5 Reasons for a Mortgage Refinance Other Than Lowering Your Payment
By: Barbara Eisner Bayer, Published: October 22, 2010
There’s more to a mortgage refinance than lowering your monthly payments.
Naturally, if you’re paying 6% for your mortgage and you can refinance at 5%, you’re gonna do it. Although cutting your monthly payment remains an important motive, there are at least five other reasons to consider a mortgage refinance, for long-term savings and convenience.
1. Change your mortgage term
If you decrease the term of your mortgage in a refinance by going from a 30-year to a 15-year, you’ll pay a lower interest rate and shorten your total interest costs. You’ll build home equity more quickly, and pay off your loan sooner, even though your monthly payments go up.
2. Move from an adjustable rate to a fixed rate
ARMs offer low introductory rates, but they also offer long periods of uncertainty that make it hard to budget. It makes sense in a mortgage refinance to go from an ARM to a fixed-rate loan during a low-interest rate environment. You’ll get emotional security and your rate won’t fluctuate with changing economic conditions.
3. Take out cash
With a cash-out mortgage refinance, you can turn an intangible asset—accumulated home equity—into a tangible one—cash. It makes sense for a project that will generate long-term benefits, like a home improvement or funding a child’s college education. However, don’t do it for frivolous reasons. Unless you’re extremely disciplined, you could find yourself in even deeper debt.
4. Consolidate two mortgages
When interest rates are low, a mortgage refinance lets you consolidate your main mortgage and an outstanding home equity loan to realize a lower overall monthly payment. Plus, you’ll have only one mortgage payment to make each month.
5. Recover from divorce
If your home is jointly owned with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, a mortgage refinance will turn a joint obligation into the responsibility of the person keeping the home. Nothing is more frustrating than tracking down a former spouse who doesn’t keep up with his or her end of the mortgage payment.
Lay the groundwork
If one of these reasons resonates with you, contact your current lender to see if it’ll offer you preferred rates or reduced closing costs on a mortgage refinance. But don’t assume the current lender is best: Leave no stone unturned by searching for lenders online and calling community banks and local credit unions.
No matter which lender you choose, a mortgage refinance for the right reasons can save you lots of money—and that’s the best reason of all.
Barbara Eisner Bayer has written about mortgages and personal finance for the past 16 years for the Motley Fool, Mortgages.com, and Nursevillage.com, and has been the Managing Editor of MortgageLoan.com, CompleteGrowth.com, and Credit-land.com. She has recently survived the challenge of refinancing her second home.