When borrowers want to lower their monthly mortgage payment, the automatic response is to refinance, and that’s correct. When interest rates fall, it can make sense to refinance to the lower rates and savings on principal and interest each month. A quick conversation with a loan officer can guide borrowers into making the correct decision and decide if refinancing, along with its associated costs, makes sense. But there are other ways to make your mortgage payment easier beyond lowering an interest rate. Your principal and interest, taxes, and insurance should all be evaluated.
What is the term on your current loan? Most mortgage loans in today's’ market have loan terms from 10 to 30 years in five year increments. Mortgage lenders offer 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 year terms. If you have a shorter term loan but want to lower your monthly payment, extending your loan to a longer term will cause your payment to drop. The drawback with this strategy is more interest over the long term so make this decision wisely.
When was the last time you took a hard look at your property taxes? We all get our property tax bill to see what our taxes will be but savvy homeowners question the new value. You don’t have to accept the higher property value if you feel it’s too high. The county assessor’s office doesn’t physical appraise every property but compare recent sales in the area with yours. There are no adjustments made but typically a “price per square foot” value is assessed. If you feel your assessment is too high, you can hire the services of a licensed residential appraiser to come up with the value you feel is more realistic and file a protest for a hearing.
Finally, make sure you have enough insurance coverage but talk to your insurance agent about how you can lower your premium while still providing adequate coverage. If you feel more comfortable with a higher deductible and that deductible is acceptable to your lender, you can lower the cost of your insurance and your overall mortgage payment each month.