Robert Ross' Blog
Buying your first home is a big decision; one that involves a lengthy process of saving money, building credit, and planning the next phase of your life. However, owning a home comes with one major payoff: home equity.
Simply put, home equity is the amount of your home that you’ve paid off. However, it does get more complicated when we bring in factors like the market value of your home and how it shifts over the years.
In this article, we’ll discuss home equity and what it means for you as a homeowner. This way, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect when you finally make that last payment on your home or when you decide to sell.
Home equity and market value
As I mentioned earlier, home equity is more than just the amount you’ve paid toward your mortgage. Like most markets, the housing market shifts over time.
Most homes slowly increase in value over time. In the real estate world, this increase in value is called appreciation.
However, that doesn’t mean that your home is simply going to increase in value indefinitely until you decide to sell. As you will find out (if you haven’t yet already), owning a home can be expensive. Houses age and require upgrades. If you fail to keep up with the maintenance of your home, its value can diminish.
How to build equity
The most important thing you can do to build equity is to make on-time payments to your mortgage. Making extra mortgage payments will help you build equity even faster.
One method of paying extra on your mortgage that many people are adopting is to make bi-weekly payments. Twenty-six bi-weekly payments comes out to 13 full payments per year, the equivalent of making one full extra monthly payment.
The second method of building equity is something that you have less control over: appreciation. However, if you stick to a maintenance schedule for your home and keep it in good repair, you’ll most likely benefit from appreciation over the lifespan of your mortgage.
What can I use home equity for?
The most common way to use home equity is as a down payment or full payment on your next home. First-time buyers who don’t have a 20% down payment saved often buy a starter home and then later upgrade as their family grows and their needs change. In the years that they own their first home, they build enough equity to make a full down payment on their second home, avoiding fees like mortgage insurance.
Many homeowners planning on retiring in the near future use their equity toward their retirement home, often turning a profit in the process. If you plan on downgrading for retirement and have fully paid off your mortgage, you can often use your equity to pay for your next home in cash.
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Want to buy a house? If you plan ahead for the homebuying journey, you may be better equipped than ever before to reap the benefits of a seamless homebuying experience.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you prepare for the homebuying journey.
1. Figure Out Where You Want to Live
Do you prefer the hustle and bustle of the big city? Or, would you like to reside in a small town? Think about where you want to live, and you may be able to speed up the homebuying journey.
A homebuyer who narrows his or her search to houses in a set number of cities and towns may be able to quickly discover the ideal residence. Thus, if you know where you want to go, you can act fast to pursue your dream house. And once you find your dream home, it may be only a few weeks before you can finalize a home sale.
2. Obtain a Mortgage
A mortgage generally is a must-have for a homebuyer, regardless of where he or she decides to live. If you submit a mortgage application before you embark on the homebuying journey, you can enter the real estate market with a budget in hand.
Oftentimes, it won't take long to get pre-approved for a mortgage. You can meet with a variety of banks and credit unions, and these financial institutions can teach you about a wide array of mortgage options. Next, you can select a mortgage that satisfies your personal requirements.
When you meet with banks and credit unions, don't hesitate to ask plenty of questions, either. If you receive expert mortgage insights, you can make an informed mortgage decision that likely will serve you well for years to come.
3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent
Let's face it – pursuing a home should be a quick, easy process, but problems may arise that prevent you from buying your ideal residence. Thankfully, real estate agents are available in cities and towns nationwide, and these housing market professionals can help you make your homeownership dreams come true.
A real estate agent is a housing market expert who can teach you how to discover a terrific house at a budget-friendly price. This housing market professional can explain the differences between a buyer's and seller's market and help you map out a successful homebuying journey. That way, you may be able to improve your chances of acquiring a superb residence if you hire a reliable real estate agent.
In addition, a real estate agent will serve as your guide along the homebuying journey. He or she will keep you up to date about new residences that become available, set up home showings and help you submit homebuying proposals. And if you ever have homebuying concerns or questions, a real estate agent is available to respond to them.
Achieve the best-possible results during the homebuying journey – use the aforementioned tips, and you can plan ahead to acquire your ideal residence.
Many Americans who purchased their home when they had lower credit, a shorter employment history, and less money stand to gain from refinancing their mortgages. However, most miss out on this opportunity or don’t realize it in time to save potentially thousands in interest payments.
According to recent data, 5.2 million Americans could save, on average, $215 per month if they refinanced their loan. But many homeowners are hesitant to refinance.
Whether it’s because of the inconvenience, the cost of refinancing, the worries about something going wrong, or uncertainty about whether they’ll actually save money if they go through the process, millions of homeowners are missing out.
So, in this article, we’re going to talk about some reasons it may be a good idea for you to refinance. If you’re one of the millions of Americans with a mortgage who are thinking about refinancing, this post is for you.
Riding the wave of the economy
Interest rates on home loans are historically low right now. As a result, homeowners can save by refinancing simply due to changing tides of the real estate market. Although mortgage rates have increased slightly over the past two years, they’re still on the low end, so this could be your last chance to save.
To consolidate your debt
Credit cards, auto loans, and other forms of debt can add up quickly. If you have a high-interest rate on your other debts, refinancing could be a good way to consolidate and save.
This can be achieved through a home equity loan or by refinancing with a cash-out option. This means you refinance your mortgage for more than you currently owe and take the remainder in cash to pay off your other debts with high-interest payments.
Typically, you need to have at least 20% equity (or have paid off 20% of your mortgage) to be eligible for this option.
Small percentages count for more now
It was once said that refinancing only made sense if you would receive a lower interest rate of at least 1-2%. However, with the prices of homes increasing over the years, sometimes even a small change, such as .75% is enough to save you substantial money on your repayment.
You’re able to repay early
One of the best ways to save on a home loan is by refinancing to a shorter term. Going from a 30-year loan to a 15-year loan can save you thousands. There are several calculators available for free online that will enable you to estimate how much you could save by refinancing to a 15-year mortgage.
You got a raise
One of the best times to refinance is when you can be certain that you can afford to pay off your loan sooner. As people progress in their career, it isn’t uncommon for them to refinance their loan so that they can spend more each month but save in the long run.
Since you have a higher income, and likely higher credit, you can also refinance a variable rate loan to lock in a lower fixed rate.