Mortgage

Here’s how people use their home equity

Survey reveals 44% would use it to consolidate debt

The amount of tappable equity available to American homeowners recently smashed records by surpassing $6 trillion. And while recent data shows many Americans are holding back on accessing what may be their greatest source of wealth, some are using it, and you might be surprised to hear what they’re spending it on.

A recent survey by Bankrate.com revealed that most homeowners think funding home improvements and repairs is an acceptable use of home equity. Of the various age groups represented in the survey, Baby Boomers were more likely to pinpoint renovations as the best use of their equity.

But the second most popular use of home equity was debt consolidation, with 44% of respondents saying this was a good reason to withdraw cash from their house.

Furthermore, 22% of Millennials said it was OK to use home equity to pay for day-to-day expenses, while only 12% of older homeowners agreed with this strategy.

“The idea that nearly 1 in 6 American homeowners views ‘keeping up with regular household bills’ as an appropriate reason to borrow from home equity speaks to how far some households are stretched on a monthly basis,” said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com.

While home equity withdrawals hit the lowest level in four years in Q1 of 2018, according to Black Knight data, McBride predicts that usage will climb.

“With the sorry state of emergency savings and increasing levels of consumer debt in a rising interest rate environment, it is a matter of when, not if, more homeowners turn to home equity to fund home improvements and repairs or consolidate debt,” McBride said.

“Many Americans may have more tappable equity than they realize,” McBride added, “and as home values increase and mortgage principal is paid down, that equity is on the rise.”

Here are the expenses respondents cited as favorable uses for their home equity:

 

 

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