There can be hefty costs involved in a mortgage refinance. On the flip side, there can be ample savings. Before resolving to take the plunge, you should do the math, take everything into account, and see how much you'd really save. The answer may surprise - and even delight - you.

The Cost of Home Refinancing

Just like your original loan, refinancing a mortgage loan involves closing costs. They'll generally be lower, as some fees don't apply to refinancing; but they can still be substantial. Confirm the fees that your lender will charge this time around.

Some mortgage lenders offer an option to roll the refinancing closing costs into the loan itself, known as 'roll-in' refinancing. This will result in somewhat higher monthly payments, because your loan balance is higher; but there would be no up-front costs.

Savings versus Costs

A very popular reason why people refinance is to lower their interest rates. To see how much you can save through better rates alone, use our amortization calculator. Simply enter the loan amount, interest rate, and the length of the loan to see how much interest and principal you'll be paying each month.

A couple of percentage points can make a big difference. For example, you can save $300 a month by switching your $180,000, 30-year loan from a rate of 9 percent to 7 percent. That's quite a bit of pocket change, even for those with big pockets.

However, if you do a home loan mortgage refinancing for a lower rate, it may lead to a smaller tax deduction, and, in effect, higher income taxes. It's an overlooked cost of refinancing. Look at your tax bracket to figure out the impact it will have on on your tax return. For instance, if you're in the 25 percent tax bracket, and a mortgage refinance will lower your monthly interest payment by $200, taxes will claim $50 of that savings. As a result, your true savings will be $150 a month.

Refinancing can also help you lose those pesky PMI payments, especially if your home has increased in value since you bought it. (Check your current mortgage statement to see how much PMI is costing you now). As long as the new loan amount is lower than 80 percent of the property value, you can end your PMI payments.

The Bottom Line

If you're stuck in a high-interest loan, refinancing today may save you a lot of money. Lowering your rate just a couple of percentage points may let you recoup the closing costs in a matter of months. However, before you leap, look at the numbers. Preparation makes for great savings and no unanticipated surprises.


Published on May 1, 2006