Q: I bought a condominium last October. My mortgage has an 8 percent interest rate. With the rates falling, is it wise to refinance? Is it too soon after the initial purchase? I’d hate for the rate to drop and I didn’t take advantage, but I’m not too knowledgeable about all the ins and outs.
A: It’s never too soon to refinance, as long as you figure out how much the refinance is going to cost you out of pocket and how long it will take you to recoup those expenses. A good rule of thumb is if you can’t pay off the refinance expenses with your monthly savings in 18 to 24 months, wait until rates go down further or find a cheaper refinance.
I know they’re sometimes difficult to find, but look around for a zero cost, zero fee refinance. (If you agree to increase the rate by 1/8, many lenders will “create” a zero cost, zero fee refinance for you.) Also, think about how long you’ll be in the property. If you’re only going to be there 5 more years, you can look at a 5-year or 7-year adjustable loan, which should be significantly less expensive than a 30-year fixed.
Shop around for rates both online and off-line. You might try www.bankrate.com, www.homeadvisor.com, www.eloan.com and www.countrywide.com. If you belong to a credit union or have the opportunity to join one, check out their rates as well. Credit unions are typically an inexpensive way to finance property.
Oct. 28, 2004.