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The Dynamics of Home Equity



For many people, their home is their largest asset and their best performing investment.  The equity in a home is the difference in what it is worth and what is owed.  Two dynamics, appreciation and unpaid balance, work in concert to make homeowner's equity grow.

It can be said that you appreciate the fact that your home is your best financial investment.  It is also ironic that the appreciation, the increase in value, is what causes it to be your best financial investment.

In a one-year period, the increase in value divided by the beginning value will determine the rate of appreciation for the year.  News stories and articles, frequently, report statistics on appreciation for the month, the year or longer. In many cases, a national appreciation is mentioned but the local appreciation is more reflective of an individual property.

The National Association of REALTORS® reports "The median existing-home price2 for all housing types in June was $363,300, up 23.4% from June 2020 ($294,400), as every region recorded price jumps. This marks 112 straight months of year-over-year gains."

The low inventory being experienced nationwide has caused some significant appreciation that has increased homeowners' equity.  According to Black Knight, a mortgage technology and research firm, at the end of 2020, roughly 46 million homeowners held a total of $7.3 trillion in equity.

If a homeowner has a mortgage on their home, while the home is appreciating, the unpaid balance is declining.  An increasing portion of each payment is applied, when the payment is made, to the principal balance to retire the debt based on the term of the loan.

Each month the equity in the home becomes larger because the home is worth more due to appreciation and the unpaid balance is less due to amortization.

Once a homeowner has sufficient equity in their home, they can borrow against it and take cash out of their home.  Most lenders require that the homeowner maintain at least 20% equity position.  This means that owners can borrow up to 80% of the appraised value less the amount that is currently owed on the property.

The options include a cash-out refinance mortgage or a home equity line of credit, HELOC.  While some institutions have stopped offering HELOCs, they are still available.

 The HELOC is a line of credit that is established for usually ten years.  The owner is approved, and the money is available to draw out as needed.  The interest is calculated daily.  Like a credit card, when the balance is paid down, the unused portion of the available credit is available again.

Your real estate agent may be able to offer some lender suggestions.

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