28 Jul How to access your equity (and what to do with it)
Saving up the cash for a deposit on a second property can be just as difficult as saving for your first home. So how do property investors manage to get their hands on enough money to build a decent portfolio?
The answer is equity. It’s a hidden source of wealth that grows inside your property purchases over time. Equity is one of the biggest financial benefits of home ownership, a benefit that could allow you to turn your first home into a money tree that helps you finance property investment activities and build wealth for your future.
What is equity exactly?
Your equity is the difference between what your home is worth and what you owe on it. For example, if your property is worth $500,000 and you owe $400,000 then your equity is $100,000.
In order to calculate your equity position properly, you will need to establish the current market value of your home. You can do an estimate yourself by comparing your home to the price of similar homes that have sold in the surrounding area recently. If you would like a more accurate assessment of your home equity, you will need to obtain the services of a professional valuation expert.
How do you access your equity?
Once the equity in your home has increased, it may be possible to access it. Accessing your equity requires making an arrangement with a lender. There are several different ways you can go about accessing your equity. The options that are available to you will depend on your personal financial circumstances and goals, so you should talk with a professional mortgage broker about which method is right for you.
The two most popular options to access equity are to refinance your existing mortgage to extract a lump sum, or to establish a line of credit against the equity in your home. However, it should be noted that a lender will seldom allow you to borrow against all of the equity in your home, particularly if you still have a mortgage. They usually prefer to keep back at least 20% of the equity in your first home as security.
How can you grow your equity faster?
A popular strategy to grow equity quickly is to add value to your property. This can be achieved by renovating or expanding your home. You can often create quite large equity gains with a relatively small capital outlay and the equity increase occurs as soon as you have completed the project. Improving your property also tends to help it to continue to go up in value more readily over time – out dated properties, particularly run down properties, tend to experience less value growth because prospective buyers view them as fix-me-uppers and only want to pay a bargain price.
If your property is on a large block of land, you may even like to consider subdivision as a means of accessing the equity in your home. The subdivided block will acquire a value of it’s own, which you can borrow against to build. Or you can simply sell the block and access the funds.
What is the equity investment strategy?
When investing in property, time is your friend. Over time, the equity grows in your first property, which you can then use as a deposit to purchase a second property. This will mean that you now have two properties growing in value over time, which has the effect of growing your total equity position twice as fast. After a little more time passes, you can access more equity from the first two properties to invest in a third property, and so on.
Whilst you continue paying the mortgage on your first property yourself, your tenants pay the mortgages on your second property and any further properties you may purchase after that. Both the tenant’s financial contributions and home value growth in the marketplace continue to increase your total equity position. The more properties you own, the more quickly your total equity grows.
Are there any risks?
There are always risks associated with any kind of investment strategy. The danger is that you will borrow too much money and when interest rates go up, your tenant’s rental contributions will not cover your mortgage repayments and you may not be able to cover the difference from your own pocket. If a decline in property prices was to occur at the same time as an interest rate rise, you may find yourself in the position of having to sell off your properties at a considerable loss.
The way to mitigate these risks is to invest conservatively and always get the advice of a professional mortgage broker to help you determine how much you should borrow. They will help you take into consideration what could happen in the worst case scenario and help to make sure you don’t get caught out.
For more information about using the equity in your home to invest, please call us on 02 9633 5530. We’ll be happy to help you formulate an appropriate strategy that’s right for your personal financial situation and goals and help you to get started by helping you access your equity and by getting you pre-approval on an investment loan.