Should I Refinance?
By Barrett Niehus
Interest rates are at an all time low. Lower in fact than they have been in forty years. With this low rate comes huge opportunity for home owners to lower their payments and take some equity out of their home. The question about weather refinancing is necessary is dependent on your current financial situation, and what you will save versus how much the refinance will cost. The analysis is a simple one, but one must understand the process in order to benefit from the refinance activity.
When weighing the decision to refinance, one must simply look at your current monthly payment and your remaining payoff period. Then compare this to the monthly payments and required payoff after the refinancing activity. If the benefit of refinancing outweighs the cost of the process, then the refinance makes sense.
The easiest way to evaluate if a refinance makes sense from a quantitative sense is to list your current monthly payment the amount left on your mortgage, and the number of payments that you have left. Multiply the number of remaining payments by your current monthly mortgage payment and list this under all of the numbers.
Next to these numbers write down the amount that you are refinancing, the refinance period, and the estimated monthly payment. The payment amount can be calculated using a spreadsheet, or possibly a mortgage calculator like the one found at http://www.freetrainer.com/overview.htm. Within the amount that you are refinancing, be sure to include the cost of the refinance, origination fees, appraisal fees and transfer and escrow costs. Once again, multiply the monthly payment by the total number of payments and record this number.
If you are refinancing your current mortgage and not taking out any equity, the refinance makes the most sense if you can reduce your monthly payment, and if the total amount paid (number of payments multiplied by the monthly payment) after the refinance is less than the total amount to be paid on your current mortgage. If the monthly payment is less than your current payment, but the overall amount is greater, you must decide if paying less monthly outweighs the increased amount you will need to pay. The opposite decision is required if your payment goes up but the total amount due decreases. If in either of these situations, care must be taken and the returns evaluated carefully to make the best decision.
A caveat to the above analysis is that the amount refinanced must be equal to the existing mortgage. If the refinance amount exceeds the amount currently due on the mortgage then a much more complex analysis is needed. For this type of analysis, you will require a spread sheet with present value and amortization calculations. If you are not comfortable with these type of calculations, consult a financial advisor or accountant to assist with quantifying your decision.
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About the Author
Barrett Niehus is the Managing Director or IP Ware Real Estate Investment Analysis Software, http://www.freetrainer.com