By Erin Wright & Christina Waterhouse
Questions to Ask and Information to Gather Before You Refinance
Low interest rates are attracting more and more people to the market, especially those who are looking to refinance their mortgages. Clients have been reaching out to us to ask if they should be refinancing their homes. Our general response is, “it depends”. There are a few questions and pieces of key information you should gather before deciding whether to refinance.
1. What is the difference between your interest rate and current interest rate?
A good rule of thumb is for the current rate to be at least .5 – .75% less than your interest rate. This rule can change greatly depending on the size of the loan though. The more money that is being borrowed, the larger the difference is going to be in both your monthly payments and your total interest paid. You can find the daily interest rate here.
2. How close are you to paying off your mortgage
At the beginning of a loan, most of the monthly payment is going to interest. Only a small portion of the payment goes towards paying off the principal balance of the loan. As payments continue, the amount that goes towards interest goes down and the amount that goes towards the principal balance goes up. It is worth looking at an amortization schedule to see if refinancing will save you money over the life of the loan. You can find an amortization calculator here.
3. Has your credit or employment changed?
Employment history, debt to income ratios, and credit scores all impact the rate you will receive when applying for a loan. Speak to your lender regarding any changes in these areas to make sure you would qualify for a refinance and see what rate you would likely qualify for. Then you can determine if it is worth refinancing.
4. What is the property being used for?
Properties that are used as primary residences qualify for lower interest rates than those used as investment properties (usually .5 – 1% lower). If you purchased the property as a primary residence and subsequently turned it into a rental, you might not see much of a change in your interest rate or possibly your interest rate as an investment property could be higher. Speak with your lender to see what the current interest rate would be for the specific property.
5. Should you refinance into a 15 year loan or 30 year loan?
If you do decide that it is worth refinancing your loan, consider looking at both a 15 year and 30 year loan. Right now the interest rate for a 15 year loan is in the mid 2% range, while the interest rate for a 30 year loan is in the high 2% range. A 15 year loan will save you a lot of money in interest over the life of the loan. This is a great way to build strong equity in your property and pay it off in half of the time.
As always, we welcome any questions you may have and are happy to offer advice.
Mortgage insight and references provided by: Mathew Mattila, Cascade Northern Mortgage