What is Home Equity?

Written by Banks Editorial Team
2 min. read
Written by Banks Editorial Team
2 min. read

If you’re a homeowner, or if you’re planning to buy property, you’ve probably heard the term home equity. Understanding this concept is important for all potential homeowners, but many people aren’t sure what it means.

Simply put, home equity is the market value of the property minus the value of what you owe. In other words, it is the total amount of money that you’ve paid back to the bank.  The better it is, the higher your net worth. You can think of home equity as a value or percentage. Let’s say your home has a value of $200k and you still owe the bank $160k.

Your current home equity value is $40k or 20%. Understanding your home value can also save you money if you choose to refinance your home.

Get a Home Loan or Refinance Your Mortgage

Understanding Home Equity and Home Ownership

If you’re new to thinking about this concept, you may be wondering about your actual status as a homeowner.

A 20% equity doesn’t technically mean that you only own 20% of your home. When you took out your mortgage, the bank purchased the house on your behalf. Legally speaking, you own the entire house. However, your property serves as the bank’s collateral until you pay off your mortgage. Until you do – according to your bank’s interests – what you truly “own” is your home equity.

How Do I Increase It?

The more home equity you have, the better. Equity growth happens in two ways; by paying off your home loan and by an increase in property value.

Of course, the first way is by paying back monthly installments of your loan, which will work in your favor over time. As interest charges fall, a greater portion of your payment will go towards paying off the principal loan amount. By paying off your loan consistently, the rate at which you acquire equity will increase. You can increase the value of your home by improving it. Renovating kitchens and bathrooms, updating fixtures and re-flooring can make a big difference. Or you could just get lucky. If a positive change in the real estate market occurs, your property can value increase without you having to move a muscle.

Home equity means more than just how much of your mortgage you’ve paid off. It can be used as a means of credit when buying another property, or to consolidate debt. Equity does take time and, of course, money to grow unless the value of your home appreciates overnight (lucky you!). But the investment will be worth it.

So if you are thinking about purchasing a home and then building it up, a good idea would be to start comparing mortgage rates to get monthly payments that you can pay as quickly as possible. Here are the latest ones:

Get a Home Loan or Refinance Your Mortgage

How Does my Home Equity Benefit Me?

This is where it gets interesting. Equity of at least 20% qualifies you for “a home equity line of credit” or HELOC.  This credit can be used for big expenses, such as property investment and debt consolidation. HELOC is great because typically it has lower interest rates than other loans and is tax-deductible.

Let’s say you’re looking to invest in another property that is valued at $100k. A bank loan will generally cover 80% of the expense, meaning that you would need to fork out $20K. Add to that legal and admin costs and you may start re-considering this promising investment.

Luckily enough, you have $40k of home equity on your first home which you can use to cover the cash deposit and initial costs. Another great thing about HELOC is that you can use it again after a time. You’ve just got to keep paying back your loan.

You may also like

Before you apply with a mortgage lender, understand how refinancing works and how long you need to wait before you can refinance your house.
Read more

Advertisement Disclosure

Product name, logo, brands, and other trademarks featured or referred to within Banks.com are the property of their respective trademark holders. This site may be compensated through third party advertisers. The offers that may appear on Banks.com’s website are from companies from which Banks.com may receive compensation. This compensation may influence the selection, appearance, and order of appearance of the offers listed on the website. However, this compensation also facilitates the provision by Banks.com of certain services to you at no charge. The website does not include all financial services companies or all of their available product and service offerings.