What is a second mortgage and how does it work?

A second mortgage is a loan or line of credit obtained using the home as collateral. It is a separate loan from the main mortgage loan, which is the one you used to buy the property in the first place.

A second mortgage usually allows you to use your home equity, which is the difference between the market value of your home and the amount you owe on your home loan. A home equity loan is an installment loan that typically provides you with a lump sum payment in exchange for regular monthly payments over a set period of time.

With a HELOC, or home equity line of credit, you can access a revolving credit account, which works similar to a credit card. You can borrow money, pay it back, and borrow it again. You only have to pay the interest on the amount you have borrowed.

HELOCs typically have an availability period, during which you can withdraw money from the line of credit and pay only the interest. Then, there is an amortization period, during which the balance is usually paid in periodic installments.

You can use a second mortgage for just about anything, and interest rates are often lower than an unsecured personal loan or credit card, since the home guarantees the debt.

Keep in mind that lenders may limit the percentage of your net worth that you can borrow on. The higher the percentage of your net worth that you borrow on, the greater the chance your mortgage will run out of funds if home prices drop in your area.

Is a second mortgage a refinance loan?

A second mortgage and a refinance loan are two different types of loans.

With a second mortgage, you add an additional lien to your home. Instead, a refinance loan pays off the primary mortgage loan and replaces it with a new one.

Also, a second mortgage is subordinated to your main mortgage loan. That means if you refinance your primary home loan, that loan takes precedence over a home equity loan or HELOC in case you default and the lender forecloses on the property.

The second mortgage lender can be paid, but only if enough funds remain after paying off the primary mortgage.

What can I use a second mortgage for?

You can use a second mortgage for just about anything, including home improvements, debt consolidation, major purchases, and more.

Whatever you want to use the loan proceeds for, you’ll need to carefully consider the costs and other potential drawbacks to determine if it’s the right decision.

Advantages and disadvantages of a second mortgage

There are several reasons to consider taking out a second home mortgage, but there are also some potential pitfalls to watch out for.


  • Low interest rates: Because the loan or line of credit is secured by your home, you can get lower interest rates than you would with unsecured personal loans or credit cards. But be sure to read the fine print. Some HELOCs, for example, offer a low initial interest rate that is subject to adjustment later.
  • Flexible Uses: There are generally no limitations on how you use the loan proceeds, giving you plenty of flexibility to reach your financial goals.
  • Ability to get a large loan: The amount you can borrow depends on your finances, the lender, and the amount of equity you have. But if you have a lot of equity in your home, you may be able to borrow more than you could with other financing options.


  • Pay more: Although interest rates may be low, the total cost of the loan may be higher than you think. HELOCs, for example, can have closing costs and you may have to pay an annual fee. In general, having to make two mortgage payments can be challenging in and of itself, depending on your circumstances.
  • Adjustable Interest Rates: Some second mortgages, such as HELOCs, may have adjustable interest rates instead of fixed rates, an important thing to keep in mind when considering those options.
  • You could lose your home if you default on your loan: Since you’re using your home as collateral for your second mortgage, you could put your home at risk if you can’t make the payments. Think carefully about adding a second mortgage payment to your budget and how that payment might affect your ability to meet your obligations.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

WC Captcha four + two =