When you take out a mortgage with a fixed interest rate, you expect to be locked into the same monthly payment for the life of the loan. But that’s not necessarily the case — many homeowners can benefit by refinancing their mortgage at a lower interest rate.
Before you can decide whether it’s worth it to refinance, get a handle on the numbers involved. How many more years do you have on your current loan, and what’s your current interest rate? How much do you still owe? Will you be borrowing the same amount, or are you hoping to cash out some equity?
Now, turn your attention to the new loan you’re hoping to get. What kind of interest rate can you expect? Some say it’s not worth it to refinance unless you’re knocking off an entire percentage point (e.g. going from a 5% interest rate to 4%, for example), but that rule can be misleading. If you’re planning on staying in the home for several more years, even a small reduction in your interest rate can make a big difference. If you’re a little hazy on the math, Trulia’s refinance calculator can help demystify things.
Once you know what kind of interest rates are available now, find out how much closing costs are likely to be. That’s right. Closing costs aren’t just an issue when you buy a house. You pay closing costs again when you refinance, although they’ll be lower this time.