This paper uses micro-data from two national panel surveys to analyze the flow of wealth from residential property onto households' balance sheets, where it is available for discretionary spending. The examples are Australia and the UK, two of the world's most entrenched nations of owner occupation, both with relatively complete mortgage markets. We focus on the early 2000s, which set the scene for an unprecedented wave of housing equity withdrawal. We consider equity released through sales and through additional borrowing. The findings show that equity extraction overall is not only (or even) a function of higher incomes, greater wealth, and older age; rather it occurs across the life course and is linked to pressing spending needs. We draw attention in particular to the growing social and economic significance of in situ equity borrowing?a practice whose financial buffering effects may form a short-lived prelude, rather than a sustainable alternative, to trading on or selling up
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