As mortgage interest rates continue to hover in their record low three-to-four-percent range,Â millions of homeowners continue to wonder, "Should I refinance my mortgage?" Surprisingly, the availability of a lower rate is only part of the equation. Sometimes, you'd be better off applying the money toward your principal balance instead.Click to see your low-downpayment loan eligibility (Oct 23rd, 2017)
When you refinance, you pay off the existing mortgage loan and replace it with a new one. The property securing the mortgage remains the same; just the interest rate and terms on the new loan change.
Homeowners refinance for a variety of reasons, including:
The answer to the question, "Should I refinance?" depends on what you hope to accomplish by re-doing your mortgage, and whether refinancing nails that objective.
Refinancing is a good idea only when it will do what you want it to do. For instance, if you need to lower your monthly payment by $100 to afford your monthly expenses, and you can get that done with a refinance, it probably makes sense.
But if you're trying to reduce your overall mortgage expense, and refinancingÂ adds to that cost, you should probably pass. Our mortgage calculator with amortization schedule can help you figure this out.
For instance, suppose that you plan to sell your house and move in four years. You think you want to refinance your three-year-old, 30-year, $300,000 mortgage from its 4.00 percent rate to a 3.75 percent rate, at a cost of $5,400. The mortgage calculator tells you:
However, you must always consider the cost of refinancing when deciding if it makes sense.
If your objective was mainly to lower your payment, refinancing might make sense, but not if you're trying to cut your financing costs. You would have spent $8,643 to save $5,712 over four years.
If your goal was to cut mortgage costsÂ during the four years you plan to stay in your home, a 30-year fixed refinance might be the wrong loan. Suppose that you chose a 5/1 ARM, with a rate fixed for five years, instead.
You'd be able to get that 3.75 percent rate at no cost, so it would cost you $3,243 in lost equity, but you'd pay $5,712 less over four years, so you'd save money and still lower your payment by refinancing.
Sometimes, it may just make more sense toÂ use your refinancing dollars to pay down your principal balance.
If, for instance, you used your $5,400Â to lower the loan balance to $278,096, in four years, your remaining balance would be $251,271. That's over $10,000 lower than it would be if you'd refinanced.
And if you kept your loan for its lifetime, you'd pay it off ten months sooner.
Which is great if your objective is to pay less interest, or repay your loan sooner. But you were trying to reduce your payment. Can you lower your payment without refinancing?
Yes, you can.
Your loan servicer may be willing to re-amortize your mortgage after your principal reduction. This is also called "re-casting" your home loan. The lender takes your principal reduction and then re-calculates your payment based on the remaining years of your home loan and the remaining balance. In this case, your new payment would be $1,405 a month.
Lenders have rules about re-casting. For one, you can't do it with government-backed loans. And some lenders have minimum principal reductions you must make in order to qualify for re-casting. For instance, $5,000 or ten percent of the loan balance. It usually costs about $250 to re-amortize your mortgage.
One of the easiest ways to answer the question of whether it pays to refinance is based on how long you intend to live in your current home.
Usually, the lessÂ time you intend to stay in your home, the less benefit you'll get from aÂ refinance.
Itâ€™s important to note, however, that according to the National Association of Realtors, homeowners are staying in their homes much longer these days.
Itâ€™s used to be six to seven years that the average U.S. homeowner would move. Since 2008, however, the average tenure jumped to 10 years. As such, refinance benefits may become more likely.
One other important note, though. With homeowners staying in their homes for longer periods of time, â€śserial refinancersâ€ť tend to pop up more often.
These folks need to make sure theyâ€™re making the best financial decisions according to their situations, and not just getting caught up in the â€śI donâ€™t want to miss outâ€ť mindset.
Today's mortgage rates are still so low that refinancing might make sense for you now, even if it did not a year ago. For one thing, your plans may have changed, and you might be able to consider a 5/1 ARM or 15-year fixed with lower a interest rate.
Check with several competing lender to make sure that you're getting the best deal.Click to see your low-downpayment loan eligibility (Oct 23rd, 2017)
The information contained on The Mortgage Reports website is for informational purposes only and is not an advertisement for products offered by Full Beaker. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not reflect the policy or position of Full Beaker, its officers, parent, or affiliates.
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