As with any loan, secured loans allow you to borrow a lump sum of money that you will then need to pay back with interest. What differentiates secured loans from other types of lending is that they require you to put up collateral (i.e. a security that can be claimed by the lender) against the loan.
The most common type of secured loan – and the one featured on this page – is the type that requires property as collateral, which is why these loans are sometimes called homeowner loans. There are, however, other types of secured loans that allow you to use your car (logbook loans) or another valuable asset as collateral.
Technically, a mortgage also counts as a type of secured loan, since you’re risking repossession of your house to get the funds to buy it in the first place. That’s why secured loans are also sometimes referred to as second mortgages or second charge mortgages, with the initial mortgage that allows you to buy your house referred to as the first charge mortgage.
Second charge mortgages tend to be a lot more complex than other types of loans. That’s why it’s so important to do your research before committing to one. That said, while the type of loan is complex, secured loan providers can afford to be a bit more lenient when it comes to evaluating the credit history of applicants, which is why people can sometimes use these loans to improve a bad credit rating.
Unlike secured loans, unsecured loans do not require you to put up collateral. However, it’s worth remembering that if you get into enough debt, you may still end up having to sell your house in order to repay your lenders, even with an unsecured loan.
Aside from this, the main differences are:
Of course, as always, the rates that you are able to get will depend on your credit rating, as well as how savvy you are about finding the best deal out there for your requirements.
Note that a period of unequal competition in the different loan markets can mean that the best interest rates will not be found in the secured loans market, but rather the unsecured loans market, which is why you should always compare loans for yourself.
Even if you’ve compared the best secured loans and found the lowest rate possible, you may still be hesitant considering that if you fail to keep up with repayments your home may be repossessed. Secured loans certainly require careful consideration, but if you’ve got a large expense coming up and you know you’ll be able to make the repayments every month, they could be the right choice. Likewise, if you’ve already got some debt or a bad credit rating and you need funds to get back on your feet, you are more likely to qualify for a secured loan than an unsecured one.
While you can use secured loans for bad credit by consolidating your debts, there are happier uses for these loans as well. One of the most popular reasons people take out such a loan is to pay for home renovations, so you’ll be able to enjoy the upgrade to your house while paying off your debt. Other uses include buying a car or paying for a wedding.
Possibly more challenging than deciding whether or not to take out a loan is finding the best secured loan for your needs. Bear in mind that this is not necessarily the loan with the lowest interest rate, as that might not have the right terms or could charge higher fees. Always compare the fees, conditions and the interest rate before deciding.
Other things to consider are:
The criteria, much like the loan amount, can often come down to personal preference and circumstances. What is not up for debate is how much you have to offer. Above you will see the max LTV mentioned, this refers to the loan-to-value (LTV) of your current mortgage combined with the value of the second charge mortgage on offer. Generally speaking, the lower your LTV – and therefore the greater amount of equity you have – the better a loan you can get. Just like with regular first charge mortgages, a low LTV marks you as being less risky to the secured loan provider, as you’re essentially borrowing a lower percentage of your home’s value.
If you are a homeowner with debt or a large purchase to consider, one of these loans could be for you. Note that while it is possible to take out a secured loan on a property you are renting out, it is not possible to apply for a secured loan if you are not the sole owner of the property you would like to use as security.
There are of course some more eligibility criteria, which will differ between providers; you will most likely have to have been a UK resident for some years, and have a stable address and income so the lender knows you’re a good bet. However, unlike with unsecured loans, a poor credit rating does not necessarily disqualify you from a homeowner loan.
Why secured loans are more amenable to those who don’t exactly have a perfect credit score goes back to the main difference between secured and unsecured loans. Because you put up an asset as collateral against the loan, it is easier for loan providers to take the (lesser) risk. Instead, you take on the majority of the risk, as you could lose your home if you are unable to repay the loan.
Someone with bad credit may not be able to get the best secured loan, or indeed the rate as it is advertised, but if your only option is to borrow money, then a secured loan could be a better option than an unsecured one. For one, loan brokers such as our comparison partner tend not to start with a credit check, which means you can inquire about secured loans without immediately risking your credit score being damaged further. And, as stated above, you should be able to get a lower interest rate on a secured homeowner loan.
If you use such a loan responsibly, and don’t miss any repayments or indeed overpay, you could improve your credit rating. There may however be other ways to improve your credit that are more suitable.
Related to building credit, you could consolidate all your debt into one single secured loan to make repayments easier and maybe even improve your credit score as you climb out of the red. However, consolidating a secured loan into another secured loan could be both tricky and risky; not only could it be harder to find a lender who will take you on, you could end up paying more in interest, incur early repayment fees and take longer to pay off the debt, which is why it would be a good idea to seek independent advice before considering this.
Rather than consolidating your loans, it might be a better option to keep your secured loans separate. There will certainly be a limit to the number of such loans you can have, though, especially if you don’t treat them responsibly. Again, don’t hesitate to seek advice if you’re not sure what to do, or you’re feeling overwhelmed by debt, from a debt charity for instance.
There are both fixed and variable rate loans available, so you should consider if you’d prefer repayment security or you’d rather take your chances on a lower rate that might go up in the future. It is easy to see in the chart above which loans are variable and which offer fixed rates.
If you don’t have any equity that a lender can use as a security against your loan, you are very unlikely to be able to get a homeowner loan. Contact an independent adviser to find out what your options are.
As you can see from the chart above, secured loans do not need to be repaid within the first 12 months. There are different terms available to suit different needs. Remember though that while you could repay the loan early – even in the first 12 months – this will likely result in a high rate of interest being charged (the longer the loan term, the lower the interest is as a percentage of the loan) and an early repayment penalty.
If you miss too many repayments, your lender could take you to court and you could lose your house. To avoid this, and if you really can’t afford to make a repayment anymore, ask your lender if they allow payment breaks or deferment for a little while. In fact, this would be a good question to ask before you take out a loan. If you’re stuck, consider seeking professional advice from a debt charity.
Secured loans can be a good idea, but you will have to weigh the benefits against the risks and make that decision for yourself. The benefits are obvious – a large lump sum with a reasonable repayment term and relatively low interest rate.
The main risk that comes with a secured homeowner loan is similar to the risk that comes with taking out a mortgage; if you fail to keep up with repayments, you risk the asset that you’ve used to secure the loan being repossessed, which means in an extreme case you could end up losing your home, even if you are keeping up with your regular mortgage payments.
To minimise this risk, you should never take on such a loan if you are not sure you will be able to keep up with the monthly repayments. Make a budget, calculate your monthly expenses, and give yourself a decent margin in case of unforeseen circumstances. Especially if you’re taking out the loan to complete home improvements, you should do a thorough risk assessment, as renovation projects can often get delayed or otherwise end up more costly than anticipated.
Secured loans are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, the UK’s financial regulator, so lenders will require you to show that you will be able to repay the money before they will lend to you.
As an alternative to the above, you might find that an unsecured loan or a further advance from your existing lender works better for your needs. Remember also that if you are of a certain age and have paid off (most of) your mortgage, you may qualify for an equity release loan instead.
Disclaimer: This information is intended solely to provide guidance and is not financial advice. Moneyfacts will not be liable for any loss arising from your use or reliance on this information. If you are in any doubt, Moneyfacts recommends you obtain independent financial advice.