Understanding Home Equity
Home equity…Everybody wants it, but what exactly is it, and how do you get it?
Equity represents the degree of ownership an individual or entity has in an asset after subtracting any debts against the asset. To say someone shares equity in a company means they would share in any assets remaining after all debts are accounted for.
For example, if your business has sold $500,000 worth of product this year, but you have rent, operating expenses, and a business loan payment totaling $400,000 for the year, you have $100,000 of equity in your business. Equity changes as the value of your assets and debts change.
Home equity works the same way. When you take out a mortgage to purchase a home, your home is collateral on the mortgage loan, so the outstanding mortgage principal must be deducted from the value of the home to determine your home equity.
In most cases, you make a down payment when you purchase your home. That down payment is your initial home equity. If you pay a 20% down payment on a $200,000 home, you have $40,000 equity when you close on your purchase.
As time goes on and you continue to pay down your mortgage principal, your equity grows. Usually, the longer your own your home, the more equity you gain because you are paying down your mortgage. However, any debts you take on using your home value as collateral, such as a second mortgage or home equity line of credit (HELOC,) decrease your home equity.
The changing real estate market also influences your equity. If you paid $200,000 for your home, and two years later the homes in your neighborhood start selling in the $400,000 range, your theoretical equity increases. (Theoretical because you don’t realize your home equity until you sell your home and pay off all debts against it.) You can also lose equity if the market takes a dive but be patient and it should recover in time.
Equity also grows if you make improvements on your home that increase its value. Let’s say you add a swimming pool and all new appliances. You have increased the value of the home. Your equity doesn’t increase by the amount your spent on the improvements, but on the value you get upon resale. This is an important point when considering making improvements prior to putting your home on the market, and one that is often misunderstood.
Let’s say Joe spends $50,000 on upgrades to his home. He might tell his neighbor, “I have $50,000 in my home,” but when he goes to sell, the current market dictates how much he will actually get in return. If Joe ends up selling for $40,000 more than he originally paid, his $50,000 investment got him $40,000 in home equity.
Some things you can do to increase your home equity include:
1) Make a large down payment when you purchase your home. The more cash you put down, the more equity you begin with.
2) Make increased or extra payments on your mortgage principal. Adding to the principal portion only on your monthly payments, or making extra payments when you are able, helps chip away at your outstanding debt.
3) Be smart when making home improvements. Not all improvements build equity. Some improvements may be personal preferences that don’t necessarily add value for resale. Improvements such as a new HVAC system, new appliances, or a new roof are usually more reliable investments than a fountain in the front yard or surround sound speakers throughout the house.
4) Don’t borrow against your home equity unless you must. Home equity is often a homeowner’s biggest asset, and can help to build your retirement nest egg, but it can also come in handy if life throws you a curve ball and you need to borrow against it for an unforeseen emergency. Be careful not to borrow against your equity for frivolous purposes, so it will be there if you really need it.
5) Sell when the market is favorable. If you are counting on your home equity to help finance your next home, pay for your children’s education, or add to your retirement funds, try to sell during a seller’s market when inventory is needed in your area.
Approximately 58% of homebuyers say they’d be willing to purchase a haunted house — and nearly 25% think they already have.
According to a Real Estate Witch survey powered by the real estate transaction site Clever, nearly 70% of Americans believe in the paranormal, with about 60% of people claiming they’ve experienced a supernatural event themselves. As many as one in four Americans even say they’ve seen a ghost.
Millennials are the most likely to shack up in haunted homes, with 63% saying they would consider buying a haunted house and 30% saying possible paranormal activity wouldn’t deter their decision at all.
Additionally, the survey found that of people who believe their home is haunted, nearly one-third of those people knew the home was haunted prior to moving in.
Fewer people today believe their home is haunted than in 2021. However, 69% of buyers claim they would consider buying a home with ghostly roommates for a lower price.
On the flip side, two-thirds of sellers shared that they would only disclose hauntings under certain circumstances (for instance, if asked directly by clients). About 8% said they would refuse to disclose the information, even if it was required by law to do so.
While paranormal occurrences can be scary for homeowners, the survey also found that ghost activity is pretty far down on the list of buyers’ concerns. Issues like unexpected costs, bad neighbors, financial insecurity and house fires are far more likely to frighten buyers in this market.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could pay off your mortgage early? Might sound like a pipe dream, but it’s not impossible. In fact, 37% of U.S. homeowners are living mortgage-free. Why shouldn't you be one of them??
Just because you opted for a 30-year mortgage doesn’t mean you actually have to spend the next 30 years paying it off! Here are three hacks to knock it out early:
Hack #1: Make an extra payment every year. Simply divide your mortgage payment by 12 and add that amount to your principal each month.
Hack #2: When your income increases, don’t increase your spending. If you get a raise, it’s tempting to bump your spending along with it. Instead, keep the same budget and put the extra towards your mortgage.
Hack #3: Put surprise money towards your mortgage. Any time you get extra $$$ from a tax return, bonus, inheritance, refund check, or whatever else it may be, toss it to your mortgage. You won’t miss it, and the future you will thank you.
The final walk-through on your new home is an exciting event. It means you have successfully maneuvered through negotiations, inspections, and financing approval, and are on the verge of signing your closing papers. Most buyers attend the final walk-through with thoughts of furniture placement and paint colors in their heads. But the walk-through is about more than just making sure your favorite chair will fit by the fireplace. Be sure to do your due diligence to make sure there are no issues that should be resolved before you reach the closing table.
The purpose of the final walk-through is to ascertain that the home is being conveyed to you in the same condition it was when you agreed to purchase it. Here are a few of the things you should check:
1) Make sure no damage has occurred to the home that the sellers are responsible for repairing. Weather conditions or careless movers can cause accidental damage, and old and forgotten damage may be uncovered when the sellers’ belongings are removed.
2) Check that appliances are still in working order and no new plumbing or electrical issues have popped up. While you aren’t doing a complete home inspection, you can visually check for obvious problems that should be repaired before you move in.
3) Confirm that items contractually conveying are present. If the sellers agreed to leave particular furniture, décor, or equipment, see that it has not been removed.
4) Make certain the sellers have removed all their belongings. You don’t want to arrive with the moving truck only to find out that the sellers left behind an assortment of unwanted furniture or trash. The sellers should be held responsible for removing everything that doesn’t convey with the sale.
Ready to buy your first home in Arizona in 2022? Casa Arizona Brokered by eXp Realty specializes in helping first-time home buyers like you find their dream property in the east valley.
Before you start searching for homes online, it's important to take the first step to house shopping: Getting pre-approved for a mortgage.
Your pre-approval will tell you what you can afford and what your monthly payment will be, so it's important to determine this before you start searching for your new home.
Pre-approval is good for about 30-90 days, so once you're ready, take these first 3 steps to get it done.
Before we hop into the home search, I like to advise my clients to create a "Needs" list and a "Wants" list. This will help us to really focus on the things that are most important in your future home.
Needs are the non-negotiable features; the features you simply must have in your next home. Wants are the ones you’d like to have, but you can add or change down the road. Remember, you can’t change the lot or the location so make sure you love both.
Once you've established what you're looking for, I will set you up on a search so you can receive an email the second a home that fits your criteria goes live. If you have any questions about a property, send me the information and I will find out for you. Send me listings you like and I can get more information and set up showings on your behalf.
After touring houses and choosing the one you love, it's time to make an offer. To do this, you'll need your pre-approval letter or proof of funds if you are a cash buyer. You'll also need to make an escrow deposit of at least 1-2% of the purchase price. This will go towards your closing costs at closing.
Have more questions about buying a home or what happens after making an offer? Reach out to me today!
If you are thinking about listing your home this fall, you might be concerned about showing it, and possibly having to move, over the holiday season. The holidays are already a busy time of year for most families, so you would be right to wonder if you are making a good decision by marketing your home between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Some sellers even take their homes off the market temporarily during the holiday season, but, before you make that choice, consider all the pros and cons to selling during this festive time of year.
1. Buyers are serious. Buyers looking for a home during the holiday season are usually serious about getting under contract, or else they’d put it off. Often, they are starting a new job at the beginning of the year, or they want to get their children registered in school by the end of the holiday break, or maybe they want the tax break in the current year. Regardless of their reasons, if they are out looking in November or December, they are serious buyers.
2. There are not as many homes on the market. As a seller, you benefit from having fewer homes on the market to compete with. Less inventory combined with serious buyers means sellers get higher offers.
3. You can take advantage of holiday season curb appeal. While it’s recommended that you not over-decorate while showing your home, you can take advantage of the warm and festive vibes that holiday decorations add. Some white twinkle lights, a wreath on the door, and poinsettias lining your porch can add just the right cozy and inviting feel to win over buyers.
4. Cooler weather may invigorate buyers. The only thing worse than house hunting in the dead of summer is moving and unpacking in the dead of summer. On the other hand, the cooler temperatures of the holiday season may fuel buyers' desire to get out on the hunt.
5. You can use a holiday theme to ramp up an open house. Instead of offering the same old plate of cookies and bottled water, let your prospective buyers feel the warmth of your home with a cup of hot chocolate and warm gingerbread in front of the fireplace, or let them wander through your rooms listening to holiday music and enjoying the scent of pine or cinnamon candles.
1. You won’t have as many lookers. We noted that buyers shopping during the holidays are serious ones, but there will definitely be fewer buyers looking than later in the New Year.
2. Showing your home may be more inconvenient. Again, it’s a busy time of year for most families, so do consider the inconvenience of having showings while you are preparing for the holidays or enjoying time off from school or work.
3. Business closings may slow down transactions. Many businesses have shortened hours or holiday closings, which means you or your buyers might have delays with such things as scheduling inspections and appraisals, clearing title or escrow payments, or getting repairs completed.
Is It a Good Idea To Sell in Fall?
The Greater Phoenix housing market is cooling, but it's far from cold. To put the last 6 months in perspective, From April to October, Supply is up 93%, However the count of active listings is still extremely low (45% lower than the pre-pandemic 2019 seller market & 68% below the last balanced market of 2014). Prices continue to rise. It's a good time to be a seller.
The early spring through the summer are generally the busiest times of the year for home sales, but the fall can be a particularly advantageous time of year for sellers. Housing inventory drops off during the fall months, so sellers have less competition. That means you can expect higher offers, fewer contingencies, and less scrutiny from buyers. You maintain more power over your terms.
Fall buyers are serious buyers! Early in the year you can get lots of lookers who are just thinking about buying at some point, but by fall the buyers still looking are ready to get under contract and often have a deadline. Many fall buyers are anxious to get settled before the holiday season and, if they have children in school, they will want to get them in their new schools before too much of the school year passes.
Employers who pay to relocate employees also like to shop off-season to save on moving costs. If you live near a large hospital, university, technology center, or industrial area, your home may be attractive to relocation services.
Fall is also prime time for buyers who aren’t shopping school districts. Young professionals and empty nesters are two populations more likely to shop in the fall. If you are marketing to these populations, you might want to show off multi-use spaces for exercise rooms, a home office, or game room.
The fall is much more fun for showing a home than the dead of summer. Use the mild weather and a festive atmosphere to enhance your home’s showing potential. As the temperatures cool and we welcome crisp, clear fall days, it becomes easier to maintain your yard and add to your curb appeal. You can use fall colors and foliage in your home décor to create a cozy atmosphere. Don’t forget some pumpkin spice scented candles or warm oatmeal cookies to warm buyers up for a sweet deal.
If you’re thinking about selling but can’t decide between listing now and waiting until after the holidays, now is the time. Give me a call, and let’s tie the whole process up in a pretty red bow long before the new year.
In a rapid-fire seller’s market, you need more than great finances and a quick-on-the-draw offer to land the home of your dreams. You need guts, grit, and every advantage to edge out the competition—even if your offer is thousands above asking.
Enter appraisal gap coverage.
Appraisal gap coverage affords a middle ground between including an appraisal contingency in your offer (drag!) and waiving it completely (agh!).
It sounds like an insurance policy, but it's not. It's strategic language in your purchase contract that states you’re willing to pay the difference between the appraised value and the contract price, up to a certain amount.
If a seller is studying two equal offers and one has appraisal gap coverage but the other offer doesn’t, they’ll go with the one with the gap coverage.
Have hopes of buying this fall but feel a tad hesitant? Let's have a conversation—I'd love the chance to guide you through the buying process and make sure your offer is the one on top!
Upsize or Downsize: Which is Your Best Move?
Deciding if it is time for your family to upsize or downsize is not always a clear choice. There are factors to consider that might push you to take the leap or stay put for a while longer. Whether you are thinking about upsizing so your family can spread out or purging possessions so you can downsize, here are some questions to ponder.
1. How are you using your current space?
Do your family members feel like they don’t have adequate privacy or space to do their own thing? Are you tired of working at the dining table and really need an office or workshop? Is having the kids share bedrooms just not working out? Maybe an upsize is warranted. On the other hand, do you have rooms that aren’t being used, or are you tired of paying property taxes on more house than you need? Check for the downsize column!
2. Have you considered the maintenance costs?
If upsizing is on your mind, consider the added costs for maintaining a larger home and property, whether in money or time. Will you be able to keep up with cleaning, lawn care, and general maintenance issues that come with owning a home? If you are ready to cross maintenance off your to-do list, perhaps you are ready to downsize to a more manageable property or one where the HOA handles part of the job.
3. What are your outdoor space needs?
Are you ready to give up having a yard or garden to downsize to a maintenance-free space? Do you have pets that need outdoor space? Do you need more outdoor space for your children to play or your dog to run around in? The size of the house is one thing, but the property is important also.
4. Have you looked to the future?
What do you expect your needs to be in the next five, ten, or twenty years? Do you want a large home where your children and grandchildren will come for vacations and holidays, or will you be spending those times at their homes? Will you want to entertain groups of friends, or do you foresee going out for your entertainment? What will happen if your spouse passes; will you want to stay in the home on your own?
5. Do the financial implications add up in your favor?
Can you handle the higher costs involved with a larger home, or are you ready to cut costs with a downsize? Consider where you stand on your current mortgage. Are you alright with starting a new mortgage at this point in your life, or are you in a position to purchase in cash? What are the tax implications for your move?
6. Is it the right market to upsize or downsize?
A seller’s market is hot for those looking to sell a larger home and downsize. Upsizing may be riskier in a big seller’s market, but if your family would be happier in a larger home, it might be worth the leap.
Whatever questions you have about purchasing your next home, I’d be honored to assist you. So let’s work together to make sure your next move is the right one.
Secrets To Selling for Top Dollar
The other day a friend asked if there's really a method to the madness for getting top dollar when selling.
Good news! There is. If you scooch in a little closer, I’ll pass along a few of my best-kept secrets (usually reserved exclusively for clients!).
There's lots more I could share but that's it for today. If you'd like to chat more about how you can get top dollar for your home, I'd love to connect. Call me today!
Erika Amezquita is a licensed Real Estate Agent in Arizona. She helps buyers find their dream home in highly competitive markets and homeowners sell for top dollar.