HELOC stands for Home Equity Line of Credit. is a loan in which the lender agrees to lend a maximum amount within an agreed period (called a term), where the collateral is the borrower’s equity in his/her house (akin to a second mortgage). Because a home often is a consumer’s most valuable asset, many homeowners use home equity credit lines only for major items, such as education, home improvements, or medical bills, and choose not to use them for day-to-day expenses. HELOC abuse is often cited as one cause of the subprime mortgage crisis.
During the draw period you will usually have the option of making interest-only payments. Later, at the end of the draw period (usually 5-10 years), your monthly payment will increase to include principal repayments.
The size of the home equity line of credit you may qualify for is typically based on the appraised value of your property, the amount you owe on your property (total of 1st mortgage, 2nd mortgage, home equity loan), and the loan to value (LTV) the lender is willing to extend to you.