Is Refinancing My Mortgage a Good Idea? (2024)

The decision to refinance your home depends on many factors, including the length of time you plan to live there, current interest rates, and how long it will take to recoup your closing costs. In some cases, refinancing is a wise decision. In others, it may not be worth it financially.

Because you already own the property, refinancing likely would be easier than securing a loan as a first-time buyer. Also, if you have owned your property or house for a long time and built up significant equity, that will make refinancing easier. However, if tapping that equity or consolidating debt is your reason for a refi, keep in mind that doing so can increase the number of years that you will owe on your mortgage—not the smartest of financial moves.

Key Takeaways

  • It may be wise to refinance if you can lower your interest rate by 1% or more.
  • You should plan to stay in the home long enough to recoup the costs of refinancing.
  • Getting rid of private mortgage insurance (PMI) is one good reason to get a new mortgage.

Reasons to Refinance

So when does it make sense to refinance? The typical should-I-refinance-my-mortgage rule of thumb is that if you can reduce your current interest rate by 1% or more, it might make sense because of the money you’ll save. Refinancing to a lower interest rate also allows you to build equity in your home more quickly. If interest rates have dropped low enough, it might be possible to refinance to shorten the loan term—say, from a 30-year to a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage—without changing the monthly payment by much.

Similarly, falling interest rates could be a reason to convert from a fixed- to an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), as periodic adjustments on an ARM should mean lower rates and smaller monthly payments. In a rising-mortgage-rate environment, this strategy makes less financial sense. Indeed, the periodic ARM adjustments that increase the interest rate on your mortgage may make converting to a fixed-rate loan a wise choice.

Mortgage lending discrimination is illegal. If you think you've been discriminated against based on race, religion, sex, marital status, use of public assistance, national origin, disability, or age, there are steps you can take. One such step is to file a report to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Consider Closing Costs

There are closing costs involved in all of these scenarios. Your outlay will need to cover charges for title insurance, attorney’s fees, an appraisal, taxes, and transfer fees, among others. These refinancing costs, which can be between 3% and 6% of the loan’s principal, are almost as high as the cost of an initial mortgage and can take years to recoup.

If you are trying to reduce your monthly payments, beware of “no-closing-cost” refinancings from lenders. Although there may be no closing costs, a bank likely will recoup those fees by giving you a higher interest rate, which would defeat your goal.

Consider How Long You Plan to Stay in Your Home

In deciding whether or not to refinance, you’ll want to calculate what your monthly savings will be when the refinance is complete. Let’s say, for example, that you have a 30-year mortgage loan for $200,000. When you first assumed the loan, your interest rate was fixed at 6.5%, and your monthly payment was $1,257. If interest rates fall to 5.5% fixed, this could reduce your monthly payment to $1,130—a savings of $127 per month, or $1,524 annually.

Your lender can calculate your total closing costs for the refinance should you decide to proceed. If your costs amount to approximately $2,300, you can divide that figure by your savings to determine your break-even point—in this case, the home for two years or longer, refinancing would make sense one-and-a-half years in the home [$2,300 ÷ $1,524 = 1.5]. If you plan to stay in the home for two years or longer, refinancing would make sense.

If you want to refinance with less than a 1% reduction, say 0.5%, the picture changes. Using the same example, your monthly payment would be reduced to $1,194, a savings of $63 per month, or $756 annually [$2,300 ÷ $756 = 3.0], so you would have to stay in the home for three years. If your closing costs were higher, say $4,000, that period would jump to nearly five-and-a-half years.

If the equity in your home is less than 20%, you could be required to pay PMI, which could reduce any savings you might get from refinancing.

Consider Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

During periods when home values decline, many homes are appraised for much less than they had been appraised in the past. If this is the case when you are considering refinancing, the lower valuation of your home may mean that you now lack sufficient equity to satisfy a 20% down payment on the new mortgage.

To refinance, you will be required to provide a larger cash deposit than you had expected, or you may need to carry PMI, which will ultimately increase your monthly payment. It could mean that, even with a drop in interest rates, your real savings might not amount to much.

Conversely, a refinance that will remove your PMI would save you money and might be worth doing for that reason alone. If your house has 20% or more equity, you will not need to pay PMI unless you have anFHA mortgage loanor you are considered a high-risk borrower. If you currently pay PMI, have at least 20% equity, and your current lender will not remove the PMI, you should refinance.

As a seasoned expert in the field of personal finance and mortgage refinancing, my extensive experience allows me to delve into the intricacies of this critical financial decision with confidence and authority.

Firstly, let's address the factors mentioned in the article that influence the decision to refinance a home. The length of time you plan to live in your home is a crucial consideration. If you're looking to stay for an extended period, it may make sense to refinance, as you'll have more time to recoup the closing costs associated with the process.

Current interest rates play a pivotal role in the decision-making process. If you can secure a new mortgage at an interest rate that is 1% or more lower than your current rate, it often makes financial sense. Lower interest rates not only result in immediate savings but can also accelerate the buildup of equity in your home.

The concept of equity is fundamental to understanding the feasibility of refinancing. If you've owned your property for an extended period and have accumulated substantial equity, the refinancing process becomes more straightforward. However, tapping into this equity for purposes like debt consolidation might have long-term implications, potentially extending the duration of your mortgage.

Private mortgage insurance (PMI) is another key consideration. Refinancing to eliminate PMI can be a compelling reason to pursue a new mortgage. PMI is typically required if your home equity is less than 20%. If your property has gained value or you've paid down your mortgage sufficiently to reach this threshold, refinancing can save you money by eliminating the need for PMI.

The article rightly emphasizes the importance of factoring in closing costs. These costs can range from 3% to 6% of the loan principal, making it critical to assess how long it will take to recoup these expenses through monthly savings. Beware of "no-closing-cost" refinancing offers, as they may result in a higher interest rate, counteracting the goal of reducing monthly payments.

Additionally, the article provides a practical approach to assessing the decision to refinance based on the potential monthly savings. By calculating the break-even point—dividing the total closing costs by the annual savings—you can determine the time it takes for the refinance to become financially advantageous.

In conclusion, the decision to refinance your home is a multifaceted one that involves considerations such as interest rates, equity, closing costs, and the duration of your stay. Armed with a thorough understanding of these concepts, you can make informed financial decisions that align with your long-term goals.

Is Refinancing My Mortgage a Good Idea? (2024)


Is Refinancing My Mortgage a Good Idea? ›

So when is refinancing your mortgage a good idea? One rule of thumb is that refinancing may be a good idea when you can reduce your current interest rate by 1% or more. That's because you can save money in the long-term. Refinancing to a lower interest rate also allows you to build equity in your home more quickly.

Is it a good idea to refinance a mortgage? ›

Historically, the rule of thumb is that refinancing is a good idea if you can reduce your interest rate by at least 2%. However, many lenders say 1% savings is enough of an incentive to refinance. Using a mortgage calculator is a good resource to budget some of the costs.

What is not a good reason to refinance? ›

Key Takeaways. Don't refinance if you have a long break-even period—the number of months to reach the point when you start saving. Refinancing to lower your monthly payment is great unless you're spending more money in the long-run.

What is the negative side of refinancing? ›

The main benefits of refinancing your home are saving money on interest and having the opportunity to change loan terms. Drawbacks include the closing costs you'll pay and the potential for limited savings if you take out a larger loan or choose a longer term.

How do you know if I should refinance my mortgage? ›

One of the best times to reevaluate your mortgage is when interest rates on home loans significantly drop. Your interest rate plays a large role in the amount of money that you end up paying for your home. If you locked into a loan during a time when rates were high, you might be overpaying for your mortgage.

Do you get money back when you refinance your mortgage? ›

How does a cash-out refinance work? With a cash-out refinance, you take out a new mortgage that's for more than you owe on your existing home loan, but less than your home's current value. At closing, you'll receive the difference between the new amount borrowed and the loan balance.

What do you lose when you refinance? ›

You don't have to lose any equity when you refinance, but there's a chance that it could happen. For example, if you take cash out of your home when you refinance your mortgage or use your equity to pay closing costs, your total home equity will decline by the amount of money you borrow.

Does refinancing hurt your credit? ›

Refinancing will hurt your credit score a bit initially, but might actually help in the long run. Refinancing can significantly lower your debt amount and/or your monthly payment, and lenders like to see both of those. Your score will typically dip a few points, but it can bounce back within a few months.

Why don t more people refinance? ›

The YouGov survey found homeowners also worry any savings they might enjoy with a lower interest rate could be lost to lender fees. Sixteen percent of homeowners say they have chosen not to refinance because the fees are too high, the second most popular reason given on the YouGuv survey.

Will I owe more if I refinance? ›

In most scenarios, a refinance will affect your monthly mortgage payment. But whether the amount goes up or down depends on your personal financial goals and the type of refinance you choose.

Who benefits from refinancing? ›

If rates are lower, or you think your credit rating may qualify you for a better interest rate than you received when you first got your mortgage, you may consider refinancing. A refinance is essentially getting a new mortgage to replace the one you currently have.

Is it smart to refinance your home right now? ›

As refinance rates skyrocketed, most homeowners wouldn't benefit from taking out a new home loan only to get a higher interest rate. But mortgage rates should start to come down over the next year or two.

Do you lose equity when you refinance? ›

Refinancing doesn't necessarily have to affect the equity in your home, but in certain cases it definitely can. Factors that determine the equity in your home include the balance owed on your mortgage and how much your home is worth. The difference between these two figures is your home equity.

What do you have to pay when you refinance your home? ›

The cost to refinance a mortgage ranges from 2% to 6% of your loan amount, and you can expect to pay less to close on a refinance than on a comparable purchase loan. The exact amount you'll have to pay depends on several factors, including: Your loan size. Your lender.

How much equity do I need to refinance? ›

Conventional refinance: For conventional refinances (including cash-out refinances), you'll usually need at least 20 percent equity in your home (or an LTV ratio of no more than 80 percent).

What is the pros and cons of refinancing? ›

Refinancing allows you to lengthen your loan term if you're having trouble making your payments. The downsides are that you'll be paying off your mortgage longer and you'll pay more in interest over time. However, a longer loan term can make your monthly payments more affordable and free up extra cash.

Is it good or bad to refinance a loan? ›

Securing a lower interest rate through a refinance reduces your cost of borrowing so you'll pay less on your personal loan overall. Refinancing to a longer loan term offers lower minimum monthly payments. You will likely pay more toward the loan overall by extending the repayment timeline due to interest charges.

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