Historically low interest rates have made now a good time to be a homeowner. According to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, also known as Freddie Mac, the average interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage in mid-September 2021 was 2.86. Just ten years earlier, the average rate was 4.09. That’s a significant dip, and one that’s saving today’s homeowners tens of thousands of dollars over the life of their mortgages.
Interest rates dipped during the pandemic and have remained low ever since. That’s unlikely to last forever, which has given many homeowners a sense of urgency regarding refinancing. Refinancing can be financially advantageous, but there are some things homeowners should know prior to contacting their lenders.
Refinancing does not always save money over the long haul
It’s hard to blame homeowners who jump at the chance to refinance their mortgages. Refinancing is often associated with significantly lower monthly payments, and such savings can be used to finance home improvements, pay for tuition or build retirement nest eggs. However, homeowners won’t necessarily save money over the long haul if they’re refinancing an existing 30-year mortgage with another 30-year mortgage.
The mortage experts at Mortgage Calculator note that a Change Terms mortgage refinance is characterized by a shift to a loan charging a lower interest rate. The initial savings with such a refinance are undeniable, but changing from one 30-year to another 30-year restarts the mortgage clock, which can add years to the time homeowners will be repaying their debt. As a result, homeowners may end up paying more interest over time than they might have had they just kept their initial mortgage. Homeowners interested in a Change Terms refinance may want to look into switching from a 30-year to a 15-year mortgage. A shorter term mortgage will increase the monthly payment, but the loan will reach maturity much faster, greatly reducing the amount of interest homeowners will pay over the life of the mortgage.
Refinancing can be costly
Lower monthly payments might be the number that catches homeowners’ eyes as they look to refinance, but it’s important that homeowners recognize that refinancing is not free. In fact, the personal finance experts at Kiplinger note that refinancing incurs many of the same costs that homeowners had to pay when they signed their initial mortgage papers. That includes fees, taxes and appraisal costs. These costs are sometimes paid up front, but they also might be rolled into the loan balance. In the latter instance, homeowners could be paying interest on their refinancing costs. Homeowners who are refinancing solely because of lower interest rates should know that some lenders raise interest rates to compensate for refinancing costs. That can negate the savings and end up costing homeowners more money than the original mortgage.
Refinancing is an option for homeowners who want to save money. Homeowners can speak with a financial advisor to determine if this is the best way to save money over the long haul or if refinancing will ultimately cost them more over the life of the mortgage.