Equity is the value that you have in your house - or what you would receive after expenses if you sold the house. The market plays a big role in your equity - rising home prices equals rising equity, and vice versa - but there are lots of things you can do to build equity and pay down your mortgage. It's a great feeling to a home that is paid for! Here are the steps to get you there:

* Pay more than what is due. If you add just an extra $100 or $200 a month to your payment, the extra funds get added to your principal, making your total interest due less and taking years off your mortgage. I can run an amortization schedule for you to show you exactly how fast it would work on your particular loan.

* Make biweekly payments. If you are paid on a biweekly basis, this may work best for your budget. Ask the lender before you get the loan if this is something they can set up for you, as they may charge a fee to set it up afterward. Making 26 "half" payments a year adds one extra payment a year that can go toward shaving down your principal.

* Shorten your term. If you get a 15 year loan instead of a 30 year, your interest rate will be lower and of course you will pay the loan off in 15 years. But the payments are higher. You can also take a 30 year loan, and make payments as if it were a 15 year - giving you the flexibility to make the lower payments if you need to.

* Make a larger down payment. The more you put down initially, the more equity you will have right off the bat. But a larger down payment can mean a lower interest rate over the life of your loan. Over time, that lower rate means less interest paid and more equity accrued for you.

* Make smart home improvements and keep up with maintenance. A home that is continually maintained and updated will sell for more than similar homes when you are ready to sell, putting more money in your pocket at that time.

Do you want to learn more about making the most of your real estate investments? Call or text Wendi at 928-713-5136.