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Understanding equity in your home

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Equity is an important asset for every homeowner as it can be beneficial in many ways. You may be able to use your equity to improve your lifestyle.

Equity is an important asset for every homeowner as it can be beneficial in many ways. You may be able to use your equity to improve your lifestyle.

What is home equity?

The equity in your home is the difference between its market value and your remaining home loan balance. To put it simply, this is the value of what you currently own in your home.

For example, the market value of your home is $350,000 and you still owe $200,000. When you subtract the loan balance from your property value, you have equity of $150,000.

Your equity tends to build over time as you continue paying off your loan and as your property value increases.

So, if your $350,000 property increases in value by 12% in a year you’ll have an extra $42,000 in equity.

Plus the repayments made over the course of the loan can significantly increase your equity. Use our equity calculator to help you find out how much usable equity you have.

How to calculate your equity

If you’re thinking of buying a second property, funding a renovation or even paying for something like a wedding or a holiday, working out how much equity you have could be a very cost-effective way of doing so.

loans.com.au ’s home equity calculator can help you work it out how much equity you have in your home in order to help fund your next move. All you have to do is enter:

  • The estimated value of your property (our free property reports can help with that); and

  • The outstanding amount owed on your home loan

This should tell you how much total equity you have, and how much of it is usable. Once that’s done, speak to loans.com.au lending specialist and find out if you qualify for pre-approval to get started on refinancing.

Calculate your equity

How to grow your equity

There are number of ways you can grow your equity, here are some of them:

1. Make additional repayments

Additional lump sum payments are advantageous in growing your equity and cutting your future interest charges. Raising the amount of your repayment amount will naturally chip away at your remaining balance faster, helping you to rapidly accumulate equity.

Making extra or larger repayments than the minimum repayments required can also increase your equity.

2. Shorten your loan term 

Shortening your loan term from the typical 30-year mortgage will increase the size of your repayments but will also speed up your accumulation of home equity.

3. Increase the value of your home with renovations

Your equity is linked to the value of your home. So increasing how much your home is worth will naturally increase your overall equity. Adding some valuable renovations to your home could do wonders for your overarching equity value.

Home improvements, renovations and maintenance can all be beneficial, just be sure to understand how much you stand to gain in order to make the most valuable decision.

As long as you decrease your home loan debt, or increase the value of the property through capital growth or renovations, you will increase your home equity over time.

How do you borrow against the equity in your home?

Equity is an important asset for every homeowner as it can be beneficial in many ways. You can use your existing equity when you need a loan. This type of loan is called a “home equity loan” where the borrower uses their home equity to cover the deposit on a new property, while using their current home as a collateral.

Accruing a big chunk of equity can provide many opportunities. If you plan on selling your house, the equity turns into cash once the home is sold.

Your equity can be used to finance a new car, fund your home renovation, invest in the share market, for education, or for a family vacation. 

It may also help you to buy your next house or investment property sooner since you won’t need to save for the whole deposit, which can take time.

Does equity increase your borrowing power?

If you have enough equity in your home, you usually don’t require a deposit if you’re purchasing another property, since equity acts as a deposit and increases your borrowing capacity. Essentially, equity can be leveraged to access borrowing power without actually selling the property.

Using that example above, you could use $100,000 of your equity as a deposit to borrow with, saving you the trouble of having to scrimp and save thousands for another deposit.

Of course, there are still other costs to factor in - borrowing a for a house, for example, might still require you to pay stamp duty and legal fees - but usable equity can be a much more cost-effective way of increasing your borrowing power than building another deposit all over again.

Find out more about how much equity you need to refinance.

How much can I borrow for an equity home loan?

Your lender will conduct a valuation on your property to see the current value of your house. They will also asses your loan to value ratio (LVR) to ensure some equity is held as security. This can also help you determine how much equity is left after refinancing.

Applying for a home equity loan is like applying for a traditional home loan. Lenders will assess your income, expenses, credit history, your home market value, and borrowing capacity.

How can I use equity in my property?

You may be able to use the equity in your home for a number of purposes, but some of the most common uses include:

1. Buying an investment property

Some people use the equity in their home as a deposit for an investment property. You may also be able to negatively gear your investment property. Lenders generally allow borrowers to borrow up to 80% of the property value, minus any outstanding debt.

2. Renovating your home

Another common use of equity is to use to fund your home renovation project. To do this you refinance with a new or an existing lender and increase the amount you owe to the lender to gain the renovation capital.

3. Using equity for investments

Some people also decide to use the equity in their home to grow their wealth further by investing in the share market or starting a business.

What is the process of using equity in your home?

One way to access the equity in your home is to speak to your current lender. The lender may request a formal valuation to be done on your home. Once your property has been valued the lender can give you a clearer idea of how much equity you can use.

Home equity FAQS

How do you build equity in your home?

You can build equity in your home by making more frequent or bigger mortgage repayments. Increasing the value of your property via renovations can also build equity.

How do you access your equity?

There are several ways you can access your equity, with the most common generally being:

  • By using a redraw facility (if you’ve made extra repayments to your loan, and your loan has this feature);
  • By adding extra to your current home loan, borrowing more
  • Or by refinancing your current home loan

The main way you can access your equity is by firstly, speaking to your existing lender directly, or refinancing your existing mortgage to a different loan, possibly one with a lower interest rate or to a different type of home loan. When refinancing, a lender will often conduct a formal valuation on your home to work out its current value, and this new value will determine how much equity you’re allowed to use.

Refinancing to access your equity can also mean bigger repayments as you’re borrowing more money (especially if you’re buying a second home), so carefully consider if you can afford the extra repayments.

What is equity release?

Equity release is a way of accessing the equity you’ve built up in your home. You can access your equity as a lump sum or via several installments. You can do this via a number of ways like refinancing, drawing down on your mortgage repayments.

How do I use equity in my home to buy an investment property?

If you want to use the equity in your home to buy an investment property, you need to calculate how much usable equity you have. Keep in mind you may not necessarily be automatically approved for that loan amount, as you’ll still need to go through the lender’s usual approval process.

Banks will usually allow you to borrow up to 80% of the value of your property but they will also take other factors like your income and debts into account.

About the article

As Australia's leading online lender, loans.com.au has been helping people into their dream homes and cars for more than 10 years. Our content is written and reviewed by experienced financial experts. The information we provide is general in nature and does not take into account your personal objectives or needs. If you'd like to chat to one of our lending specialists about a home or car loan, contact us on Live Chat or by calling 13 10 90.

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