According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, mortgage refinances are expected to reach $1.93 trillion in 2009, while new mortgage originations will reach about $825 billion. The prime factors behind the drive to refinance are the rising rates of unemployment, new programs by Freddie and Fannie Mae, and actions made by the Federal Reserve.
With the Federal Reserve constantly working to keep interest rates low, and programs available that encourage homeowners to refinance their mortgages, this may be the best time to refinance a high-priced mortgage. This may also be the best time to refinance a mortgage for a longer term. While refinancing your mortgage for a longer term may substantially increase the total amount of a mortgage, it will greatly lower monthly payments. It is important to sit down and reassess you financial situation to decide if you refinancing your home mortgage is an option for you.
Time-in On Your Mortgage before Refinancing
While there is no definite rule about how long you have to hold a mortgage before attempting to refinance, time may play a significant role. If you had to accept a higher-than-optimal interest rate because of past bad credit, for instance, and are counting on your improved credit rating to get you lower interest rates on a refinance, you should wait at least six months before refinancing. Six months is about how long it takes most lenders to start reporting your payment history to the credit bureaus.
The timing of a mortgage refinance is a delicate balancing act. The longer you continue paying the higher interest rate, the more it will cost you, but the longer you make regular payments on your mortgage, the better your credit score will look when you do apply to refinance your mortgage.
Another effect that time has on your ability to refinance is that the longer you pay on your mortgage, the higher equity you will have in your home. This is important because it will determine whether or not a lender will consider refinancing your mortgage. First, you will need to calculate how much equity you have in your home. It is actually not difficult to figure out your equity on your own. You first need to find out how much your home is currently worth, and then subtract the amount you still owe on your mortgage. For example, if your home is worth $100,000 and you still owe $60,000 on your mortgage, then your home equity is $40,000 or 40%.
Once you have that figure, you can research the type of mortgage refinance that a lender will be willing to grant you. Most lenders require at least 5% to 10% equity to agree to refinance your mortgage from an adjustable rate to a fixed rate, or to change the length of your mortgage term. Thus, if you want to go from a 30 year to a 40 year mortgage, you should have at least 5% equity in your home.
How Long You Intend to Stay in Your Home
The other time factor that affects your decision to refinance your home mortgage is how long you intend to remain in your current home. Since you will incur closing costs and penalties for early loan repayment when you refinance your loan, it will take time for you to actually realize any savings on your refinanced mortgage. For example, if you currently are paying $660 a month on a 30 year $100,000 mortgage, you can lower your monthly payment to $590 a month by refinancing to a 30 year $100,000 mortgage, a savings of over $70 a month. If the loan closing costs and penalties for early repayment total $2,500, it will take at least thirty six months for you to recover the costs of your loan. Therefore, unless you are planning to stay in your home for at least three more years, refinancing your mortgage loan will actually cost you money rather than save you money. The longer you remain in your home at the lower interest rate, the more savings you will realize. If you remain in your home for another ten years, you will realize $5,900 in savings. If you stay in your home for another twenty years, you will pay $14,300 less in mortgage payments at 6% than you would at 5%.
Paying Off Your Mortgage Faster
Another reason to refinance your mortgage is to pay it off faster. If your financial circumstances change, and you have more money to put toward your mortgage, you may consider refinancing your mortgage to a shorter term. You will not only pay off the loan faster and get out of debt sooner, but you will also be paying considerably less for your home. For example, if you refinance a $100,000, 30 year fixed term mortgage to a 15 year fixed term mortgage, you will increase your monthly payment from $599.95 to $849 monthly, but you will save $63,000 over the life of the loan.