Are Today’s Mortgage Rates Low Enough To Lower Your Payments?

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Are Today's Mortgage Rates Low Enough To Lower Your Payments

There are numerous reasons a refinance will help you improve your finances, both instantly and in the long-term. One reason is always to improve your cash flow in the here and now.

  1. You can reduce your interest rate by choosing a program at a lower rate than what you currently have. It may be an ARM with a lowered rate that can be a fixed rate for one-to-ten years
  2. You are able to reduce your payment by stretching out your existing balance over a brand new 30-year term. It will require longer time to settle your loan, however your payment will drop
  3. Remember that the longer you take to clear your mortgage debt, the more interest you’ll pay within the life of the loan

There is usually a trade-off between immediate savings and long-term costs. However, you can always decide to fast-track your repayment as your finances improve.

No, you’ve not missed the boat

If you don’t follow trends in mortgage rates closely, you might be under the impression they’ve increased. However they haven’t really.

Surely, the entire trend has been upward, but zigzagging means the rise is most likely smaller compared to the occasional headline that’s caught your eye may possibly suggest. However, according to Freddie Mac, the typical rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) was 4.53 percent in July 2018. It turned out 4.20 in December 2016. That’s not really a huge jump.

Yes, today’s mortgage rates are greater than the all-time record low (3.45 percent) seen in April 2013. But few homeowners were fortunate enough to actually get that rate. And recent increases haven’t been as huge as many believe. All of this might explain why, based on the Mortgage Bankers Association, 37 percent of most mortgage applications in the first quarter of 2018 were for refinances. That number had increased to 38.9 percent by the beginning of September this year.

Read on to find out mortgage rates that are today even lower than the average one in December 2016.

You think you don’t qualify? You might be wrong

You will find two significant reasons a homeowner may think she is not eligible for a refinance for lower payments:

  • Her home is “underwater” — meaning her mortgage balance is more than the existing market value of the property that secures it
  • Her credit score is shot

For a cash-out refinance (one where you walk away with a fat check), either of these will probably disqualify you. But you will find programs which exist to help homeowners refinance to a lowered rate when they’re in either or both of these situations.

For instance , mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration, Veterans Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture (FHA loans, VA loans and USDA loans) all have streamline refinancing programs that don’t require credit checks or home appraisals. And there’s more help along the way for others.

You should refinance for lower payments

If you refinance to a reduced rate, you’ll often end up getting a smaller payment. You will find exceptions, however in most cases that’s true.

Actually, you can often refinance for lower payments even though you get yourself a higher rate. That’s because you’ll reset the clock on your own mortgage.

Simply take this example. Suppose that you’ve been making payments on your own 30-year FRM for A decade. If you refinance to a brand new 30-year FRM, you’ll be spreading your original repayment over 40 years (10 already and 30 more to come) rather than 30 years. And the more payments you make to clear a specific debt, the smaller each has to be.

Downside

But this contains a huge disadvantage. Even though you have the ability to refinance to a lowered rate, you’ll wind up paying much more interest in the long run. Because borrowing a large sum over 40 years costs more than over 30 years, no matter moderate variations in rates.

Obviously, this may not concern you. Most of us have priorities that change over our lifetimes, and you’ll legitimately decide to accept a higher total cost of borrowing in exchange for smaller monthly payments now. You simply must be aware you’re making that choice when you refinance for lower payments.

Refinance to cut your interest rate and borrowing costs

There’s a terrific way to get yourself a lower rate and slash your total cost of borrowing. But it’s the contrary of a refinance for lower payments. Because you’re actually refinancing for higher payments.

If you cut the time your mortgage has left to operate, you get two advantages:

  1. The shorter term will typically enable you to get a significantly lower mortgage rate than you can get on a 30-year mortgage
  2. You’ll pay a great deal less for your loan overall, mainly because you’re borrowing for a shorter period

You’re still resetting your mortgage clock. But you’re doing this for a shorter period compared to the term left to run in your existing mortgage. And fewer payments mean bigger payments.

A lot of people with this goal refinance their 30-year FRMs to 15-year ones. But, if you’re able to afford it, some lenders offer even shorter terms: five to a decade. Do this as long as the interest rates are lower than the 15-year loan. Otherwise, get yourself a 15-year loan and make extra principal reduction payments if you are feeling flush. This is much less riskier and won’t cost more.

Refinance to cut your rate and payments

So-called experts have already been predicting sharp increases in mortgage rates for roughly a decade. Yet those rises either didn’t materialize at all or ended up being much gentler than expected.

If in the past, those predictions put you off dealing with an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), you may feel as if you made the wrong choice. Because, at least due to their initial, fixed-rate period, ARMs come with considerably lower rates than equivalent FRMs. And lots of with ARMs actually saw their rates decrease when the economy softened.

Here’s how ARMs work. You get an introductory period where the interest rate must be lower than that of a 30-year fixed-rate loan. This period can range between three to 10 years, with common loan being a 5/1 ARM, fixed for five years.

After that initial period ends, ARM rates change with economic conditions, along with your rate can reset a couple of times a year, with regards to the terms of your mortgage. But ARM rates overall have only edged up slightly throughout the last 10 years, and homeowners with ARMs are currently sitting pretty.

Considering the fact that most Americans move more frequently than once every 10 years, many homeowners could be considerably better off with one of these.

Minimizing ARM risks

In addition to this, today’s ARMs have less risk than they once did. Prepayment penalties are rare. And ARMs have caps on how much an interest rate can alter at anybody adjustment, and how high the rate can look at the duration of the loan.

Lenders calculate ARM rates by tallying of a margin (which covers their costs and their profit) to a published financial index, just like the LIBOR or the CMT. Look up your index, and see where your loan could be if the introductory period ended today. (The index plus margin is also called your “fully-indexed rate. ”)

As an example, if you had a loan with a margin of 2.5 percent, and it had been on the basis of the 1-year LIBOR index, it will be 5.35 percent (2.85 percent LIBOR along with your 2.5 percent margin around this writing. )

If you were also offered an ARM based on the 1-year CMT index with a 2.75 percent margin, your fully-indexed rate would be 5.2 percent (2.45 percent plus 2.75 percent).

So as long as you dump your loan prior to the introductory period ends, it doesn’t matter what the index and margin are. However it is reasonable to understand what could happen if you choose to keep your loan longer.