Since the mid-1980s, homeowners have used home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) to access cash at relatively low interest rates with certain tax advantages. HELOCs are credit lines extended by a financial institution to a homeowner based upon the equity in a home. They have become a source of credit for many homeowners who have experienced growth in their home’s equity in recent years. The credit line debt is secured by using the home as collateral.
Based on data collected in the 2001 Residential Finance Survey, this brief profiles the 7.7 million single-family homeowners who had HELOCs in 2001 and compares them with the 3.4 million who had HELOCs in 1991. We analyzed characteristics of homeowners with HELOCs and compared them with the 29.8 million single-family homeowners who had other types of mortgages. (These data apply to single-unit property that these owners both owned and inhabited.) In addition, the 1.6 million owners whose HELOCs were their only mortgage are compared with the 6.2 million whose HELOCs were a junior mortgage (i.e., they also had at least one other mortgage on their property).