Q: I have a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. I think I have about 16.5 years left on it. I took it out in 2003, but until recently I was paying a few hundred dollars each month extra toward the principal balance. My balance now is about $106,000.
I’d love to take advantage of historically low rates, but I think I waited too long to make a move. I don’t think it makes sense now. If I refinanced to a 15-year loan now, I guess I’d only cut off a year or so, and I think my payment would be about the same. I’m guessing it’s not worth the hassle if I’m looking at it all right. Any thoughts?
A: If you cut a year or two off from your mortgage, you’ll still save thousands in interest. You might also give yourself more of a tax deduction in the next few years. I think it might be worth doing, but you have to do the numbers.
You should be able to refinance a 15-year at around 4 percent (as of late July). That is probably quite a bit lower than what you’re paying now, depending on how high your interest rate is.
In 2003, your interest rate was probably in the high 5 percent range. If the payments are the same, you’re still saving 18 months’ worth of payments so the trick will be to keep your closing costs as low as possible. If the payments are less than what you’re paying now, you can add them in and shave even more time from the loan term.
But you’re right – if you save, it may not be by all that much. But you won’t know for sure until you run the numbers. And, you’ll have the pressure to make at least the same payment, so if times get a bit tougher for you, that could be a problem as well. Pull out the pad and paper – or go to the computer and work out the numbers.
You might also want to sit down with a good mortgage lender or mortgage broker and see what your savings might be and what it would cost you to refinance.
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