Homeowners’ best, worst reasons to tap home equity

The first step to switching banks is to open an account at your new banking institution. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/sureeporn)

WASHINGTON — Tapping into a home’s equity isn’t necessarily about keeping up with the Joneses. Sometimes, it’s about keeping up with the bills.

According to most of the homeowners surveyed by Bankrate.com, about 74 percent think making home repairs is an acceptable reason to borrow against home equity, with 57 percent saying it’s the best reason.

The majority of those who believe home repairs are an acceptable reason to borrow against home equity are Baby Boomers, or those between the ages of 54 and 72.

The next most popular reason to access equity include debt consolidation, education expenses, other investments, and purchasing durable goods such as household appliances and furniture.

About 22 percent of millennials surveyed said keeping abreast of household bills is a good reason to borrow against home equity, as opposed to 12 percent of folks who are older.

Homeowners who earn less than $30,000 a year are more likely to say it’s fine to tap into that money to pay regular household bills than those with incomes of $75,000 or more a year.

“This further exemplifies the importance of having an emergency fund, so when the unexpected happens — and it will happen — there is a savings cushion to fall back on,” Bankrate.com Chief Financial Analyst Greg McBride said in a news release.

Those surveyed by Bankrate.com say the least popular reasons to tap into home equity include funding vacations, buying a boat and plastic surgery.

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