Sunday, 1 May 2011
7 Easy Ways to Trim Your Mortgage Costs
As with most homeowners, your mortgage payment is probably your largest monthly expense. Wouldn't it be nice to trim this huge cost and perhaps shorten the life of your loan? We have listed seven tips below to help save you money on your mortgage.
1. Add One Extra Payment Each Year
Perhaps the easiest way to save money on your mortgage is to make an extra mortgage payment each year. These extra payments are automatically applied on your principal, not interest. Not only does your remaining balance drop, but you will not have to pay interest each month on that principal for the remainder of the loan term.
2. Set up Bi-Weekly Payments
Another trick to pay off your loan early is by creating a bi-weekly payment plan. Put half of your monthly mortgage payment in a savings account every other Friday (or, on your pay day). Each month, pay your mortgage from the account. At the end of the year, you will have made 26 half payments, which is 13 full payments. This will leave with you an extra payment that you can put toward your principal. Most people manage the separate accounts themselves, but there are companies that you can hire to act as an escrow service and manage the payments for you. Beware that they could charge you for this service.
3. Get Rid of Your PMI
If your down payment was less than 20 percent, you were probably required to pay private mortgage insurance. However, you can petition your lender to cancel the insurance as soon as your mortgage balance falls below 80 percent of the home's appraised value. This can happen if your home's value has gone up or you have repaid some of the principal. This may require a new appraisal but could shave hundreds of dollars off your monthly payment.
4. Reduce Your Assessment
Property taxes can cost thousands of dollars a year. If you think your home's value has decreased in the last year and it was not properly accounted for in your tax assessment, you can petition your assessor and fight your assessment. Lowering your tax assessment will lower your yearly taxes.
5. Reset Your Mortgage
This is not commonly known, but some lenders will reset (recast) your monthly payment if you make a large payment towards the principal of your mortgage. Your monthly payment stays the same, but the term of your loan shortens. When the loan is recast, your monthly principal and interest is recalculated so you end up with a lower monthly payment over the existing term of the loan.
6. Modify Your Loan
If you are late on your payments and are going through a financial hardship, you may be eligible to modify terms of your loan (such as rate, term, or principal balance) to make it more affordable. The goal of these programs is to allow borrowers to stay in their homes and continue making their monthly payments. Not everyone qualifies for these types of programs, but if you do, they can save you a lot of money. To find out if you qualify, contact the servicer of your mortgage.
Lastly, the most common way to save money on your mortgage is by refinancing to a lower interest rate. Reducing your rate can lower your monthly payment and help you save on interest payments. However, there are costs associated with refinancing so you want to be sure you are going to save enough to cover the refinancing fees. With rates at historic lows, if you can refinance, and you haven't already, you should consider it.