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Second Mortgage vs. Home Equity Loan

Oct 08, 2023 By Susan Kelly

Are you considering a second mortgage or home equity loan on your property? This can be an intimidating decision as many people need to learn the difference between these two loans.

In this blog post, we will explain the key differences between a second mortgage and a home equity loan so that you can make an informed choice about which is right for you. We will cover topics such as how each loan works, what terms are available, and the benefits of taking out either type of loan when purchasing or refinancing your home.

At the end of this blog post, you should have the tools to help you decide if taking out a second mortgage or home equity loan is in your best interest.

What is a Second Mortgage

A loan on a property with an existing mortgage is known as a second mortgage. Because it has lower priority than the original mortgage, it is known as a "second" mortgage. The first mortgage lender will be compensated before the second mortgage lender if the borrower falls behind on their payments and the property is sold.

Second mortgages are typically used when homeowners need additional funds and want to leverage the equity in their property. They can be fixed-rate or adjustable-rate loans and are secured by the property, just like the first mortgage.

How Does Second Mortgage Work

A second mortgage is a loan you can take out using your home as collateral and your primary mortgage. It allows you to borrow against the equity you have built in your property. The second mortgage is subordinate to the first mortgage, meaning that in the event of default or foreclosure, the first mortgage takes priority in terms of repayment.

Second mortgages can be obtained as a lump sum or a line of credit. The interest rates are generally higher than those of the first mortgage since the risk for the lender is higher. However, the interest on a second mortgage may be tax deductible, depending on your circumstances. Considering the terms, interest rates, and repayment options before taking out a second mortgage is important.

What is a Home Equity Loan

Homeowners can borrow money via a home equity loan, which lets them use the equity they've built in their home as collateral. Equity is the difference between the home's current market value and the remaining mortgage balance.

A home equity loan provides the borrower with a lump payment that is normally paid back over a set period of time at a set interest rate. The loan is secured by the property, so if the borrower defaults, the lender may foreclose on the house. Major improvements, consolidating debt, and paying for higher education are all frequent uses for home equity loans.

How Does Home Equity Loan Work

  1. Equity Assessment: The lender assesses the home's current market value and subtracts the outstanding mortgage balance to determine the available equity.
  2. Loan Approval: The loan is approved if the homeowner meets the lender's criteria, such as creditworthiness and income stability.
  3. Lump Sum Disbursement: The borrower receives a lump sum based on the approved loan amount.
  4. Fixed Repayment: The borrower repays the loan over a fixed term, usually with a fixed interest rate. Monthly payments include both principal and interest.
  5. Home as Collateral: The loan is secured by the property, so if the borrower defaults, the lender can foreclose and sell the home to recover the debt.

The Difference Between a Home Equity Loan and a Second Mortgage

A home equity loan and a second mortgage are both types of loans that allow homeowners to access the equity in their property, but they have some key differences.

A home equity loan, also known as a "second mortgage," involves borrowing a lump sum of money against the value of your home. The loan is typically repaid over a fixed term with a fixed interest rate.

The homeowner receives the loan amount upfront and makes regular payments to pay off the loan. The interest paid on a home equity loan may be tax deductible, depending on local tax laws.

On the other hand, a second mortgage refers to taking out an additional loan on top of your primary mortgage. This can be a home equity line of credit (HELOC) or a second mortgage loan. With a HELOC, the homeowner can access a line of credit and borrow as needed within a specified limit over a set period.

The interest rates may be variable. A second mortgage loan, however, provides a lump sum similar to a home equity loan.

Factors to Consider When Deciding Between the Two

When deciding between a home equity loan and a second mortgage, several factors should be considered:

  1. Purpose: Determine the specific reason for borrowing. A home equity loan may be more suitable if you need a lump sum for a one-time expense. If you require ongoing access to funds, a second mortgage with a line of credit, such as a HELOC, might be better.
  2. Interest rates: Compare the interest rates offered for each option. Home equity loans typically have fixed rates, while second mortgages like HELOCs often have variable rates.
  3. Repayment terms: Evaluate the repayment terms, including the duration and monthly payments. Determine which option aligns with your financial goals and budget.
  4. Tax implications: Consider the potential tax deductibility of the interest paid on each loan. Consult with a tax professional to understand the specific implications in your region.
  5. Fees and closing costs: Consider any fees associated with each option, such as origination fees, appraisal fees, or closing costs.
  6. Risk tolerance: Assess your comfort level with borrowing against your home's equity and the potential risks involved, such as fluctuating interest rates.


Is home equity the same as a second mortgage?

No. A home equity loan is a type of loan that uses the equity in your home as collateral, while a second mortgage is an additional loan taken out against the value of your home. Home equity loans typically have lower interest rates and longer repayment terms than second mortgages.

What is the downside to a second mortgage?

The downside to a second mortgage is that it can be expensive. Since you are taking out another loan on your home, you will have to pay additional closing costs and fees associated with the loan.

What is the purpose of a second mortgage?

Incidentally, the purpose of a second mortgage is to use the equity in your home as collateral for another loan. Doing this allows you to access additional funds to finance large purchases, investments, or renovations. However, it is important to remember that taking out a second mortgage is still a loan and should be taken seriously as it will come with obligations such as making monthly payments-borrowing and Co-signing.


In conclusion, deciding between a second mortgage and a home equity loan takes work. Before deciding, it's important to consider your financial situation and any risks associated with each option. Additionally, you should always do your due diligence before signing on the dotted line and ensure you understand exactly what you are committing to.

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