Financial Pros Answer Your Top Questions

Hutchins: "It is harder to get a loan today than it was yesterday; and absent effective action on the part of Congress and the administration, it will be even more difficult tomorrow. Whether you have good or bad credit, and lots of or little equity in your home, there is simply little money out there available to be borrowed. Most banks act primarily as brokers for loans: They make the loan, then immediately sell it to bigger banks, insurance companies and other institutional investors (you know, those firms that you have been reading about going bankrupt, being bailed out by the government or being absorbed at fire sale prices by other teetering financial institutions). All of this is changing day to day, so go to your local community bank and apply. You might have even better luck at a credit union if you belong to one. The acuteness of the problem is likely to subside, but the availability of credit is unlikely to return to levels anywhere near what it was prior to the current crisis."

Johnston: "I recently contacted a credit union and they tell me their standards for approving loans have not changed at all. They are still doing home equity loans. In my opinion, a home equity loan is a great vehicle to have as an emergency asset. However, I strongly recommend not using it unless you absolutely have to."

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