Refinancing your home mortgage is a major financial decision, but it’s also one that has the potential to save you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan. Refinancing your mortgage can help you to pay less every month, pay your mortgage loan at a faster rate, or perhaps even save your home if you can’t afford your current payments.
A Good Time to Refinance
The general advice given by most financial advisors is to refinance your home when you can a rate can be obtained that is at least one percentage point below your current rate. Depending on the amount of your mortgage, this one point difference in your home refinance rate can save you hundreds of dollars every month. Even people with small mortgages are likely to save almost $100. That’s a significant enough savings to make it worth the hassle of going through a refinance. Of course, the problem with this advice is that it’s too general. While it’s true that it only makes sense to refinance when rates are significantly lower than what you are currently paying, it is also important to consider some other factors.
Start by thinking about how long you want to own your current home. Typically, refinancing a mortgage comes with thousands of dollars in fees. In order to save more money with a lower interest rate than you would pay in fees, most people have to make payments for at least two years. That means if you plan on selling your house in under two years, it probably doesn’t make sense to refinance. On the other hand, if you know you’re going to be living in or renting out the property for a long time, refinancing as soon as possible is probably a good decision.
Next, think about your current financial situation. Too many people use refinancing as a way to pull equity out of their home in order to have money to spend on things they don’t really need. Refinancing should not be used as a way to obtain low-interest cash unless there is a real need for the money. Think of pulling out money as a last-resort emergency fund, not as a piggy bank for a new swimming pool.
Words of Caution
At the same time, if you truly need the money, be careful about using home refinancing to obtain it. If you have little or no equity in your home, refinancing your mortgage is going to be very difficult, if not impossible. Furthermore, you need to be careful to make sure that you are actually saving money when you refinance.
The best reason to refinance is to take advantage of a lower interest rate, not pull money from your home equity. If you need to lower your bills, for example, it’s important to make sure that you are not paying a higher interest rate. If you need to take money out of the home for bills or other living expenses, make sure that the new interest rate is lower than a home refinance rate you can find elsewhere.
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