Why Should I Refinance My Home?

refinanceReal estate can be an excellent investment, but since most do not have the money to purchase a home up front, it is usually necessary to use a mortgage. Mortgages are a long term loan and, like any loan, there are sometimes when it may be in your best interest to refinance the mortgage.

Refinancing a mortgage simply means taking the total amount owed and transferring it to a new mortgage and possibly a new lender. While there can be many advantages to this, it is important to determine if refinancing is right for you, as it is necessary to pay closing costs, similar to those paid when the home was purchased.

Refinancing to Change the Term or Rate

There are many different reasons to refinance a home, but the most common reason is to change the term or rate.

Refinancing to change the rate involves taking out a new mortgage that has a lower interest rate. Refinancing to change the term means taking out a new mortgage, which has a lower length than the previous mortgage. Often, people will do both and refinance to change the term and rate. Knowing when to refinance the term or rate involves identifying your break even point.

Refinancing to Cash Out or Consolidate Debt

Refinancing a mortgage to cash out is the process of taking out a loan and using it to remove the equity from the loan. Equity is the amount of money you have put towards the principal of the loan.

So, for example on a $100,000 mortgage, after 10 years, the total owed to the bank is $85,000. This means there is $15,000 in equity in the home. A Cash out loan will give the borrower $15,000 in cash, but they will start over owing the lender $100,000.

In practice, however, cashing out a loan usually also includes the appreciation of the home. For example, in the above example, say that in those 10 years, the value of the home increased by $20,000. Now, even though the homeowner has only paid $15,000 in equity, technically, they have $35,000. This is the amount of actual equity plus the value of the appreciation.

This means that instead of only receiving $15,000 the homeowner could take out a $120,000 mortgage on their home.

Consolidating Debt works similarly, but involves bringing other debts, such as medical bills, credit card bills, or school costs into the loan. So, for example if the borrower owed $20,000 in student loans, they could add this to their mortgage and spread out the payments over the life of the mortgage.

These types of loans are the most heavily advertised, as they are the most profitable for the lender. However, it is not always in the best interest of the homeowner, because ultimately you are taking a big step backwards. With that said, cash out loans and consolidating debt can be a great way to pay off other lines of credit and bring them together under one large loan.

Refinancing to Remove Someone From the Loan

Another common reason for refinancing a mortgage is to remove someones name from the deed. Often this is after a divorce, but it could be a friend, relative, or business partner who simply wants to move in a different direction.

Whenever there are multiple people on the deed of a home, each person is considered to have an interest in the home. It is not even truly necessary for the person to be on the deed, because, as is the case with certain gifts, warranty deeds are often issued. Warranty Deeds indicate that others have an interest in the property and even though their name may not appear on the deed itself, if anyone buys the home, they will need to have all parties removed.

Since there are a number of instances where there is a need to remove someones name from a deed, often refinancing is the quickest and easiest way to remove the name. This can be especially tricky in cases of divorce, because even though a court may assign ownership of a home to one person or the other, this ruling is not honored by the lender.

Refinancing to Remove Private Mortgage Insurance(PMI)

Private Mortgage Insurance(PMI) is sometimes required on mortgages with less than 20% down. It is a type of insurance that covers the risk to the lender. It does not cover the entire cost of the home, but instead only the 20% down-payment.

In some cases, the PMI may be tax deductible, so there is little incentive to remove it, however if it is not and the homeowner has at least 80% equity in the home, refinancing to remove the PMI may be a good idea. It is important to note that it is the homeowners obligation to remove PMI and typically the bank will make no effort to have it removed.

Refinancing to Avoid Foreclosure

Typically, the foreclosure process begins when the homeowner misses three consecutive payments, however recent legislation has made it a little bit more difficult for lenders to foreclose in some cases. Even once a home has entered into the foreclosure process, it is almost always possible to reverse it, providing the missed payments are made up.

There are several loans, often called Foreclosure Bailouts, which are designed to allow the homeowner to refinance the home, any missed payments, and any fees owed to collections agencies. However, it is very important to be careful when accepting foreclosure bailouts, as they are a type of subprime mortgage.

Initially, they offer relief, but over time it ends up costing the homeowner much more. Of course, when facing foreclosure, often subprime mortgages are the only option.

Other Reasons to Refinance

There are a number of other reasons why refinancing a home may be a good idea. For example, if the home has liens on it, it is sometimes possible to refinance and remove the liens, absorbing them into the total loan amount.

It is also becoming common to refinance a home and take out additional funds for remodeling. For example, if the home needs a new roof, but the homeowner can not afford to pay for it, it is sometimes possible to refinance to include the cost of the renovations.

When Not to Refinance

For each reason to refinance, there is a reason not to. Many of the offers most homeowners receive to refinance are from subprime lenders and while they may seem like a good offer at first, will end up costing the homeowner much more in fees.

It is always important to explore all of your options and make sure you calculate the break even point, which is the number of months it will take for the closing costs associated with refinancing to be offset by the saving of refinancing. There is no set rule, but it is generally not recommended to refinance if the break even point is greater than 48 months.

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