Real Estate & Construction Law
— Re-Financing a Home —
Should I refinance my home?
If you are a homeowner who was lucky enough to buy when mortgage rates were low, you may have no interest in refinancing your present loan. But perhaps you bought your home when rates were higher. Or perhaps you have an adjustable rate loan and would like to obtain different terms.
Should you refinance?
This web page will answer some questions that may help you decide. If you do refinance, the process will remind you of what you went through in obtaining the original mortgage. That’s because, in reality, refinancing a mortgage is simply taking out a new mortgage. You will encounter many of the same procedures and the same types of costs-the second time around.
Would Refinancing Be Worth It?
Refinancing can be worthwhile, but it does not make good financial sense for everyone. A general rule of thumb is that refinancing becomes worth your while if the current interest rate on your mortgage is at least 2 percentage points higher than the prevailing market rate. This figure is generally accepted as the safe margin when balancing the costs of refinancing a mortgage against the savings.
There are other considerations, too, such as how long you plan to stay in the house. Most sources say that it takes at least three years to realize fully the savings from a lower interest rate, given the costs of the refinancing. (Depending on your loan amount and the particular circumstances, however, you might choose to refinance a loan that is only 1.5 percentage points higher than the current rate. You may even find you could recoup the refinancing costs in a shorter time.)
Refinancing can be a good idea for homeowners who:
- want to get out of a high interest rate loan to take advantage of lower rates. This is a good idea only if they intend to stay in the house long enough to make the additional fees worthwhile.
- have an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) and want a fixed-rate loan to have the certainty of knowing exactly what the mortgage payment will be for the life of the loan.
- want to convert to an ARM with a lower interest rate or more protective features (such as a better rate and payment caps) than the ARM they currently have.
- want to build up equity more quickly by converting to a loan with a shorter term
- want to draw on the equity built up in their house to get cash for a major purchase or for their children’s education
If you decide that refinancing is not worth the costs, ask your lender whether you may be able to obtain all or some of the new terms you want by agreeing to a modification of your existing loan instead of a refinancing.
Should You Refinance Your ARM?
Is the next interest rate adjustment on your existing loan likely to increase your monthly payments substantially? Will the new interest rate be two or three percentage points higher than the prevailing rates being offered for either fixed-rate loans or other ARMs?
If the current mortgage sets a cap on your monthly payments, are those payments large enough to pay off your loan by the end of the original term? Will refinancing to a new ARM or a fixed-rate loan enable you to pay your loan in full by the end of the term?