Amy Miller's Blog
Many Americans who purchased their home when they had lower credit, a shorter employment history, and less money stand to gain from refinancing their mortgages. However, most miss out on this opportunity or don’t realize it in time to save potentially thousands in interest payments.
According to recent data, 5.2 million Americans could save, on average, $215 per month if they refinanced their loan. But many homeowners are hesitant to refinance.
Whether it’s because of the inconvenience, the cost of refinancing, the worries about something going wrong, or uncertainty about whether they’ll actually save money if they go through the process, millions of homeowners are missing out.
So, in this article, we’re going to talk about some reasons it may be a good idea for you to refinance. If you’re one of the millions of Americans with a mortgage who are thinking about refinancing, this post is for you.
Riding the wave of the economy
Interest rates on home loans are historically low right now. As a result, homeowners can save by refinancing simply due to changing tides of the real estate market. Although mortgage rates have increased slightly over the past two years, they’re still on the low end, so this could be your last chance to save.
To consolidate your debt
Credit cards, auto loans, and other forms of debt can add up quickly. If you have a high-interest rate on your other debts, refinancing could be a good way to consolidate and save.
This can be achieved through a home equity loan or by refinancing with a cash-out option. This means you refinance your mortgage for more than you currently owe and take the remainder in cash to pay off your other debts with high-interest payments.
Typically, you need to have at least 20% equity (or have paid off 20% of your mortgage) to be eligible for this option.
Small percentages count for more now
It was once said that refinancing only made sense if you would receive a lower interest rate of at least 1-2%. However, with the prices of homes increasing over the years, sometimes even a small change, such as .75% is enough to save you substantial money on your repayment.
You’re able to repay early
One of the best ways to save on a home loan is by refinancing to a shorter term. Going from a 30-year loan to a 15-year loan can save you thousands. There are several calculators available for free online that will enable you to estimate how much you could save by refinancing to a 15-year mortgage.
You got a raise
One of the best times to refinance is when you can be certain that you can afford to pay off your loan sooner. As people progress in their career, it isn’t uncommon for them to refinance their loan so that they can spend more each month but save in the long run.
Since you have a higher income, and likely higher credit, you can also refinance a variable rate loan to lock in a lower fixed rate.
Making the decision to buy your first home is a big step. One of the most uncertain parts that’s involved in buying a home is that of securing a first-time mortgage. You’ll need to know what types of programs exist to help you on your journey to homeownership. Even if you have owned a home in the past but are now renting your home, you may be eligible for first-time mortgage benefits.
The first thing you should do is understand your options for getting a mortgage. The Department of Housing and Urban Development often provides you with agents to help you see whether you will, in fact, qualify for a first time mortgage and all the benefits that go along with it. They may also help you to see exactly what programs will work best for you. You can find agencies in your specific area on the HUD website.
Each state and local municipality have its own resources for those seeking to buy a home as well. These programs may get more specific, helping low-income earners, first-time home buyers and people with disabilities. Of course, you’ll need to meet certain eligibility requirements before qualifying for the programs. Your state and local housing offices are other great places to start when you’re searching for benefits for first-time home buyers.
Save, Save, Save!
Even before you think you might be ready to buy a home, you need to start saving. You’ll need a significant down payment, especially if you’re hoping to avoid private mortgage insurance or PMI. If you can’t swing a 20% down payment, there’s good news: First-time home buyers are eligible for loans that require a lower down payment- as little as 3%!
You’ll also need a significant amount of savings to pay upfront for closing costs. These fees can come in somewhere between 3 and 4% of the purchase price of the home. It won’t be very pleasant if your bank account is completely empty by the time you reach the closing table. This is why it’s a wise idea to save long before you even think you might want to buy a home.
Look At Your Finances
In the same light of saving money, you’ll want to keep your financial health in check in order to prepare to secure your first mortgage. First, check your credit score and see where you stand. You can take the time to dispute any discrepancies you may find on your report. Then, start paying off any credit card balances that you may have. Remember that the higher your credit score is, the better your chances are of securing a mortgage and being approved for a first-time home buyer program.
Carefully document your incomeWhen you sit down with a lender and hand them your proof if income, you want to make it as obvious as possible that you're earning money in a reliable and predictable way. Lenders will want to see multiple documents that can help paint a better picture of your income and finances, including:
- Bank statements
- Schedule C tax forms
- Profit and loss tax forms
- Completed tax returns
- Credit score (they will run a credit check)