When Is Home Refinancing The Right Decision?

by Ned Dagostino

Saving money is always a good thing, but sometimes you’re already stretched so thin that it seems like there’s nowhere else to cut back. Perhaps now is the time to take a close look at your home loan. Home refinancing can be a great way to cut down on your monthly bills, but it can also end up costing you more than you save if you’re not careful. So when is it a good idea?

If your current loan has an adjustable rate, this is probably a good time to look into refinancing to a fixed rate loan. Chances are you’ll save money. Adjustable rate loans can be good if you get the loan when the rates are high. But in the current rate environment it doesn’t make sense. It could mean thousands of dollars in your pocket over the duration of the loan if you can simply lock in a low rate. Interest rates always go back up. When they do, you’ll still be locked in at the current low rate.

Another good time to refinance is if you have a balloon payment that will be due soon, and you simply don’t have the funds available. Finally, if your current mortgage has a rate higher than the current market, then seriously look into refinancing. Even a savings of 0.25% can make a huge difference over the course of a 30 year loan.

With all the potential good things refinancing can provide, there are some things you need to look at carefully before you go ahead with the deal. Refinancing costs money up front, and some of the closing costs can be pretty hefty. Once you know those costs, you need to see how long it will take you to get them back from the savings on your monthly bill.

The reason this is so important is because people rarely stay in one house for the duration of their loan. If moving is something you might be doing in the near future, you’re simply giving away money. You should be reasonably sure you’ll be in your current house at least long enough to make up what you spend in closing costs.

Also look at the potential pre-payment penalties on your new loan. Most new loans will have them, and the average cost is 2-5 years. If you will be moving and need to take out a new loan, this will be an expensive problem. It’s also a problem if you want the loan to be paid off early. So be sure to determine those pre-payment penalties and again, measure them against your monthly savings.

Lastly, be sure to take a close look at your monthly payment. Even with a lower rate your payment could go up if you plan on taking advantage of a cash out option. Sure you’ll have more money in your pocket right now, but your new loan will now have a higher balance. So even at a lower interest rate your payment could go up. Of course if the new rate is much lower, your payment may be lower even with a higher balance. This is a good situation to be in. You’ll have cash in your pocket and be making lower monthly payments as well.

Home refinancing can be a great way to cut down on your monthly expenses, and also give you some spending money if you need it. But doing it at the wrong time and under the wrong conditions can cost you money that we’re sure you don’t want to give away. Always check your savings against any fees and penalties, as well as other factors such as a potential move. If everything checks out in your favor, don’t just go with the first offer you receive. Shop around. You’ll be surprised at the difference in rates in terms that exist. And get recommendations from friends and relatives as well.

Good decisions can be extremely beneficial to your financial well being.

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