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Should I Refinance Now?

Written by Ilyce Glink on September 17, 2010 in Real Estate  |   6 comments

Should I Refinance Now? Last November, when mortgage interest rates hit 4.25 percent for a 15-year fixed, my husband, Sam, and I hit the refinance button. We were seven or eight years into our 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage (ARM), which had recently reset to about…

Refinancing your home due to interest ratesShould I Refinance Now?

Last November, when mortgage interest rates hit 4.25 percent for a 15-year fixed, my husband, Sam, and I hit the refinance button.

We were seven or eight years into our 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage (ARM), which had recently reset to about 3.35 percent. We knew that our total payment would rise slightly because the interest rate would be higher, but we were willing to take the risk to lock in a rate that I never expected to see again.

And I still haven’t seen it—because interest rates have dropped even lower than they were last November. In August, mortgage interest rates hit a nearly 60-year record: you could get a 30-year fixed-rate loan for less than 4.5 percent, and I was quoted a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage for 3.75 percent.

As Nobel Prize–winning University of Chicago economist Robert Fogel told me at a party, that’s “silly money.”

If you refinance, a couple of years from now when interest rates rise—as they inevitably will—paying off a 15-year loan at 3.75 percent will seem like interest-free money, which it will virtually be, especially if you qualify for some sort of interest rate deduction.

So should I refinance now? Should you?

The only way to tell is to do the numbers. Our refinance would cost us about $1,100, and we would save roughly $60 per month. We break even with the costs of our refinance after about 18 months. Overall, we’d save around $13,000 in interest over the life of the new loan, compared with our current mortgage.

So far, so good, but by the time we’d close on the refinance, we’d be nearly a year into our new loan, so we’d be trading the 14 years we have left on our current 15-year mortgage for a new 15-year loan.

With standard amortization tables, you pay the most amount of interest in the first year of a new loan and the least amount of interest in the final year. So we paid roughly $6,000 in interest this year that would be lost if we refinanced to a new 15-year mortgage.

We can recoup that if we use the $60 per month “savings” to prepay our new mortgage. At this point, every extra payment we make each year will save us approximately one year on the loan.

So if we want to turn our 15-year loan into a 14-year mortgage, we need to make one extra payment per year. If we want to turn it into a 13-year loan, we’ll have to make two extra payments each year.

Even with the $6,000 lost, we would still save roughly $7,000 by refinancing. Plus, I’d be able to tell my grandkids that their grandfather and I once had a home loan with a 3.75 percent interest rate.

By the time they’re old enough to understand, the Great Recession will be as far away for them as the Korean War is for us—which, coincidentally, is just about when mortgage interest rates were last this low.

Ilyce R. Glink is the author of several books, including 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask and Buy, Close, Move In!. She blogs about money and real estate at ThinkGlink.com and at the Home Equity blog for CBS MoneyWatch.

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6 comments

  1. Editor, Equifax Personal Finance Blog says:

    "If the rate is even a quarter percent lower for a fixed loan, it is definitely worth to refinance if you'll be staying in your home, just my two cents."

    Jane commented on this post via Active Rain: http://activerain.com/blogsview/1862817/should-you-refinance-now-

  2. Editor, Equifax Personal Finance Blog says:

    "Why not look at the bigger picture. With this market, it is time to look at moving up. Now you can afford a bigger house at the same mortgage payment. With the choices available today, it is worth checking into."

    Dennis commented on this post via Active Rain: http://activerain.com/blogsview/1862817/should-you-refinance-now-

  3. Editor, Equifax Personal Finance Blog says:

    "Each person should make sure it is a financial gain in the long run in regards to a refinance or not. Thanks for your post"

    Glenn commented on this post via Active Rain: http://activerain.com/blogsview/1862817/should-you-refinance-now-

  4. Admin says:

    I loved your well written and informative post. I think that there are many people like you who are planning to opt refinancing considering the current market trends. Mortgage rates in USA has hit an all time low in 2010 and Mortgage Bankers Association revealed that in the month of August 2010 they have received huge number of refinancing and mortgage applications. One issue that bothers many people interested in refinancing is the amount of time that is required to complete the whole process. I believe that 1 month is an ideal turnaround time but there are a number of national lenders who fail to complete the total process within that time. So I think that people should discuss this matter with the financial institutions in order to ensure that there is no disappointment later. For more information, you can visit http://www.revealty.com.

  5. Baljeet says:

    i think you have given a good explaination… but after visiting a no. of site i found something interesting at the site where u can also read so read here for that

    http://www.ratecomb.com/mortgage-adjustable-rate

  6. Georges Kfoury says:

    "http://www.leaderscorpfinancial.com" style="text-decoration:none">Mortgage industry after April of 2011
    I believe the answer to that, would be for the mortgage brokers and mortgage bankers to give more then what the big banks are giving to the public and to the real estate industry. It's a simple philosophy give and you will get much more in return. We have set our path for 2011 strategy and the execution of our strategy will begin in January 15th of 2011. Our strategy will create opportunities for real estate agents to have more business and develop for them a strategy for continuous growth in return to have a massive bonding strategy between the real estate agents in our market with our loan officers in exchange for the value that is provided by the services and the strategies we bring to our industry. All we would like to ask for the loan officers, the mortgage brokers and mortgage bankers that are in the industry and they are facing some financial trouble or facing frustration of growth and development for their office or their company to join us on Facebook and join our company so we could put our hands together and promote what banks can't promote, give the public and the real estate industry something that has never been provided and asking nothing in return.
    Our formula for success in 2011 is the way of conquering markets, it's the new way to conquer this industry lets come together and turn this industry to our benefit and show the banks how hard it is going to be for them when we are taking their business away, and how much this industry is in a need for our breed of professionals.
    facebook: http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=164247740284042&v=app_6009294086

    twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/georgesleaders


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