In general the term "equity" refers to the difference in financial value between your assets and liabilities, and is often used in the context of trading stocks and shares and futures. An ordinary homeowner, however, can also have equity in terms of the value locked up in his property if it is now worth more than what he paid for it. Traditionally, over the last fifty years or so, property prices have been rising year on year, so that a three bedroom house bought in 1974 for 14,500, for example, could be sold in 1986 for £70,000. In the last few years though, things have not been quite the same due to the difficult world economic downturn and banking crises which have led to a fall in many people's homes' values. Some unfortunate people who bought a house in recent years may have seen its value drop and are now in a position of negative equity, but those who bought more than 10-20 years ago are probably sitting on positive equity with regard to their home's value.
Capital releases is an important asset for most people, because, in the long term it is likely that house prices will again rise, if only for the reason that demand tends to outstrip supply, and that pushes up prices. Your home is probably the largest investment you'll ever make and it is nice to think that, gradually over a period of years it will become worth more. The equity accrued could be useful to help fund your retirement or could be handed on to children as an inheritance.
For many people, the increasing value of their home over time is a way of saving, and if you think of it like that, it makes sense to look after your home, with adequate maintenance and repair, or even make improvements to your home which can markedly increase its value. (more...)