Refinancing a mortgage is a great way to take advantage of historically low interest rates or change your payment terms to be more affordable. And with interest rates at historical lows, there's never been a better time to refinance your mortgage. If you're planning to refinance your mortgage this winter, though, you'll want to make sure you get the best possible deal.
How can you make sure that your mortgage works for you, and not the other way around? Here's what you need to know.
Know What Your Break-Even Point Is
Your break-even point is the point at which the extra amount you paid out of pocket for the refinance and the amount you saved in a reduced interest rate is equal. In other words, it's the point at which a refinance actually starts saving you money – and it's important that you know when that point is. If you pay $5,000 in refinancing fees and your refinance reduces your monthly interest payment by $200, for instance, you'll break even after two years and one month.
Opt For a Shorter Loan Term, If Possible
Refinancing gives you the ability to turn a long mortgage into a short one. And although a shorter mortgage comes with higher payments, more of your monthly payment is applied to your principal. With a 30-year mortgage, for instance, you'll be paying mostly interest for the first 16 years – but with a 15-year mortgage, your payments will go mostly toward the loan principal after just five years.
Choose A Lender That Doesn't Charge Prepayment Penalties
A prepayment penalty is an amount of money you pay in order to pay off your mortgage early. If you experience a sudden windfall and can pay off your home in one lump sum, or if you choose to sell your home, you might incur a prepayment penalty. Thankfully, not all lenders have these penalties – so shop around and opt for a mortgage without a prepayment penalty.
Lock In Your Rate
Mortgage rates are at historical lows right now. One of the biggest reasons why people refinance their homes is to get lower interest rates – which is why, if you're refinancing your home, you'll want to choose a fixed rate mortgage. It'll keep your interest payments low and manageable, so you don't pay more than you have to.
Know Your Home's Current Fair Market Value
Housing prices rise and fall over time, which can impact your loan rate when you refinance. Higher-value homes generally get better rates, so make sure you know your home's fair market value.
Refinancing often means better mortgage terms, so make sure you take full advantage of this opportunity. Call a mortgage professional near you to learn more.