'Equity' is what you make on a home you sell, after paying off what you owe on it.
'Equity-access loans' are a way of binding that value up in debt: a way of making it so instead of having a positive net worth (wealth) what you have is negative net worth (debt/poverty). If the value of the house drops, you not only lose the equity that was used to secure the loan, but end up owing more than the property is worth (which is what happened in the last housing bubble disaster all over the US).
What is really is, with it's pretty name, is extremely expensive debt. Like a mortgage, the money is paid back over such a long time that the interest paid may be 2-5 times what was borrowed: making whatever you bought cost you 2-5 times the sticker price.
Would you buy a car for 5 times the price? Equity borrowing makes that possible. What a great way to stay poor, eh?
at 11:28 AM on Jan. 25, 2010