Twice as many respondents in a recent survey are likely to have home equity loans by the end of the year as had them in 2003, indicating the rising popularity of such loans, according to LendingTree Inc., Charlotte, N.C.The company said its first Survey on Consumer Trends in Home Equity Lending found that a projected 23.5% of respondents will have obtained a home equity loan by the end of 2004, compared with 11.7% who did so last year and 6.7% in 2002. "It's clear that homeowners are becoming more sophisticated about tapping into their home's borrowing power," said Brian Regan, LendingTree's chief consumer officer. The survey also found that the popularity of home equity lines of credit has increased "dramatically" over the past 10 years. In the first four months of 2004, 68.3% of homeowners chose a HELOC over a home equity loan, compared with 37.5% in 1999 and 23.1% in 1994, LendingTree reported.

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