Homes are staying on the market longer and home owners are struggling with finances. In these economically stressful times, homeowners are constantly looking for ways to save money. It is important to make financially sound decisions that will have a positive impact on what seems to be an uncertain future. There are many things to consider if you are currently wrestling with the idea of what makes sense, and what may not make sense regarding your biggest investment. Here are a few things to consider:
What is the objective?
Lowering your monthly obligation-
If you are looking for relief on monthly payments on a current 30 year mortgage, refinancing could be a smart move, especially if you are considering switching from a conventional to an FHA mortgage. FHA has somewhat easier terms to qualify for and you can qualify for future streamline refinancing each time the interest rates drop.
Note: If the rates are less than 1 percent of what you are currently are paying, give plenty of thought to this move. Refinancing will bring up your pay off amount and this is a factor. Be prepared. You will have to have your home appraised and or inspected. Make sure you do the necessary steps to get your home in order first.
Tapping into home equity-
If you are looking to cash in on your home's equity, refinancing at a lower rate while pulling
cash from the home's value could be an alternative as well. If your home is in need of updates, new furnace, air conditioning, roofing, etc. this would be a good time to take advantage of a cash out refinance. This option is great for those who have either lived in their home a while, or paid a large down payment when they purchased their home. Make sure to put some of the cash into updating long overdue improvements.
Your home's pay off should be considerably less than what the market value is for this to make sense financially. A word of caution though, most homes have experienced a drop in their market value over the past few years and you may be in for shock when your home is appraised. In a courtroom, lawyers should know the answer to the questions they ask in advance, and you should have an idea of home value before you fork out appraisal fees. This is especially true if your loan approval/refinance will be contingent upon your home appraising at a certain amount.
Visiting sites like Cyberhomes and Zillow should yield some reasonable idea of what your home may be worth currently. Also consider your current credit status. Don't wait until your credit is in bad shape to suddenly run and try for a cash out refinance. Banks have tightened the reins and even Credit Unions are not as forgiving as they once was regarding credit. Never wait until you are desperate to try and save a sinking ship. Try to spot the storm in advance and make your move while you still have a chance at success.
Shortening that mortgage term- Switching from 30 years to 20 or 15 years-
If you bought a home a little later in life and you went for the 30 yr. fixed rate deal, you probably did not consider the fact that you may not live to see your home paid for. If you bought your home with no down payment/100% financing your equity will be long in coming. Shortening your mortgage note at a reduced interest rate may yield a slightly higher payment, but could mean spending your golden years traveling and having fun instead of paying a mortgage on a fixed income.
A man of fifty would be wise to consider shortening a 30 yr. fixed rate note to a 15 or 20 year mortgage at a reduced rate. He will build equity faster, which can come in handy later on if an emergency arises. Many banks and finance companies are now offering bi-weekly payment options your new 20 or 15 year mortgage can actually be paid of in an estimated 16.5 years and a 15 yr. mortgage in 13.5 years.
In about five years time your mortgage pay off will actually be less than it would have been if you had not refinanced at all, even with the hike in the Principle balance from the refinance. The bi-weekly option pays your home off faster due to the 52 weeks in a year, which actually seamlessly allows you to pay more than you realize without feeling the impact of it financially. Now consider that your home may increase in value in a five year period,(with emphasis on "may")you are way ahead of the game.
- At closing remember, you will need a certain amount of cash and typically you will be required to have a witness present. The witness must be atleast 18 years of age.
- 2. Check your credit report and pay down credit cards and debts prior to a refinance. Make sure there are no negative errors that can hinder or impact your refinance ahead of time. Try going to sites that offer free credit reports.
- Have some savings. Try to have some money in your savings account, ideally $1000.00 wouldn't hurt.
- Research your homes value, make lists of current improvements you've made that are not included on sites that give a market value. You want these improvements to be noted.
- Make improvements, etc. to your home prior to appraisal and inspection. Be ready to answer questions about your homes roof and how old it is, and make sure outlets, smoke detectors are all in working order.
- Shop around, different lenders offer different packages. Do not be so sure your bank or credit union has the best deal, just because you're a customer or former customer. Loyalty does not always translate into a better deal for you.
- Pay close attention to the fees involved, and note how much this will increase your pay off on your home. Make sure if you go with a lender that they are an approved FHA lender, and have a good reputation. There are sites online that you can investigate customer satisfaction. Do so.