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Millennials, Gen Z Increasingly Gravitating Toward HELOCs

A new study from Citizens Financial Group found that, as interest rates continue to linger in the 7% range, home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) remain a popular tool for U.S. homeowners looking to access a flexible borrowing option.

The new study, which measures homeowner sentiment around HELOCs, cash-out refinances and other issues impacting homeowners, shows that 84% of homeowners have some level of familiarity with HELOCs, and, of those familiar, nearly half (46%) consider themselves likely to apply in the next three years, with younger generations as the most likely. Current homeowners also ranked personal loans side by side with HELOCs (69%) and personal bank loans (69%) among their preferred loan alternatives.

“Homeowners are following their home’s equity more closely as prices fluctuate, and the growing HELOC space is a testament to that,” said Adam Boyd, SVP, Head of Home Equity Lending at Citizens. “We are fully committed to the HELOC space as demonstrated by our leading offerings and this survey, which shows Millennials and Gen Z are continuing to adopt the HELOC product or consider applying as rates change their homeowner goals and ambitions.”

The survey was conducted for Citizens by Wakefield Research among 1,000 nationally representative U.S. homeowners, between October 14-23, 2022, using an email invitation and an online survey. Data has been weighted to ensure an accurate representation of U.S. homeowners ages 18 and over.

The Citizens survey found that younger generations were more likely to consider applying for a HELOC, including 60% of Generation Z and 77% of Millennials, citing that they were likely to apply in the next three years. Generations had different expectations on how they would or previously have used HELOCs with Millennials (45%), Gen Xers (54%) and Boomers (38%) reported using the product most for home renovations, whereas Gen Zer’s were more likely to consider the product to help build their savings funds (39%).

And despite continued market volatility, the Citizens study found that homeowners are feeling financially stable and are staying put, as 68% of those surveyed did not plan to sell their home in the next five years. As HELOCs can also be used for a range of uses, the survey found renovations were the most popular usage among all ages (43%) and that share is likely to grow as many homebuyers stay in their homes longer and seek customizations.

“With homeowners facing record inflation levels it’s important that they create strategies to streamline existing debts into manageable payments and that’s possible through a HELOC,” added Boyd. “HELOCs are popular right now because they provide homeowners with a low-cost solution to access their home’s equity for financing needs without impacting the rate on their mortgage.”

Homeowners polled felt confident in their ability to pay their mortgage over the next 12 months, with 52% feeling completely confident and 6% feeling not too confident or not at all confident.

And with refis declining due to an erratic rate environment, many consumers are also considering HELOCs as an alternative to draw cash funds. Among those who previously used a cash-out refinance, homeowners most often put the funds toward a renovation (33%), debt consolidation (31%), or savings funds (27%).

About Author: Eric C. Peck

Eric C. Peck has 20-plus years’ experience covering the mortgage industry, he most recently served as Editor-in-Chief for The Mortgage Press and National Mortgage Professional Magazine. Peck graduated from the New York Institute of Technology where he received his B.A. in Communication Arts/Media. After graduating, he began his professional career with Videography Magazine before landing in the mortgage space. Peck has edited three published books and has served as Copy Editor for Entrepreneur.com.
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