CAUTION!   Finance companies are pushing hard for your decision to use your real estate as collateral for debt consolidation loans.   They are offering loans of up to 1 1/4 above the value of your house.  Be very careful.  You may put yourself into a position where you may loose your real estate.  These loans are considered as mortgages on your real estate and if, for any reason, you get behind, the creditor would have the right to foreclose on that mortgage.  In many cases, also, you may have no or not have enough equity in the real estate to even be able to sell it.  If you are near retirement, you may end up having a house whose payments you cannot afford since  your income will usually decline upon retirements.   Don't lock yourself into a trap you may not be able to escape from, even if you file bankruptcy.

Some companies are even offering loans where all you pay on your mortgage is the interest for a set period of time and then pay a balloon payment of the principal after a certain period.   You end up never paying down the mortgage over that period.   You are still in debt after 20 years. And they still have your house in case you can not pay the mortgage.  Again, be very careful!