real estate

Low Interest Rates Reduce the Cost of Mortgages

Interest rate reductions triggered by the coronavirus crisis can create money-saving opportunities for mortgage shoppers.

As the coronavirus scare pushed the ten-year Treasury note to an all-time low and the Fed slashed the federal funds rate, interest rates for mortgages also fell, creating money-saving opportunities for would-be homeowners and current homeowners looking to refinance.

In early March, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage stood at 3.36% and the 15-year fixed mortgage averaged 2.8%. Those are the lowest rates ever recorded in Freddie Mac's survey, which dates back to 1971. But rates ticked up as mortgage brokers struggled to keep up with demand for refinancing and many lenders chose to keep rates higher than they typically would be based on the level of the 10-year Treasury. The spread between the 10-year Treasury yield and the 30-year fixed mortgage rate is near its largest since 2009.

If your mortgage rate is more than one percentage point above current rates, it's usually a sign that it makes sense to refinance. But you may benefit from a refi even if your new rate would be less than a full point lower. It depends on how long you plan to stay in your home and how long it would take to recoup closing costs.

Keep in mind that closing costs for refinancing will typically run between 3% and 6% of your new loan amount, so knowing when you plan to sell your home is essential. Say you have a $300,000, 30-year, fixed-rate loan at an interest rate of 4.4% that you took out in 2014, and you're making a monthly payment of $1,688 a month in principal and interest. If you refinance to a 30-year loan with an interest rate of 3.0% and closing costs of 3% and finance the closing costs, you would lower your mortgage payment to $1,303, saving you $385 per month. You could break even and begin saving after a bit more than three years. If you sold your home in 10 years, you would save a total of $17,457.

For help crunching the numbers, use The Mortgage Professor's refinance calculator (www.mtgprofessor.com) to enter the details of both your current mortgage and your new loan to see how long you'd have to stay in your home to start saving money on a refi.

If you are a candidate for a refi, consider waiting until the rush settles down. Would-be home buyers who have been kept out of the market by rising prices stand to benefit from lower rates and the lower monthly payments. But that could lead home prices to jump, because inventories remain tight, especially in the hot markets of the South and West.

Most Popular

Your Guide to Roth Conversions
Special Report
Tax Breaks

Your Guide to Roth Conversions

A Kiplinger Special Report
February 25, 2021
How to Calculate the Break-Even Age for Taking Social Security
social security

How to Calculate the Break-Even Age for Taking Social Security

When it comes to maximizing your Social Security benefits, there are many elements to consider. One factor that can be especially enlightening is your…
August 30, 2021
Spend Without Worry in Retirement
Financial Planning

Spend Without Worry in Retirement

Fears of running out of money prevent many retirees from tapping the nest egg they’ve worked a lifetime to save. With these strategies, you can genera…
August 30, 2021

Recommended

Child Tax Credit Payment Schedule for the Rest of 2021
Tax Breaks

Child Tax Credit Payment Schedule for the Rest of 2021

The IRS has already sent three batches of monthly child tax credit payments. Here's when you can expect the rest of your payments.
September 16, 2021
COVID-19 Home Test Kits and PPE are Tax Deductible
Tax Breaks

COVID-19 Home Test Kits and PPE are Tax Deductible

You can also pay for home testing kits and personal protective equipment with FSA and HSA funds.
September 11, 2021
How the Pandemic Is Reshaping Retirement
Making Your Money Last

How the Pandemic Is Reshaping Retirement

Inflation tops health care costs as the biggest concern, and many preretirees are boosting their saving rate.
September 8, 2021
After Surfside Collapse, 6 Crucial Steps Every Condo Board Should Take Today
real estate

After Surfside Collapse, 6 Crucial Steps Every Condo Board Should Take Today

If you manage a high-rise condo, you have got to be on the ball, because lives could be at stake. To protect your residents (and yourself, as a fiduci…
September 6, 2021