If you haven't joined the legions of refinancers yet, you're still in luck. Mortgage interest rates have lingered in a narrow range since the beginning of the year, with a low of 6.8 percent in mid January for a 30-year-fixed rate to a high of 7.19 percent in mid-March.
Those rates are averages, calculated weekly by Freddie Mac. What you find in your own area may vary a little, but not by much.You can check rates online easily. For example, Quicken has a site that gives you a range of rates for each state, including less popular loans such as a 10-year fixed rate mortgage. The site is (www.quickenmortgage.
Right now in most places, you can find a 30-year mortgage for about 7.125 percent with no points or at 7 percent with one point. If you decide to cut your long-term interest payments and go for a 15-year loan, the rate will be lower, about 6.75 percent.
These are the two most popular options, but you can find other terms to meet your needs. For instance, 20-year mortgages are a nice compromise between an endless 30-year loan and a high-payment 15-year term.
Another possibility is a 10-year loan. The cost is high, but you pay more on principal than on interest from day one. And if you are well into a mortgage already and don't want to start all over, this short loan may be appealing.
Suppose you started out 10 years ago with a 30-year mortgage of $130,000 and an interest rate of 8.1 percent. You've been paying $962 a month for all those years and still, your mortgage balance is pretty high - $114,276. By refinancing:
- You could get rid of mortgage payments altogether in just 10 years with a monthly payment of $1,319 at 6.8 percent interest. That's a hefty $357 more than you've been paying, but if you can manage that amount, you'll own your house free and clear early in 2009.
- If that payment leaves you gulping, consider a 15-year loan, which would require a monthly outlay of $1,011 at 6.75 percent, a much easier transition.
- Maybe you're at the stage where you want to pay less for your mortgage, not more. You could get a 20-year loan at 7.125 percent and a monthly payment of $894, a savings of $68.
- You're strapped with tuition, car and credit card payments and looking for relief. Refinance that $114,276 into a new 30-year mortgage at 7.125 percent and the payment drops to $769, saving you a tidy $193 a month. The down side, of course, is that it would take you another 30 years to pay off this mortgage.
Quicken is offering a $225 rebate to mortgage applicants or refinancers who apply online through Quicken's site (www.quickenmortgage.com) and actually close the loan. There are 11 lenders at the site, including Chase, Countrywide, North American and PNC.