Steve Jovcevski’s 5 smart ways to give your home an equity boost
How much equity do you have in your home? Or maybe a better question is, do you have any at all? According to recent data from Roy Morgan Research, if you’re like 302,000 other Aussies, you don’t. And that can be a real problem.
Equity is the difference between your home’s value and how much you owe your mortgage lender, and not only is it satisfying to see it grow, it also puts you in a more secure financial position and can be used to fund goals like a holiday or new car.
There are two main ways to build up your equity – reduce your debt, or increase the value of your property. But that’s not always so easy – these days, homeowners need to be proactive and creative to see good results. To set you on the right path, here are my 5 top tips for an instant equity boost.
Work with what you’ve got to add extra living space
Putting an extra room in your house can increase the value of your property by 5%. So for a quick and cheap way to build equity in your home, try making extra living space out of what you already have, for example, by converting a dusty attic or unused basement into a bedroom or entertainment area.
This is a great idea for inner city houses where space is scarce – just make sure you check with your local council or a Certifier to see if there’s any legal approval you need to get first.
But a word of caution: bigger is not always better, and you should look at other homes in the area before getting carried away. Adding another bedroom to a one-bedder is nearly always a good move, but if you’re adding a fourth bedroom to a house and there are no other four bedroom houses in the area then the valuer may not be able to find other comparable sales and it might be lost effort.
Make smart improvements – not big ones
Think you have to spend thousands of dollars to renovate your home ? Think again. There are a heap of options for small, budget friendly changes to your property that can help increase its value and build equity over time.
Anything that improves the curb appeal of your home, from painting the front door, repairing exterior features like panelling or alucobond, or even just giving the windows a good scrub is a great bet. And don’t overlook landscaping – trimming unruly hedges can do wonders for a property’s appearance.
Other projects that can help build equity include replacing garage doors, a bathroom or kitchen revamp, or knocking out walls that block off the space inside your home.
Pay down your debt
Kill two birds with one stone by paying down your home loan debt. This will build equity while simultaneously getting you closer to owning your own home.
Many borrowers make monthly repayments, just because this is the default for most mortgages. But by changing your repayment frequency to every fortnight, you’ll make an extra repayment every year. That means you’ll pay off your debt quicker, save on interest and boost your equity.
You can also look into what extra features your home loan offers – if you have the ability to make fee free additional repayments, make sure you’re looking for opportunities to do so. Get a cash birthday present or a Christmas bonus? Put it toward your home loan.
Refinance your home loan
Speaking of clearing your home loan debt, how long has it been since you checked how competitive your interest rate is? Chances are, it’s time to review the deal you’re on – and if it’s not stacking up to the competition, it might be time to look at refinancing.
When you do so, look for a rock bottom interest rate, but don’t forget to keep an eye on things like the fees involved and the features on offer. Free extra repayments is a good one to have, as is a free redraw facility, a split account option and an offset account.
All these things will save you money on your home loan – as well as help you pay down your loan amount and build your equity.
Set the stage with a development approval
One of the fastest and most cost effective ways to boost your home’s equity is getting a development approval.
You’ll need to talk to a certifier or your local council to get the approval, but doing so is well worth the effort, because a property with development approval is a big drawcard for many investors who want to skip past what can be a lengthy and inconvenient application process.
Development approval can be secured for any number of alterations to your property – including extending the property or putting up a pergola – and how much equity it adds to your property will depend on what you get approval for. Generally speaking though, development approval can add 5-10% to the value of your property – and that’s without you having to take out a hammer or paintbrush at all.
Steve Jovcevski is Mozo’s property investment and lending expert. With an extensive knowledge of home loan products and property trends, Steve is full of practical tips to help first homebuyers, refinancers or investors build and get the most out of their property portfolio.