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Understanding the basics of mortgage loans

Today’s interest rates really are as low as they have ever been, and using them to your advantage is a great way to get ahead in the game.

When choosing what to write in this article, it seemed natural to touch on something we deal with on a daily basis. The question: Is now the “perfect” time to purchase or refinance? I wish I could answer that assuredly, but there really is no way to know when the “perfect” time will be. We can approximate when the market may hit bottom or when interest rates will rise again, but it truly is speculation. We can also provide sound advice on how to properly align you for financial success based on historical data. Today’s interest rates really are as low as they have ever been, and using them to your advantage is a great way to get ahead in the game.

For example: The difference in 1.00% on a $200,000 loan amount equates to approximately $120/month in interest savings. This would then equate to $1,440 annually or $43,200 over the life of a 30-year loan!

For those of you that own homes, there are important questions to ask yourself. Our most frequently asked question is, “How much do I need to lower my current rate for refinancing to be worth it”? There is no set answer to this question (although you will generally hear at least a 1% decrease). Every scenario is unique and you must take into account all factors of your financial situation.

            Here are a few examples that may assist you in making a good decision:

            1. When lowering your rate and/or payment, consider the savings versus the costs associated as well as how long you will have the loan. This will assist in understanding the recoup time of the costs and if the loan makes sense for you.

            2. Consolidating debt – Consider what rates you are paying on revolving or installment debt and the terms of each loan. If paying off this debt with equity from your home, consider making the same monthly payment as the combined liabilities to decrease the interest you would pay over a longer term.

            3. Lowering the length of your current mortgage – What is the new payment and is it comfortable on a monthly basis? If this answer is yes, then it makes great financial sense to lower the term (and you will also be benefited with a lower rate than longer term loans). This will greatly reduce the amount of interest paid over the life of the loan.

            4. Cash out for living expenses (i.e. – college education, business, retirement, etc.) – Mortgage interest offers great benefits through low rates and tax deductibility. Contact your financial advisor or accountant for clarity on your specific scenario.

For those considering a home purchase, here are some things to keep in mind:

            1. How long will you own the home? When purchasing a home you should be thinking years in advance, not months.

            2. Are you able to save money at your current monthly housing obligation and would you be able to continue if you purchased a home? If the answer is no, then home ownership may be down the road or you may look for something that is more affordable.

            3. Do you have money saved for expenses outside of down payment and closing costs? If it is a stretch to make ends meet, you may be better served by saving this money before buying. Home ownership is more expensive than renting, and you should go into it eyes wide open.

            4. Will your payment be higher or lower than renting? Many times my clients are surprised by how affordable owning a home can be. Be honest with yourself about what a comfortable monthly payment is and you could begin reaping the benefits of home ownership sooner than later.

Although there are more factors than those listed, I hope this gives you a starting point. Another important aspect is placing trust in the individual you choose to work with. Your mortgage professional should be educated on market trends and perform routine follow up to insure your needs are being met. Choose a professional that will be there for you now and in the future.

Lonnie Knob, branch manager of Envoy Mortgage in Grand Junction, has been serving the home financing needs of Grand Valley and Colorado residents for more than 10 years. A full-service mortgage bank, Envoy Mortgage offers state-of-the-art technology, from e-signatures to automated milestone notifications. For more information, call 424-5585 or visit the Web site at www.envoymortagage.com
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