By Liz Weston
Housing prices can go down as well as up: Here’s when you should not tap home equity
This article is reprinted by permission from NerdWallet.
Soaring real estate values mean many homeowners are awash in equity — the difference between what they owe and what their homes are worth. The average-priced home is up 42% since the start of the pandemic, and the average homeowner with a mortgage can now tap over $207,000 in equity, according to Black Knight Inc., a mortgage and real estate data analysis company.
Spending that wealth can be tempting. Proceeds from home equity loans or lines of credit can fund home improvements, college tuition, debt consolidation, new cars, vacations — whatever the borrower wants.
But just because something can be done, of course, doesn’t mean it should be done. One risk of such borrowing should be pretty obvious: You’re putting your home at risk. If you can’t make the payments, the lender could foreclose and force you out of your house.
Also, as we learned during the Great Recession of 2008-2009, housing prices can go down as well as up. Borrowers who tapped their home equity were more likely to be “underwater” — or owe more on their houses than they were worth — than those who didn’t have home equity loans or lines of credit, according to a 2011 report by CoreLogic, a real estate data company.
Other risks are less obvious but worth considering.
Also see:Yes, it could happen to you. Like the water crisis in Jackson, Miss., other U.S. cities are vulnerable to climate-change disaster
You may need your equity later
Many Americans aren’t saving enough for retirement and may need to use their home equity to avoid a sharp drop in their standard of living. Some will do that by selling their homes and downsizing, freeing up money to invest or supplement other retirement income.
Other retirees may turn to reverse mortgages. The most common type of reverse mortgage allows homeowners 62 and up to convert home equity into a lump of cash, a series of monthly payments …….