5 Times a Home Equity Loan Makes Sense

Taking out a home equity loan for the wrong reason or at the wrong time could cost you big.

If you owe less on your home than it’s worth, you have equity. With a home equity loan, you borrow against that equity and pay the loan back in equal monthly installments for a preset number of years (typically, five to 30 years). The amount you can borrow is usually capped at 80% to 85% of available equity. For example, if your home is worth $300,000 and you owe $200,000, you have $100,000 in equity. That means you may be eligible to borrow $80,000 to $85,000 in a home equity loan.

When you take out a home equity loan, your home acts as collateral, meaning a lender can repossess your house if you fail to make payments. Home equity loans can be useful, but it is crucial to consider whether you

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How to Pay for a Home Remodel Without Tapping Your Equity

Erin Nelsen’s house could use more walls.

The certified financial planner works outside the home from an office in Cypress, California. But her husband, Shawn, works from a makeshift home office in their kitchen. From there, he hears his kids attending online school through an opening to the adjacent dining room.

To accommodate his new working conditions, Shawn taped a “sound-insulating foam barrier” in the opening, Nelsen says.

Other homeowners have used their time sheltering in place to make more permanent changes. About one-third (34%) of homeowners who have done improvements since March 1 started sooner than planned because they had more free time at home during COVID-19 social distancing measures. That’s according to a NerdWallet survey conducted online by The Harris Poll among more than 800 homeowners who have done home improvements since March 1.

Seven percent of those renovating homeowners used a home equity loan or line of

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Just Approved: Cheap money to access from home equity

Mortgage adviser: Liz Bayer, ProMortgage.

Property type: Single-family home in Berkeley.

Appraised value: $1.215 million.

Loan amount: $449,000.

Loan type: 30-year fixed.

Rate: 2.625%.

APR: 2.841%.

Backstory: I have a number of clients taking advantage of historically low rates and historically high home equity to get a cash out refinance. Past clients of mine had decided that they plan to live out their days in their home but wanted to tap into their equity to make home improvements to provide features that will benefit them as they age.

What was great is that even though they had a good rate from a previous transaction, it made all the sense in the world for them to refinance rather their mortgage taking out more than $100,000 with a new rate — which was lower than the one they had, even though this was a cashout refinance.

Although they did have a lot

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Cheap money to access from home equity

Mortgage adviser: Liz Bayer, ProMortgage.

Property type: Single-family home in Berkeley.

Appraised value: $1.215 million.

Loan amount: $449,000.

Loan type: 30-year fixed.

Rate: 2.625%.

APR: 2.841%.

Backstory: I have a number of clients taking advantage of historically low rates and historically high home equity to get a cash out refinance. Past clients of mine had decided that they plan to live out their days in their home but wanted to tap into their equity to make home improvements to provide features that will benefit them as they age.

What was great is that even though they had a good rate from a previous transaction, it made all the sense in the world for them to refinance rather their mortgage taking out more than $100,000 with a new rate — which was lower than the one they had, even though this was a cashout refinance.

Although they did have a lot

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Home equity rates 2020 review and forecast

The year 2020 has been packed full of health and financial challenges for many Americans. Yet for home equity borrowers, there’s been some good news too. Interest rates are low, and the Federal Reserve has indicated that they’re likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future.



a living room filled with furniture and a large window: Home equity rates forecast for 2020


© Tom Merton/Getty Images
Home equity rates forecast for 2020

In many situations, leveraging the equity in your home can be a smart strategy. Home equity loans can help you accomplish big-ticket goals like paying for a child’s education, making major home improvements and consolidating higher-interest debt. Better yet, when you borrow against your home equity, you may be able to reach these goals at a low interest cost and without pulling money out of savings.

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Home equity rates in 2020: Initial predictions vs. reality

At the beginning of 2020, no one could have accurately predicted all of the events that

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6 ways to make your home equity work for you

Buy your home

To build home equity, you need to buy your home and quit renting. When you own your home, changes in real estate prices can help your equity increase over time. Under normal market conditions, home values appreciate every year. As the value of your home increases, so does the value of your home equity.

Consider an example in which you owe $200,000 on a home worth $250,000. Imagine that tomorrow, your home increases in value to $260,000. The value of your home equity increased from $50,000 to $60,000.

Any down payment you make when you first purchase your home also gives you equity.

Increase your mortgage payments

Another way to build your home’s equity is by making payments toward your mortgage. Unless you have an interest-only mortgage, every monthly mortgage payment you make gets split between interest and your principal balance. The portion that pays down principal

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Home equity surges as demand soars and mortgage rates hover near lows

After a brief stall in home sales at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, homebuyers came rushing back in — so fast that prices never even took a hit. In fact, the gains in prices accelerated quickly, causing home equity to soar even more.  

Home equity for homeowners with a mortgage rose 6.6% annually in the second quarter, according to CoreLogic. Collectively, that adds up to a gain of $620 billion, or $9,800 per home.

Home values have continued to rise and are now up 5.1% annually, according to Zillow. Price gains accelerated in 48 of the 50 largest metropolitan housing markets across the country.

The reason is twofold: Demand is outpacing supply by a lot, and mortgage rates are sitting near record lows. The latter gives buyers more purchasing power.

The total supply of homes for sale was just over 29% lower annually for the week ending Sept. 12,

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