Is Now the Time to Refinance?

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Wed, Feb 25 - 6:57 am EDT | 5 years ago by
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I know everyone is all about whether now is the time to buy, but I’ve already got a house. So, of course, my current concern is whether or not to refinance. Here my refinancing considerations:

  1. A lower interest rate would mean less money paid over all.
  2. If I kept a 30-year mortgage, my monthly payments would be much lower. I could invest the difference.
  3. I could refinance to a 20-year mortgage or a 15-year mortgage, gaining equity faster and paying less interest overall.
  4. On the down side, I might have to pay loan origination and other fees, depending on who I refinance with. (Prepayment penalties are not an issue; I won’t have any.)
  5. Will I even qualify for a mortgage refinance? We did just buy a car, and we’ve only been in the house for a year and half.

Refinancing: Rule of thumb

The rule of thumb on refinancing is that you should refinance when the going mortgage rate is at least 1% below what you are currently paying. And with rates where they are at, we’re pretty close to that. Our rate is 6.02%, and last week’s rate was 5.04% for a 30-year fixed. 15-year rates are even lower. So it’s looking like it might be a good time refinance. Unfortunately, we haven’t been in our home very long (about 18 months) and we just bought a car. We may not get approval.

But I’m going through the checklist anyway. I want to see if refinancing would be a good idea, so I’m doing my research on refinancing, and on our situation. I’m really liking the 20-year mortgage thing. Using a mortgage refinancing calculator, I discovered that if we get a 15-year fixed mortgage, we would be paying about $200 more per month with a 4.86% interest rate, but save about $19,000 in interest. With a 20-year fixed mortgage, at 4.96% interest, we would actually be paying about the same amount as we are now. And we’d save more than $16,000 in interest. I’ve been leaning toward a 20-year lately, because I don’t know if I want to add another $200 obligation on top of that new-acquired car payment.

Fees and the erosion of refinancing savings

Of course, if there are fees to pay, the savings will be eroded. I think, though, if I call around (especially to the credit union we belong to), I could probably get away with avoiding loan origination fees, appraisal fees, credit check fees and documentation fees. Some of the local banks are really looking to attract business. And even with paying some of the fees, we’d still be saving thousands over the life of the mortgage.

Of course, we still have to get approved. But I think I’ll at least go talk to someone about it. After all, these rates are a once-in-a-lifetime chance.

What do you think? Is now the time to refinance?

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  • Jim

    Now is the best time in the past 50 years to buy a house. It doesn’t mean they won’t get cheaper, but this is a great time to buy as long as your personal finances are sound and you can afford the payments.

    As far as refinancing goes, if you can get an interest rate under 5%, take it. If the economy improves at all and once these deficits really kick in, rates are going much higher. Maybe not James Earl Carter high, but significantly higher than they are today.

  • Miranda Marquit

    That’s what I’ve been thinking. There will be few opportunities like this to cash in on low interest rates. For those who are ready, this recession is actually providing a number of opportunities.

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