on your lender. As a general rule of thumb, you can’t receive more than 80% of your home’s value in cash. You’ll also have to pay closing costs. 

2. Home equity line of credit (HELOC)

With a HELOC, you receive a revolving line of credit instead of a lump-sum loan amount, where you can borrow money over time.

The interest rate is variable, so monthly payments on the principal amount borrowed may fluctuate as well. If you want to borrow money as you go and you don’t mind a variable interest rate, a HELOC can be a good option. However, your “home is used as collateral so if your financial situation deteriorates, it could put your home on the line,” Shirshikov notes.

3. Home equity loan

home equity loan allows homeowners to borrow against the value of their home. Most lenders will let you borrow up to 80% of what the home is worth. If the cash you need is less than the 80% of the home’s value, the home equity loan is the “less expensive option than the cash-out refinance, since there are less, if any, closing costs,” says Shirshikov. 

Home equity loans offer fixed interest rates with consistent monthly payments.

4. Reverse mortgage

reverse mortgage is for homeowners age 62 or older who can borrow a lump sum that is paid back in monthly installments, or as a line of credit against the equity in the home.

In a reverse mortgage, when the home is eventually sold, proceeds from the sale will go to the lender to pay off the balance of your reverse mortgage. Any money remaining will go to you or to your estate. If your heirs want to keep the property, then they can pay off the reverse mortgage themselves.

5. Shared equity investment

A relatively new option is a shared equity investment.

“A lender will pay you a lump sum of cash for a share of equity in the house,” explains Omer Reiner, president of real estate investment company FL Cash Home Buyers, LLC. “You can keep controlling interest in the house, but you may give up growth in equity of the home in the future” 

The key benefit of home equity sharing is that it’s not a debt. There aren’t any payments or interest, and you can use the money however you want. However, it can also cost you big if your home appreciates a lot over the course of your agreement’s term. 

“Let’s say a homeowner gives up 25% equity and the house grows $100,000 in value,” says Reiner. “The owner keeps only $75,000.”

Most equity sharing companies also require you to pay them back in one single payment at the end of your term.

The bottom line

Before tapping into your home equity, consider all the options carefully and fully understand the terms and conditions for each.

“Homeowners should never take out a mortgage unless they know what the financial stipulations are,” says Johnson. “They should consult a lawyer, and potentially an accountant if they have additional questions, especially legally binding ones.”

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