When you pay off your mortgage, you build equity in your home. When you’ve built enough over time, you can tap into that equity through a home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC). This can be a great way to pay for renovations, student loans, or something else entirely—without draining your savings account.
But how long does it take to get a home equity loan? What if you need money in a pinch? What does the approval process entail and how long will it take?
By taking the time to understand the steps in the home equity loan process, you can mitigate the risk of delays and speed up the process so you can access your funds sooner.
Let’s go over the average time it takes to get a home equity loan, as well as some insights into what may slow down the process.
How long does it take to get a home equity loan?
There’s no single answer to the question of, “How long does it take to get a home equity loan?” You’ll hear something different from every lender you ask. The truth is that home equity loan approval can take anywhere from a week—or two up to months in some cases.
Most lenders will tell you that the average window of time it takes to get a home equity loan is between two and six weeks, with most closings happening within a month.
It’s crucial to keep in mind that these timelines are flexible because they rely on many outside factors, like your home valuation and the underwriting process.
Your timeline will be unique from anyone else’s, so talk to your lender for more information about when you can expect to close.
The Home Equity Loan Process
It’s always best to consult directly with your lender for specific details about their application process. The outline below goes over some of the basic steps that most lenders follow.
1. Check Qualifications
You need to meet a few requirements before you can qualify for a home equity loan. These requirements will vary from lender to lender.
Typically, the most common qualifications you’ll need to meet include:
- A minimum of 15-20% equity in the property (meaning you’ve paid of at least 15-20% of your mortgage)
- Evidence of steady employment and steady income record (through paystubs and/or tax records)
- A low debt-to-income ratio below 50% (but below 43% is ideal)
- FICO score above 620 (though some lenders may allow it to be lower; read our guide about qualifying for a loan with bad credit)
2. Choose a Lender
Once you feel confident that you meet minimum qualifications, it’s time to shop around for a lender. While it’s great to find a lender on the first try, don’t be afraid to compare your options.
Expect this portion to take a few weeks, as the response rate from lenders may vary. At Associates Home Loan, we prioritize prompt responses to all homeowner inquiries. Click here to ask about our home equity loan products.
3. Submit Application
With your lender of choice determined, you can begin your application for the loan. You’ll need to submit several documents and answer questions about your property, income, and debt.
If you’re not sure where to find specific documents or you don’t have certain paperwork anymore, talk to your lender. They can often help you figure out how to obtain certain documents or help you file with local governments to find property records.
4. Get a Property Evaluation
You may need an official property evaluation and inspection by a certified appraiser, but exact requirements on this may vary depending on your lender. Read our guide for how to prepare for home appraisal visits.
Once the property evaluation is complete, an underwriter will compare your financial profile to the home equity loan requirements. This comparison will determine whether you can officially get approval by examining your creditworthiness and borrowing history.
Your loan application’s underwriting and processing portion may take a full month, so have patience during this stage.
The final step is closing. In this stage, you’ll meet with the lender and any other essential parties to finalize the loan, sign your paperwork, and arrange for the disbursement of funds. This stage will typically take a week or less.
Factors That Can Impact Timelines
There are several factors that can either speed up or slow down the home equity loan timeline. Many closing dates get pushed back to allow for more time to review documents, finish the appraisal, and more.
While some factors may be out of your control, here are a few likely culprits behind delayed approval timelines:
Insufficient Documentation and Application
You may need to submit a copy of your property tax bill, proof of income, and current mortgage statement. Not having these documents readily available may lead to delays in processing your application.
The verification portion usually takes the most extended amount of time because it requires a detailed review of all financial and property information. During this time, the lender will look into your credit score, debt-to-income ratio, and current property debt.
If you are worried that they may run into trouble checking any of these items, provide any supplemental information you may have to speed up the process.
The appraisal will verify your home’s worth; your lender will typically assist with scheduling this. Depending on how busy the appraiser is, it may take more time than initially planned.
Finally, you’ll meet with a notary and your lender to sign and deliver all final documents. If your state requires a lawyer to be present for this, scheduling around a lawyer’s availability may delay the process.
Apply for Your Home Equity Loan with Associates Home Loan
There’s no straightforward answer to the question, “How long does it take to get a home equity loan?” It’s different from lender to lender—but also make sure to ask if you’re in need of cash quickly.
If you want to have access to the equity you’ve built, contact the team at Associates Home Loan today.