When you take out a second mortgage, a name for a home equity line of credit, you're offering your house as collateral to secure another loan. The upside: You can gain access to up to 85% of your home's value, minus your current mortgage balance and adjusted based on your creditworthiness.
The downside? If you can't make your payments, you could lose where you live.
Because the stakes are high, you want to make sure you use a HELOC for the right reasons. Here are a few.