A second mortgage is a subordinate mortgage taken on by a borrower while a first mortgage is still in place. In situations where a homeowner has built up equity in his or her property by paying down a first lien mortgage, or property appreciation as occurred, one may want to borrow against this new equity to fund projects or other expenditures. Due to the fact the second mortgages only receive payment when the first mortgage has been paid off, they typically hold higher interest rates.
There are two main types of second mortgages that exist: a home equity loan and a line of credit. A home equity loan is where a borrower receives a upfront lump sum from the lender, and makes interest and principal over the mortgages term, similar to a conventional loan. A line of credit is where the lender allots a predetermined amount of money for the borrower to draw from, with the borrower able to borrow and repay the line of credit as often as they wish. Note that in a line of credit type loan, the borrower is not required to take any funds from the borrower.