In my last blog post we started discussing the various reasons that a homeowner would look into refinancing a mortgage. We touched on the conversions between adjustable rate and fixed rate mortgages, and the shortening of the mortgage’s term. In this post, we’ll touch on the remaining (common) reasons for refinancing.
Getting A Lower Interest Rate
As with the switch between adjustable rate and fixed rate mortgages, the goal is to save money via interest rates on the loan. When seeking a lower interest rate, it’s always necessary to switch between rate-types. In an environment where interest rates are low, mortgage holders (with fixed rates) may seek out refinancing to obtain another, fixed-rate mortgage with a lower rate. The general rule is to only seek out refinancing if there is an opportunity to reduce the interest rate by 1-2%, anything less will not be worth the upfront costs of the refinance.
Debt Consolidation or Accessing Equity
These are some of the most common reasons that mortgage holders will consider refinancing, but they are also the reasons that carry the most risk, from a personal finance perspective.
Some mortgage holders will look to refinancing in order to access their home equity. The justifications for this move will vary. Some will use the equity to pay off remodeling, which can increase the value of the house, or to purchase more property, which can be a great investment. Others will use the equity to to cover large personal expenses, or pay off other debts.
Other mortgage holders will refinance to try to consolidate their debts; the idea of reducing high interest debt with lower interest debt makes sense on paper. However, many people who are refinancing for this purpose alone will not necessarily be saved from their high-interest (ie: credit card) debt forever. It’s likely that they will accrue more high interest debt with the available credit the refinancing has allowed them.
For a great breakdown of how mortgage rates are quoted, view this video by Khan Academy: