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What is Equity in a Mortgage?

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As a homeowner, you may have heard the term “equity” mentioned when discussing your mortgage, but what does it mean? Understanding equity is crucial for making informed decisions about your home and finances, especially if you’re considering options like remortgaging to release equity.

This article will explain what equity is, how it builds up, and how you can release it through remortgaging. By the end, you’ll have a clear grasp of how equity works and how it can benefit you.

What is Equity?

Equity in a mortgage refers to the difference between the current value of your home and the amount you owe on your mortgage. It represents the portion of your home that you own outright.

For example, if your home is worth £300,000 and you owe £150,000 on your mortgage, you have £150,000 in equity.

How Equity Builds Up

Equity can increase in two main ways: through mortgage repayments and property value appreciation.

  1. Mortgage Repayments: Every month, you make mortgage payments that include both interest and a portion of the principal amount borrowed. As you pay down the principal, your equity increases. In the early years of a mortgage, more of your payment goes toward interest, but as time goes on, a larger portion goes toward reducing the principal, thus building more equity.
  2. Property Value Appreciation: Over time, property values can increase due to market conditions, improvements made to the home, or general economic factors. If the value of your home rises, your equity increases even if your mortgage balance stays the same.

Why Equity is Important

Equity is a valuable financial asset. It can be leveraged in several ways to support your financial goals. Here are some key reasons why understanding and building equity is important:

  1. Financial Security: Higher equity provides a cushion against market fluctuations. If property values drop, having more equity reduces the risk of owing more than your home is worth.
  2. Borrowing Power: You can use your home equity to secure loans for other purposes, such as home improvements, education costs, or debt consolidation.
  3. Investment Opportunity: Equity can be a resource for investing in additional buy to let properties, helping you grow your real estate portfolio.
  4. Retirement Planning: For older homeowners, equity can be a crucial part of retirement planning, an equity release mortgage can provide funds to support living expenses or healthcare costs if income falls.

Releasing Equity Through Remortgaging

One common way to access the equity in your home is through remortgaging. Remortgaging involves switching your existing mortgage to a new one, either with your current lender or a new lender, often to get a better interest rate or to release equity. Here’s how it works:

  1. Assess Your Equity: First, determine how much equity you have in your home. This involves getting a current valuation of your property and subtracting your outstanding mortgage balance.
  2. Determine Your Needs: Decide how much equity you want to release and for what purpose. Common reasons include home improvements, paying off debts, funding education, or supporting retirement plans.
  3. Shop Around for Mortgage Deals: Look for mortgage deals that offer favorable terms for releasing equity. Consider factors like interest rates, fees, and repayment terms. An independent mortgage broker like us can help you compare different offers and find the best deal for your personal situation. If you are self-employed or have bad credit, then there will be options available to you to release equity.
  4. Apply for the New Mortgage: Once we’ve recommended a remortgage deal, you’ll need to apply. This involves providing documentation about your income, employment, and the value of your home. The lender will assess your application to ensure you can afford the new mortgage.
  5. Complete the Remortgage Process: If your application is approved, the lender will pay off your existing mortgage and replace it with the new one. You will receive the equity amount you decided to release, minus any fees or costs associated with the remortgage. A remortgage application is usually faster than a mortgage as the legal work is heavily reduced.

Benefits of Releasing Equity

Releasing equity through remortgaging can provide several benefits:

  1. Home Improvements: Many homeowners use the released equity to fund renovations or upgrades, which can increase the value of their home and improve their living conditions. Often, customers choose this option as an alternative to moving home.
  2. Debt Consolidation: Using home equity to pay off high-interest debts can save money on interest and simplify your finances by consolidating multiple payments into one. A debt consolidation remortgage is not without risk though and independent mortgage advice is vital to ensure you understand the risks involved fully.
  3. Financial Flexibility: Accessing equity can provide additional funds for significant expenses, such as education, weddings, or starting a business.
  4. Supporting Retirement: For older homeowners, releasing equity can supplement retirement income, helping to maintain a comfortable lifestyle without having to sell the home.
  5. Anything else: There could be various other reasons why a homeowner would like to release equity, maybe something more complex.

Risks and Considerations

While releasing equity can offer many benefits, it’s essential to consider the potential risks and drawbacks:

  1. Increased Debt: By taking out a larger mortgage, you’re increasing your overall debt, which can affect your financial stability if your circumstances change. If you have consolidated debts, you will have taken unsecured credit and secured them against your home, in the event of non-payment your home may be repossessed.
  2. Interest Costs: Although you might get a lower interest rate, extending the mortgage term or increasing the loan amount means you’ll pay more interest over the life of the mortgage.
  3. Property Value Fluctuations: If property values decrease, the equity you released might be less than expected, potentially leading to negative equity if you owe more than your home is worth.
  4. Repayment Challenges: Ensure you can afford the new mortgage payments. Failing to keep up with repayments can lead to financial difficulties and even the risk of losing your home.


Equity in a mortgage is a powerful financial tool that can help you achieve various financial goals. Understanding how equity builds up and how you can release it through remortgaging is essential for making informed decisions.

By carefully considering your needs and the available options, you can leverage your home equity to improve your financial situation, whether it’s through home improvements, debt consolidation, or supporting your retirement.

If you’re considering releasing equity from your home, an independent mortgage broker like us can help you navigate the process, find the best mortgage deals, and ensure you make the right choice for your circumstances.

Contact us today for a free, no-obligation mortgage consultation to explore your options and start making the most of your home equity.

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