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Cash-Out Mortgage Refinancing: Does it Make Sense for You?

In general, when interest rates are on the rise, homeowners don’t refinance their mortgages. This makes sense because many people choose to refinance in order to reduce their monthly payments. When refinances are initiated during periods of rising interest rates, though, the reasoning behind them is often quite different. 

Why Refinance When Interest Rates are High? 

In most cases, when a homeowner decides to refinance their mortgage when the interest rates are high or rising, the action is fueled by the desire to “cash out.” This means that the new mortgage is larger than the balance due on the old one with the excess money being used to fund other, discretionary purchases. 

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Should You Refinance Your Mortgage Now?

By now, nearly everyone has heard about the Federal Reserve Bank’s surprise move to keep interest rates steady at their last meeting. In fact, the Feds even went so far as to indicate that they likely wouldn’t raise interest rates again in 2019. This is good news for those who were in the market to purchase a home but who were concerned about the effects of the incremental interest rate hikes would have on their bottom line. 

What About Refinancing? 

What might not be as clear is whether the Feds’ “patient approach” to the possibility of future interest rate increases means that it’s a good time for current holders of a mortgage to refinance. While keeping in mind that it’s possible that interest rates might start to fall — which would make refinancing even more attractive — there are other considerations you should think about as well. 

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Celebrate the Spring Home Buying Season with Lower Interest Rates

In March, the Federal Reserve Bank surprised everyone by not raising interest rates. In fact, the agency stated that it would likely not raise interest rates again in 2019. This announcement came quickly on the heels of their policy generated just six weeks ago. At that time, the agency indicated that they would take a patient stance about the market when it came to deciding about future hikes in the interest rate. 

Sparking Home Buying Interest

While the most popular home buying season of the year — spring — is already underway, the announcement by the Federal Reserve Bank to hold off on any interest rate increases for the rest of the year will provide it with a much-needed boost. Even though interest rates in 2018 continued to be low compared to other years, the fact that they kept increasing made some people reconsider whether buying a home was in their best financial interest. That misgiving is now no longer an issue which should prompt a renewed flurry of mortgages throughout 2019 and starting with the spring. 

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What Does it Mean to Buy Down Your Mortgage Rate?

Buy Down Your Mortgage Rate

One way of doing so is to buy down your mortgage rate. This is accomplished by paying for mortgage points. These mortgage points — sometimes they’re referred to as closing points or discount points — are a fee that is paid to the mortgage broker or lender. In exchange for the payment of mortgage points, you receive a discount. For example, one percent of the loan’s total amount for each mortgage point paid. 

Mortgage Points Explained

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Want to Qualify for the Best Mortgage Rate? Do These 3 Things First

Purchasing a home is not only likely to be the biggest investment you’ll ever make, but it is also the largest debt you’ll assume in your lifetime. It pays to do your research when it comes to ways to qualify for the lowest mortgage rate. After all, just a couple of percentage points can make the difference in you paying thousands of dollars more over the course of the loan.

1. Check Your Credit Score

Your credit score is the single most important item when it comes to securing the best mortgage rate. Being able to improve it takes time so ideally. you should start by taking a look at your credit score at least several months before you actually want to apply for a mortgage.

According to myFICO.com, the difference you’ll be if you have the highest credit range and one that’s average is about $33,000 in total interest over the course of the loan. Ways to improve your credit score include checking your credit report for mistakes, paying off credit card debt, spending only 20 to 30 percent of your credit limit and paying your bills on time each month.

2. Determine the Best Mortgage Type

While some mortgages are limited to a certain sector of the population — the military, for example, or those who meet certain income guidelines — you can usually categorize them as either those that are backed by the federal government and conventional loans. About 65 percent of all mortgages in the United States are those issued by private lenders such as credit unions, thrift institutions, mortgage companies and commercial banks. In some cases, these conventional loans might also be guaranteed by agencies that have government ties like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Government-backed loan programs are also offered by private lenders, but the federal government acts as the full or partial guarantor. In general, these loans have lower down payments and credit score expectations than conventional mortgages. There are usually more flexible borrowing and income requirements. With these advantages, though, come stipulations regarding the loan. The borrower might live at the property as their primary residence and it cannot be used to generate rental income or as an investment.

3. Look at Loan Terms

Regardless of the mortgage lender you deal with, they are looking to reduce the risks they take by offering you a loan. This means that a shorter loan term — such as a 15-year mortgage instead of the typical 30-day mortgage — will net you a more attractive interest rate. The payoff is that your monthly payments will be much higher.

As an example, if you pay an interest rate of 4.23 percent on a $260,000 mortgage loan for 15 years, your monthly payment will be about $1,953. Secure that same loan amount and mortgage rate for 30 years and your monthly payments will only be about $1,276. By doing that, though, you’ll be paying an extra $100,000 in interest of the life of the loan.

There are a number of factors that go into the search for the lowest rate. The above three provide you with some flexible options to suit your particular situation.

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