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Home Refinancing-When Should You Refinance Your Loan?

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Everybody would love to have a little more money in their pocket, and many people are finding out that home refinancing can actually give them some extra cash at the end of the month. But all to often people jump in feet first, and end up spending more money than they save when they refinance their loan. So let's start by first looking at when refinancing is a good decision.

Clearly the first thing to look at is your current mortgage. If you have an adjustable rate, a fixed rate loan at a low rate can normally save you money in the long run. Adjustable rate mortgages are good if you get your loan when rates are high, but in current rate environment they just don't make sense. If you can lock in a low rate, you will clearly save money over the length of the loan. When rates go back up, and they always do, you'll still have a great rate on your loan.

Something else to consider is if you have a pending balloon payment. Maybe it snuck up on you and you're not prepared or simply don't have the money to pay. Refinancing could be your only option. Also find out if the rate you're paying now is higher than the current market rate. If it is, you should definitely look into refinancing. All it takes is one-quarter of one percent difference in the rate to make a huge difference on a 30 year mortgage.

Of course that all sound great but naturally there are some things to look out for as well. Carefully examine the closing costs. Refinancing is not free and some of the costs associated with it can be pretty significant. Once you know the costs, do some figuring to determine how long it will take to to recover that money from the savings you see each month.

All to often people move before their savings exceed what they spend in closing costs. This is just like burning money. If you might be moving soon, refinancing is probably not a wise decision. Plan on being in your current home at least long enough to get back what you spend.

Also determine if your new loan has a pre-payment penalty. Most of them will, at an average cost of 2-5 years. This can hurt your bank account in two ways. Again if you are moving and will be taking out a new loan, or if you simply decide you want to pay it off early. Either way, you have to consider the money you will spend in penalties and compare it to how much you are saving monthly.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you'll want to look at your monthly payment. This is especially true if you're planning on taking advantage of a cash out option. The cash out option will give you spending money now, but it will also increase the balance on your loan. If your new interest rate is not significantly lower than what you are currently paying, your monthly payment could go up just because the balance is higher. You want a rate low enough that your payments will go down, in spite of the fact that your balance increases.

Clearly there are a lot of potential advantages to home refinancing. But doing it at the wrong time can be very costly. Make sure you check all the savings against the fees and the outside factors such as a potential move. If it all makes sense, shop around for a good lender. You'll be surprised at how different their terms can be. Don't be afraid to ask friends and relatives for recommendations.

Making the right choice can pay off for many years to come.
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