The rate of interest on a loan, expressed as a percentage.
The general rule of thumb is that refinancing to a fixed-rate loan makes the most sense when interest rates are low. While no one can predict whether rates will go up or down in the future, many homeowners are currently taking advantage of today’s low rates to refinance from their adjustable-rate mortgage to a new fixed-rate mortgage. If you are among those who are considering this move, here are some points to be aware of.
The main benefit is stability. While an adjustable-rate loan’s monthly payments can fluctuate, the monthly payment of principal and interest on a fixed-rate loan will stay the same throughout the life of the loan. This can make it easier to set your monthly budget, and can also provide peace of mind. With a fixed-rate loan, even if market interest rates go up, your principal and interest payments won’t.
Fixed-rate loans tend to have higher interest rates than adjustable-rate loans, especially compared to the first years of an adjustable-rate loan when often times the interest is fixed for a specified period of time (typically 5, 7, or 10 years at the maximum). In addition, if you have a fixed-rate loan and interest rates fall, your principal and interest payments won’t decrease.
Any time you refinance, you’ll be responsible for paying closing costs. In addition, if you extend the term of your home loan (for example, by taking out another 30-year mortgage after you’ve already owned your home and made mortgage payments for 5 years), you may pay more in total interest expenses over the life of the new refinance loan compared to your existing mortgage. You may be able to avoid this situation by making monthly payments towards the new, lower fixed rate loan in an amount equal to or greater than what you previously paid towards the original loan. It’s important to discuss your situation with your lender to ensure that you’re comfortable with how these costs will impact your overall financial picture.
If you choose to refinance to a fixed-rate loan, you may also have the opportunity to make additional changes to your loan at the same time. Depending on your circumstances, you may also be able to lower your monthly payments, shorten your loan term, or borrow from a portion of your available home equity. Talk to your lender about what you’d like to accomplish and see what’s achievable for your situation.