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Home or Investment Property Equity: Be Sure the Bank Gives You All that You Deserve

Home equity is your own personal money machine. If you want financial freedom, a home equity loan is probably the best way to achieve it. You can pay down credit cards, pay off cars, both at high interest rates, or you can actually use your home equity to invest and build the money into a fortune. The biggest problem people run into with home equity is that they don't have enough of it. Sometimes, the problem may be with your bank and not with your equity.

In order to know how much equity you have in your home, you must first know what you owe on your mortgage and then how much your home is worth. Here's the secret to getting the most equity out of your home or investment property. Let's say you own $100,000 on your home or investment property, and you believe it is valued at $150,000. If a bank will loan 90 percent of the value, they'll give you $135,000 minus what you owe, or a $35,000 equity loan.

But wait just a minute. Let's suppose the bank tells you that they believe your home is valued at $130,000. Now, they'll give you a home equity loan of just $17,000 (117k minus the 100k that you owe). That's a whopping 18k less than what you thought you were getting.

The answer? Educate your lender. This happened to me recently. The lender had my home valued at $15,000 less than I said it was. So, instead of giving up on my home equity loan, I simply educated the lender. I explained that I $25,000 in simple appreciation, based on the 4 percent that homes in my neighborhood receive. Then, I said I had $12,000 worth of improvements in the past two years. Finally, I asked for a complete appraisal, instead of the recent sales in the neighborhood that the bank was using. Now, this increased my closing costs a bit, but it was well worth it. In fact, a couple of days later, the lender called to inform me that the full appraisal came in $7,000 higher than the number I gave them. Now my equity loan was even bigger than I had originally hoped - 90 percent of 7k gave me an additional $6,300!

You see, our instinct is to always trust that the lenders and mortgage brokers know more than we do. In many cases, this is not true.

Mark Barnes is an investment real estate and real estate finance expert. Get his free mortgage finance course at Mark is also the author of the new novel, The League, a shocking, sports-related conspiracy. Learn more about his suspense thriller at

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