U.S. homeowners have seen their equity increase by over 32.2% since the first quarter of 2021. That’s a year-over-year gain of over $3.8 trillion. This significant increase in home equity has provided many homeowners with the opportunities to cash in through home equity loans, cash-out refinancing, or home equity lines of credit (HELOC).
What Does it Mean to be Equity Rich?
Equity is the market value of your home minus your mortgage balance. Homeowners are considered equity rich when they have a minimum of 50% equity in their homes. The number of equity-rich homeowners typically increases as property values soar because the market value of people’s homes is increasing while the amount they owe does not.
Understanding the tremendous increase in property value across the United States over the past year, it’s only logical that there would be a steep increase in equity-rich homeowners.
Why is Home Equity Important?
Home equity is an excellent long-term wealth-building strategy. To demonstrate just how true this is, let’s compare an auto loan to a mortgage. When you take out an auto loan, you are paying interest on an asset that depreciates in value as soon as you drive it off the lot. That means that when you’ve paid off the loan, the car will most likely be worth less than your purchase price and you will have paid interest.
In contrast, mortgage payments reduce your debt while your home increases in value. Of course, property values could drop, but that is unlikely to happen over the long term. One very financially powerful aspect of this is that you don’t need to sell your home to profit from it.
How to Access Home Equity
Equity-rich homeowners have three options for accessing their equity without selling their homes:
1. Home Equity Loan — Think of this as taking out a second mortgage for a fixed rate that must be repaid within a set period. Home equity loans often have slightly higher interest rates than primary mortgages because if a home is foreclosed, the primary lender must be repaid first.
2. HELOC — Like a home equity loan, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) acts like a second mortgage, but it provides more flexibility for the borrower. That’s because HELOCs have a revolving balance like a low-interest rate credit card—you can borrow what you need, repay it, and borrow again. There are usually no closing costs, and HELOCs typically have adjustable rates that vary with the prime rate.
3. Cash-Out Refinance — This option leaves homeowners with less equity in their home because you are refinancing your home for a larger amount and taking the difference in cash. Banks typically see this as riskier, meaning that closing costs can be higher.
The best for cashing in on your equity depends on your goals. For example, a home equity loan would be great for medical fees, educational expenses, and debt consolidation because you have immediate access to the money.
In contrast, a homeowner who needs money periodically for home improvements or a business might opt for a HELOC, and a cash-out refinance is typically best for those who need cash immediately.
Should Equity Rich Homeowners Buy or Sell?
Both buying, selling, and staying in a home with untapped equity could be beneficial. Homeowners who want to sell can purchase another property and use a HELOC to make renovations on their first home while they live in their second. They could also take an equity line of credit to make a downpayment on a new home.
However, staying in an equity-rich home can also be a wise financial decision. You can still cash in on the equity and enjoy the increasing value of the home. Keep in mind that if you sell a home in an up market, you will have to buy a home in an up market.
Interested in releasing equity? America Mortgages has a 97% approval rate for both U.S. Citizens & Foreign Nationals. As a company our only focus is providing market rate U.S. mortgage financing for foreign nationals and U.S. expats. No one does it better!
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