Home Equity: What is it and how to use it

September 27, 2017
Jenny Pham

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The term equity simply means ownership, so home equity refers to the extent of ownership you have in your home. It is measured by the difference between the balance of your home loan and the market value of your home at any point in time. 

Home equity can build up over time

One of the great aspects of home equity is that it tends to increase over time - often without any effort on behalf of the home owner. A well chosen property should rise in value over the long term, and by steadily paying off your loan, the value of your mortgage decreases. The growing gap between the two - the property's value and the loan, represents the ongoing increase in your home equity. 

Accessing home equity

Not so long ago the only way home owners could acces their home equity was by selling up and upgrading to another property.

These days, mortgage are very flexible, and it's possible to make use of home equity without the need to sell a much-loved home. It's often acheived by refinancing your current home loan and using the funds provided from the newly enlarged loan to achieve a range of personal goals. 

A flexible range of uses

 As a guide, home equity can be used as a source of low cost funding for a new car, home improvements, a special holiday - in fact just about whatever purpose you choose. As home loan interest rates are generally much cheaper than other types of credit, like a personal loan, home equity can offer a very affordable source of funding. 

It's also possible to use home equity to grow your wealth. Some home owners for instance choose to use their equity as a deposit on a rental property. This expands your property ownership and provides a source of rental income, which can be used to pay off the loan.


How to calculate your home equity

Work out your home equity using this formula:

Property's market value - Remaining loan balance = Your home equity

For example, if your home is worth $700,000 and there is $300,000 remaining on your home loan, you have home equity worth $400,000. 

However, bear in mind that not all of this will be accessible, with lender only allowing you to borrow 80% of the property's value without being charged Lender's Mortgage Insurance (LMI). 

In other words, to avoid paying LMI, keep your Loan to Valuation Ratio (LVR) below 80%. In this given example, that means:

  • 80% of the property's market value = $560,000 (this is the maximum you can borrow without incurring LMI)
  • Remaining balance on loan = $300,000 (this is the amount you have already borrowed)
  • $560,000 - $300,000 = $260,000

So in this example, the amount of equity you can access without incurring LMI would be $260,000. 

Remember, even if you have already paid LMI before, you would still need to pay it again if you try to access equity that exceeds 80% LVR.

Call me today at 0499 643 643; let's discuss how we can unlock your equity and get started on your home loan journey!

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