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The Willis Report

Banks Offering Credit and Loans, But is it Worth it?

Here we go again. Banks are starting to offer home equity loans and lines of credit – some of the very products that got so many Americans into financial trouble during the housing bust.

These products allow you to tap any equity you've built up in your mortgage –that is if you have any in this lousy market - as a loan or a line of credit. Associated Bank in the Midwest has tripled its home equity business over last year, while underwriting is up at Atlanta-based SunTrust and Citizens Bank in the Northeast.

No doubt you'll start seeing ads plastered all over your newspaper for these products as bankers tout the attractions of low interest rates and well, a cheap loan.

The problem is the interest rates on these products aren't all that cheap. According to, the average rate on home equity loans is 7.15 % and 5.22 % for lines of credit.

At the end of the day, I want you to have access to every financial product you will ever need. But, you need to understand how they work and make sure that you can afford to pay these loans back.

Because if you fail to pay your home equity they take your house—it’s not like a credit card.
These loans are appropriate for people who are cash-short and facing short-term, unexpected expenses like a big medical bill. But if you simply want to renovate your bathroom - hey, take a few months and save up the dough.

You'll be much more proud of the upgrade and you'll have the satisfaction of knowing that when it's done - you won't face a bill the next day.

Be sure to catch the Willis Report on the FOX Business Network every weekday from 5-6pm ET.

Gerri Willis joined Fox Business Network (FBN) in March of 2010. Willis is an anchor and personal finance reporter for the network.

Bank Rates

Loan Type Graph Rate +/- Last Week
30 Y Fixed Graph 3.88% up 3.83%  
15 Y Fixed Graph 2.84% dw 2.96%  
30 Y Fixed Jumbo Graph 4.37% up 4.26%  
5/1 ARM Graph 3.24% up 3.09%  
5/1 Jumbo ARM Graph 3.61% dw 3.65%  
Loan Type Graph Rate +/- Last Week
$30K HELOC Graph 4.44% dw 4.46%  
$50K HELOC Graph 4.04% up 3.96%  
$30K Loan Graph 4.55% dw 4.57%  
$50K Loan Graph 4.17% -- 4.17%  
$75K Loan Graph 4.17% -- 4.17%  
Loan Type Graph Rate +/- Last Week
36 M New Graph 3.08% dw 3.10%  
36 M Used Graph 3.30% dw 3.32%  
48 M New Graph 3.16% dw 3.18%  
48 M Used Graph 2.85% dw 2.88%  
60 M New Graph 3.10% dw 3.12%  
Loan Type Graph Yield +/- Last Week
6 month Graph 0.36% -- 0.36%  
1 yr Graph 0.61% -- 0.61%  
5 yr Graph 1.46% -- 1.46%