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How to know when refinancing your home loan is right for you

Young father with his son, calculating the costs and benefits of refinancing his home.

Refinancing a mortgage can potentially save a homeowner a substantial amount of money over the life of a home loan. However, when thinking about refinancing, be sure to consider the upfront costs.

Reasons to refinance your home

Here are five reasons why you might choose to refinance.

1. Lower your monthly payment

If current interest rates are lower than the rate you are paying on your mortgage, refinancing could lower your monthly payment. For example, if you have $250,000 remaining on your mortgage at 10% for 30 years, your monthly payment (principal and interest) would be $2,193.93. If you were able to refinance to a 6.99% loan for 30 years, your monthly payment (principal and interest) would drop to $1,661.58, a reduction of more than $530 per month. Note that some of the reduction may be due to stretching out your payments rather than reducing your rate.

The longer you stay in your house, the more money you can save by refinancing. However, consider that you will have to pay upfront closing costs because you are taking out a new mortgage. The mortgage refinance calculator from Discover® Home Loans can help you determine at what point you will recoup your upfront costs and start reduction from your refinancing.

Tip: Many lenders will tell you that rates must drop by at least 50 basis points (0.50%) for refinancing of the same loan term to make financial sense, but this threshold is different for everybody. The most important factor in your decision should be how long it takes to recoup the costs to refinance. If you expect to remain in your current home beyond the length of time it will take to recoup the costs, then it’s a good idea to consider refinancing your mortgage.

2. Switch to a short-term loan

Depending on your situation, it could make sense to switch from a long-term loan to a short-term loan through a refinance. This might be particularly beneficial to you if you are now able to afford a higher monthly mortgage payment.

Switching from a 30-year loan to a 15-year loan results in higher monthly payments but pays the loan off much more quickly, saving thousands of dollars in interest payments over the life of the loan.

3. Change from an adjustable-rate to a fixed-rate mortgage

Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) are great for minimizing your monthly mortgage payment in the early years of owning a home. But when interest rates start to rise, so do the monthly payments on an ARM.

To avoid the increasing payments, you can switch to a fixed-rate mortgage. While the monthly payments on a fixed-rate mortgage may initially be higher than the payment on your ARM, you will have peace of mind knowing your payment will remain the same, even if interest rates continue to rise.

4. Change from a fixed-rate to an adjustable-rate mortgage

If you know you will be selling your house in the next few years, switching to an adjustable-rate mortgage could lower your rate and your monthly payment until you sell your house. Another example is when short-term rates are lower than long-term rates and refinancing into an ARM could save you money at least during the short-term period.

5. Take cash out

When you have equity in your home, cash out refinancing can allow you to refinance your original mortgage and receive cash funds from your home equity at the same time. You might want to do a cash out refinance if:

  • You want to make a large purchase but do not have access to other funding, or other funding is more expensive than the rate you can get on a refinancing.
  • You want to use equity from your home to consolidate other high-interest debt.

Some examples of what you can do with the equity you take out include:

  • Making home improvements
  • Purchasing an investment property
  • Paying for higher education
  • Paying credit cards, medical bills, or emergency expenses

When NOT to refinance your home

Generally, there is one main reason not to refinance: when your income and credit score don't support better rates and terms on your existing mortgage.

While closing costs could be a reason to avoid refinancing your home, some lenders like Discover Home Loans offer refinancing with no closing costs, making the math simple.

No matter why you are choosing to refinance, you will want to consider what might work best for your current and long-term financial goals before getting into the application process.

Articles may contain information from third parties. The inclusion of such information does not imply an affiliation with the bank or bank sponsorship, endorsement, or verification regarding the third party or its information.

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