How To Protect Your Biggest Investment

A study by Demos found that 51 percent of households refinancing between 2001 and 2003 used home-equity loans to cover living expenses and pay down other debt such as credit-card debt.
 
The wealth of new services and flexible lending practices have brought more choice and price competition to the marketplace. But many of the innovations bring new hazards that can trip up unwary homeowners, costing them thousands in unnecessary expenses, draining value from their biggest investment, and, in the worst cases, turning their houses into debt traps.