Definition of Home Equity

As homeowners make regular mortgage payments, their home equity increases, eventually reaching 100% when the mortgage is fully paid off. Home equity is a significant financial asset for homeowners, as it can be utilized for various purposes such as securing a new property, remortgaging, or obtaining home equity loans and lines of credit. It is essential for homeowners to understand the concept of home equity and its implications on their financial decisions, as it can significantly impact their overall wealth and financial stability.

Factors Affecting Home Equity

Various factors can influence home equity, including market conditions, property location, and home improvements. Market conditions play a significant role in determining a property’s value, with fluctuations in the real estate market directly affecting home equity. For instance, during a housing market boom, property values may increase, leading to a rise in home equity. Conversely, during a downturn, property values may decrease, reducing home equity.

The location of a property also impacts its value and, consequently, home equity. Properties in desirable neighborhoods or those with access to amenities, such as schools, parks, and public transportation, tend to have higher values. As a result, homeowners in these areas may experience an increase in home equity over time.

Lastly, home improvements can affect home equity by increasing a property’s value. However, not all improvements yield the same return on investment. Some projects, such as kitchen and bathroom renovations, may significantly increase a property’s value, while others may not recoup their costs. Homeowners should carefully consider the potential impact of any home improvement projects on their property’s value and home equity before undertaking them (Friedman, 2020; Investopedia, 2021).


Calculating Home Equity

Calculating home equity involves determining the difference between the current market value of your property and the outstanding balance on your mortgage. To begin, you must first assess the current market value of your property, which can be done through a professional appraisal or by comparing similar properties in your area. Next, you need to find out the outstanding balance on your mortgage, which can be obtained from your mortgage statement or by contacting your lender. Once you have both figures, subtract the outstanding mortgage balance from the current market value of your property. The resulting figure represents your home equity. Keep in mind that home equity can fluctuate over time due to changes in property values and mortgage payments, so it is essential to regularly reassess your home equity to stay informed about your financial position.


  • (Investopedia, 2020; The Balance, 2020)

Home Equity and Mortgage Payments

Home equity and mortgage payments are intrinsically linked, as the former is directly influenced by the latter. Home equity refers to the portion of a property that the homeowner owns outright, which is calculated by subtracting the outstanding mortgage balance from the property’s current market value. As mortgage payments are made, the outstanding balance decreases, leading to an increase in home equity. This relationship is crucial for homeowners, as higher equity can provide financial benefits such as better mortgage refinancing options and access to home equity loans or lines of credit.

Mortgage payments typically consist of principal and interest components. The principal portion reduces the outstanding mortgage balance, thereby increasing home equity, while the interest portion represents the cost of borrowing. Over time, as the mortgage balance decreases, the principal component of the mortgage payment increases, accelerating the growth of home equity. Consequently, homeowners who make regular mortgage payments or opt for shorter mortgage terms can build equity more rapidly, enhancing their financial flexibility and security (Feldstein, 2013; Ghent & Kudlyak, 2011).


  • Feldstein, M. (2013). The role of housing in the US economy. The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 27(4), 3-24.
  • Ghent, A. C., & Kudlyak, M. (2011). Recourse and residential mortgage default: Evidence from US states. The Review of Financial Studies, 24(9), 3139-3186.

Using Home Equity for a New Property Purchase

Home equity, the difference between a property’s market value and the outstanding mortgage balance, can be utilized as a financial tool when purchasing a new property. One common method is to use the equity as a deposit for the new home. For instance, if a homeowner has 100,000 in equity and wishes to purchase a property worth 400,000, they can apply for a mortgage with a 75% loan-to-value (LTV) rate, which may result in more attractive mortgage terms and lower monthly payments.

Another option is to remortgage the existing property, releasing a portion of the equity to fund the new property purchase. This can be particularly useful for individuals looking to invest in buy-to-let properties or assist family members in acquiring their own homes. However, it is essential to consider the potential increase in mortgage payments and interest rates when borrowing against home equity. Seeking professional advice from a financial advisor or mortgage broker can help homeowners make informed decisions about leveraging their home equity for property purchases (Charles Cameron & Associates, 2020).

Remortgaging with Home Equity

Home equity can be utilized for remortgaging purposes in two primary ways: securing a better mortgage deal and releasing funds for various purposes, such as home improvements or assisting family members in purchasing their own property. When remortgaging, the amount of equity you have in your property plays a crucial role in determining the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio, which in turn affects the mortgage deals available to you. A lower LTV typically results in more attractive mortgage terms and lower monthly payments, as lenders perceive the risk to be lower. Additionally, your home equity can be used to borrow more money, with the loan guaranteed by the property value. For instance, if you have 250,000 of equity in a 500,000 house, you could potentially obtain a new mortgage of 325,000 (an LTV of 65%) and access an extra 75,000 for various purposes. However, it is essential to consider that increasing your LTV may result in higher interest rates and monthly payments (Charles Cameron & Associates, 2020).

Home Equity Loans and Lines of Credit

Home equity loans and lines of credit are financial products that allow homeowners to borrow against the equity in their property. Home equity is the difference between the current market value of a property and the outstanding mortgage balance. Home equity loans provide a lump sum amount to the borrower, which is repaid over a fixed term with a fixed interest rate. On the other hand, home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) function similarly to credit cards, where borrowers have a revolving credit limit and can draw funds as needed, with interest rates typically being variable.

Both home equity loans and HELOCs are secured by the borrower’s property, meaning that the lender has a legal claim on the property in case of default. These financial products can be used for various purposes, such as home improvements, debt consolidation, or financing major expenses like education or medical bills. However, it is crucial for homeowners to carefully consider the risks and benefits associated with using their home equity, as failure to repay the borrowed amount could result in the loss of their property (Federal Reserve, n.d.; Investopedia, 2021).

Increasing Home Equity through Lump Sum Payments and Shortening Mortgage Terms

Lump sum payments and shortening mortgage terms can significantly contribute to increasing home equity. By making lump sum payments towards the principal balance of a mortgage, homeowners can reduce the outstanding loan amount, thereby increasing their equity in the property. This strategy not only accelerates the process of building equity but also reduces the overall interest paid on the mortgage, as interest is calculated based on the outstanding principal balance (Pettit, 2021).

Similarly, shortening the mortgage term can also lead to increased home equity. By opting for a shorter mortgage term, homeowners commit to making higher monthly payments, which results in a larger portion of each payment being allocated towards the principal balance. Consequently, the mortgage is paid off more quickly, and the homeowner’s equity in the property increases at a faster rate (Investopedia, 2020). Both of these strategies can be particularly beneficial for homeowners looking to build equity in their property, as they allow for greater financial flexibility and potential access to better mortgage or refinancing deals in the future.

Home Improvements and Their Impact on Home Equity

Home improvements can significantly impact home equity by increasing the market value of a property. However, the extent of this impact depends on the type and quality of the improvements made. For instance, renovations that enhance the property’s functionality, energy efficiency, or aesthetic appeal are more likely to yield a higher return on investment (ROI) and boost home equity. Examples of such improvements include kitchen and bathroom remodels, adding a bedroom or bathroom, and installing energy-efficient windows or heating systems.

On the other hand, some home improvements may not recoup their costs, resulting in a minimal or negative impact on home equity. Factors such as the local housing market, the property’s initial condition, and the homeowner’s ability to maintain the improvements can influence the overall effect on home equity. Therefore, it is crucial for homeowners to carefully consider the potential ROI of any home improvement project before undertaking it. Consulting with real estate professionals and conducting thorough research can help homeowners make informed decisions that maximize their home equity gains (Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, 2019).


  • Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. (2019). Improving America’s Housing 2019.

Risks and Benefits of Using Home Equity

Utilizing home equity for financial purposes can offer several benefits, including the potential for lower interest rates on loans and lines of credit compared to unsecured debt, such as credit cards. This is because home equity loans and lines of credit are secured by the property, reducing the lender’s risk. Additionally, using home equity can provide access to larger sums of money for purposes such as home improvements, debt consolidation, or investing in a new property, which may lead to increased property value and financial growth.

However, there are also risks associated with using home equity. Borrowers must be cautious not to overextend themselves, as failure to repay the loan or line of credit can result in the loss of their home. Moreover, the fluctuation of property values can impact the amount of available equity, potentially leading to negative equity if the property value decreases significantly. Furthermore, using home equity for short-term expenses or consumption may not be a wise financial decision, as it can lead to long-term debt and reduced financial stability. It is essential for homeowners to carefully weigh the risks and benefits of using home equity and seek professional advice to make informed decisions (Charles Cameron & Associates, 2020; Spot Blue, n.d.).


  • [1] Charles Cameron & Associates. (2020). What is equity on a house and how can I use it?

Seeking Professional Advice on Home Equity

Seeking professional advice when making decisions about home equity is crucial due to the complex nature of financial products and the potential long-term implications of these decisions. Expert guidance can help homeowners navigate the various options available, such as remortgaging, home equity loans, and lines of credit, ensuring that they make informed choices tailored to their specific financial situation and goals. Additionally, professionals can provide insights into the potential risks and benefits associated with using home equity, enabling homeowners to weigh their options carefully and avoid potential pitfalls. Furthermore, tax implications related to home equity transactions can be intricate, and professional advice can help homeowners understand and optimize their tax liabilities. In summary, seeking professional advice on home equity matters can lead to better financial outcomes, risk management, and overall peace of mind for homeowners (Charles Cameron & Associates, 2020; Spot Blue, n.d.).


Home Equity and Tax Implications

The tax implications associated with home equity can vary depending on how the equity is utilized. When homeowners use their home equity to secure a loan or a line of credit, the interest paid on these financial products may be tax-deductible under certain circumstances. In the United States, for example, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 stipulates that interest paid on home equity loans and lines of credit is deductible only if the funds are used to buy, build, or substantially improve the taxpayer’s home that secures the loan (Internal Revenue Service, 2018). This means that if the borrowed funds are used for other purposes, such as debt consolidation or personal expenses, the interest paid on the loan or line of credit is not tax-deductible.

Additionally, when homeowners sell their property and have a significant amount of home equity, they may be subject to capital gains tax on the profit made from the sale. However, there are exemptions available for primary residences. In the United States, single taxpayers can exclude up to $250,000 of capital gains, while married taxpayers filing jointly can exclude up to $500,000, provided they meet certain criteria (Internal Revenue Service, n.d.).


Category: Money