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How to Take Equity Out of Your Home

Written by Allison Martin

Allison Martin is a personal finance enthusiast and a passionate entrepreneur. With over a decade of experience, Allison has made a name for herself as a syndicated financial writer. Her articles are published in leading publications, like Banks.com, Bankrate, The Wall Street Journal, MSN Money, and Investopedia. When she’s not busy creating content, Allison travels nationwide, sharing her knowledge and expertise in financial literacy and entrepreneurship through interactive workshops and programs. She also works as a Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI) dedicated to helping people from all walks of life achieve financial freedom and success.

Updated January 2, 2024​

7 min. read​

how to take equity out of your home

If you’ve lived in your home for a bit, chances are you’ve built up a substantial amount of equity. This is also the case if the market has appreciated swiftly in your area and your home is worth far more than you paid for it.

Either way, you could convert your equity into cash through a home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC). But first, you’ll need to determine how much equity you have in your home.

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Understanding What Home Equity Is

Before exploring ways to pull equity from your home, it’s vital to understand what it actually is and why it’s significant.

The Importance of Home Equity

Home equity is an essential aspect of homeownership. It represents the portion of your home’s value that you own outright. As you pay down your mortgage and the value of your home increases, your home equity grows.

Having equity built up in your property provides financial flexibility and security should you need to access funds for important expenses. This can be a significant financial resource, allowing you to tap into it for home equity loan products or to use it as a down payment for another property.

Why You Should Care About Your Home Equity

There are several reasons why you should concern yourself with your home equity:

  • Wealth building: Home equity contributes to your overall net worth and can be a critical component of your financial health. The more equity you accumulate, the greater the net worth you attain.
  • Leverage: Accessing your home equity allows you to take out loans, invest in other properties or finance major expenses like home renovations. Or you can use the funds to consolidate high-interest debt.
  • Security: A substantial amount of home equity can serve as a financial safety net during challenging economic times, giving you the ability to tap into it if needed. This protects you from unforeseen financial setbacks that could otherwise be devastating to your financial well-being.

How to Calculate the Equity You Have In Your Home

It’s relatively easy to compute the amount of equity you have in your home. Simply determine the current value of your house and subtract the outstanding mortgage balance and any other home equity loans from this figure.

To illustrate, assume you purchase a home for $500,000 and make a down payment of $50,000, leaving the starting mortgage balance at $450,000. Over time, you’ve made $125,000 in mortgage payments and currently owe $325,000. If your home is now worth $575,000, you have $250,000 in equity ($575,000 – $325,000).

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Common Reasons to Take Equity Out of Your Home

Many homeowners borrow against their home equity to consolidate costly debt, fund home improvement projects, cover higher education expenses, or invest in an additional property.

Consolidation of Debt

High-interest debts such as credit card balances and personal loans can become overwhelming. If you have built up a substantial amount of home equity, it can be used to pay off those outstanding balances and consolidate into a single loan with a lower interest rate.

This allows you to manage your debts more effectively by getting a single monthly payment. You can also potentially save money in the long run due to lower overall interest payments.

Home Improvement Projects

Another reason for tapping into your home equity is to fund home improvement projects. These projects can enhance your home’s functionality, comfort and overall value. By using your home’s equity to cover the costs, you can avoid higher interest rates associated with personal loans or credit cards.

Furthermore, certain home improvement projects may qualify for tax deductions. This provides an extra incentive to borrow money against your home’s value.

Paying for Education

Education costs can be significant, especially if you or your loved ones plan to attend college or pursue higher education. To ease the burden, you can utilize your home equity to help pay for tuition, books, and other related expenses.

Doing so helps minimize the need for student loans, which often come with higher interest rates.

Investing in a Second Property

As you build up equity in your home, you may be interested in purchasing a second property for investment purposes or as a vacation home. Home equity can be used to fund the down payment or cover a portion of the purchase price.

Investing in a second property can help you diversify your investment portfolio and generate passive income through rental opportunities.

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Things to Consider When Taking Out Home Equity

Before applying for a home equity product, there are some essential factors to keep in mind.

Interest Rates

When taking equity out of your home, it’s essential to consider the interest you’ll be paying on the loan. In general, home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) offer lower interest rates than credit cards and personal loans.

That said, the rates may vary depending on your credit score and market conditions. You may have the option to select a fixed interest rate, which will remain the same for the duration of the loan. Or, the lender may offer a variable rate that changes with market fluctuations.

Possible Fees

Be mindful of the potential fees and closing costs associated with pulling equity out of your home. Some lenders charge fees for the application, appraisal or credit checks, which can add up quickly.

You might also face closing costs similar to those incurred when obtaining your initial mortgage. It’s important to compare different lenders and their associated fees to find the most viable but cost-efficient option.

Repayment Structure

The repayment structure of your home equity loan or HELOC significantly impacts how you manage your finances. Be aware that with a home equity loan, you’ll have a fixed payment schedule with regular monthly payments. However, a HELOC usually has a variable payment structure based on your outstanding balance and current interest rates.

So, ensure you understand and are comfortable with the payment terms before accessing your home equity.

Effects on Your Credit Score

Consider how taking out home equity will affect your credit score. Your score might be temporarily impacted during the application process due to hard credit inquiries. Also, if you don’t make timely payments or go into default, your credit score will be negatively affected.

Remember that using your home as collateral means there’s a risk of losing your home to foreclosure if you fall behind on payments and cannot repay the loan. Always borrow responsibly and ensure you have a plan in place for repayment.

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How to Take Equity Out of Your House

Most lenders cap the amount you can take out of your house at a certain percentage. Below is an overview of ways you can unlock your home equity.

Home Equity Loan

A home equity loan lets you borrow between 80 and 90 percent of your home’s market value minus the amount owed on the mortgage. Loan proceeds are dispersed in a lump sum, and you’ll make equal monthly payments for a set period as the interest rate is fixed.

It acts as a second mortgage that’s secured by the collateral in your home. Consequently, falling behind on payments could put your home at risk for foreclosure.

Using the scenario above, if the lender approved you for a home equity loan, you could be eligible for between $55,000 ($475,000 * .80 – $325,000) and $102,500 ($475,000 * .90 – $325,000).

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

Like a home equity loan, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) also acts as a second mortgage. However, you’ll get access to a pool of funds that you can make withdrawals from during what’s referred to as the draw period. You’re free to withdraw and repay as often as needed and will make interest-only payments.

When the draw period ends, withdrawals will no longer be permitted. You will also make monthly payments (principal and interest) on the outstanding balance. However, this amount can fluctuate as the interest rate for HELOCs is variable.

Cash-out Refinance

When you use a cash-out refinance to take equity out of your home, the lender swaps your current mortgage with a new one. It includes the existing balance and the amount of cash you take out. Most lenders allow you to tap into 80 percent of your home’s value minus what’s owed on the mortgage.

Take a closer look at how a cash-out refinance works using the scenario mentioned above:

You could get approved for up to $55,000 ($475,000 * .80 – $325,000). But instead of dispersing these funds to you through a second mortgage, the lender will roll the amount you borrow into the existing loan balance. Consequently, you’ll get a new mortgage for $380,000 ($325,000 + $55,000). And you could pay more in interest over the life of the loan if the new rate is higher.

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Conclusion: Choosing the Perfect Equity Option for You

When deciding on the best way to access your home’s equity, it’s essential to consider your individual financial situation and goals. There are several options to choose from, and each has its own benefits and drawbacks.

As mentioned above, Home Equity Loans are a popular choice for many homeowners. These loans offer a fixed interest rate and predictable monthly payments, making it easier to budget for additional expenses. Keep in mind that a home equity loan requires you to borrow a lump sum and repay it within a certain time frame.

Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs) provide a more flexible option, as they allow you to access your equity as needed rather than in one lump sum. With a HELOC, you only pay interest on the outstanding balance, which can help minimize monthly payments. However, HELOC interest rates can fluctuate, meaning that your payments may increase over time.

Cash-out Refinancing is an increasingly popular option for those looking to access the equity in their home. With a cash-out refinance, you can turn the equity of your home into usable cash – allowing you to pay off existing debt, upgrade your residence, or save money for a major purchase. For those looking for a reliable and knowledgeable mortgage refinance lender, Top Flite Financial is a great option. This loan option offers many benefits, including:

  • Flexible terms and competitive interest rates that make it easier to manage monthly payments
  • Better control over your finances by consolidating debts into one loan payment
  • The potential to increase the value of your home with upgrades and renovations
  • Quick application process and quick response times that allow you to get the funding you need without delay

In addition, Top Flite Financial is an experienced company with an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. Plus, FHA-approved counselors are always available to answer questions and provide guidance. Get in touch with an experienced Top Flite Financial representative today to review your options and find the perfect equity option for you.

Ultimately, the right choice for you will depend on your financial goals, the amount of equity you need to access, and your ability to manage the repayment terms. Be sure to compare home equity options from different lenders to find the best fit for your needs. Remember to consider your financial stability before tapping into your home’s equity.

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Homeowners Also Asked

Can you take equity out of your home without refinancing?

Yes, a home equity loan or HELOC allows you to take money out of your home without refinancing. You can also use a home equity co-investment to unlock equity without refinancing.

Can you take equity out of your house as cash?

Yes, you can get a home equity loan, cash-out refinance or co-investment to take equity out of your house as cash.

What can you use the cash for that you take from the equity of your home?

Home equity loan products and co-investments generally do not have restrictions on how funds can be used.

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