Equity is the magic word when it comes to homeownership. There are equity mortgages and other products that you can tap into when you’ve increased the value of your home. However, equity doesn’t grow on trees, so here are five tips for increasing your home’s equity:

  1. Pay off the principal: The quicker you pay off the mortgage principal, the more equity you build up. Look into acquiring prepayment privileges from your lender. Or if the prepayment penalty isn’t that great, it may make sense to pay off your principal as quickly as you can even if you’re penalized because you’ll be that much closer to getting an equity mortgage (or similar product).

  2. Hire an inspector: A certified home inspector will tell you how much your home is currently worth and what improvements are necessary to up its equity.

  3. Make upgrades to the kitchen and bathrooms: Get rid of old tiling, upgrade your appliances, get a new showerhead – do whatever it takes to upgrade your bathrooms and kitchen. Moreover, if you have an unfinished basement, finish it. You can even add a basement apartment if there’s enough room to have a full bath, kitchenette, bedroom and living area.

  4. Create more curb appeal: Curb appeal is how enticing your home is from the street. Ask yourself this: “When people drive by, do they stop and marvel at how beautiful my home is?” If the answer is no, then you have work to do. To create more curb appeal, make sure that your front door, roof, porch, windows – basically any area of the home that is visible from the street – is revamped or at least looks new. Manicure your lawn as well because overgrown hedges and grass can make a property look uninviting.

  5. Clean your house: A clean house is an attractive house. Even if you’re not planning on selling your house, hiring professional cleaners to clean your home’s eavestroughs, windows and doors can increase its equity. Make sure everything gets a deep clean, from the light fixtures to the furnace to the garage door. Another bonus of cleaning your house is that you can declutter. Getting rid of old clothes and boxes from your attic or garage will not only create space, it will make moving easier when/if you do sell your home.

Once you’ve put money back into your home, you can take money out of it. Equity mortgages are available that use the amount of equity built up in your home to determine how much you can borrow. You can also refinance or take out a HELOC (home equity line of credit).