- Refinance rates fell to record lows in the summer of 2020.
- Getting a new mortgage didn't lower my monthly payments, but it's saving me money nonetheless.
- Refinancing can still make sense if you'd be able to lower your interest rate.
It was definitely a smart move.
During the summer of 2020, mortgage rates plunged to record lows in the wake of the pandemic. For new buyers, that provided a great opportunity to finance a home affordably.
But it wasn't just new buyers who got to benefit from ultra-low mortgage rates. Many existing homeowners took the opportunity to refinance their mortgages.
I was one of them. My husband and I made the decision to refinance our mortgage during the latter part of 2020. And while doing so has actually resulted in higher monthly payments for us rather than lower ones, I'm happy I went that route for a number of reasons.
A smart decision
Refinancing a mortgage will often lead to lower monthly payments. That's not what happened in my case. If anything, my monthly payments went up by a few hundred dollars a month.
But there's a reason for that. My husband and I made the decision to refinance from a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year loan. Normally, going that route would have resulted in much higher monthly payments, which wouldn't have been desirable for us. But because we were able to snag such a low interest rate on our refinance, our monthly payments didn't change all that much, and they remained affordable for us.
At the same time, we were able to shave about 1% interest off of our mortgage rate by refinancing. And between that lower rate and a shortened window for paying off our home, we stand to save tens of thousands of dollars on interest over time.
The timing was just right
You'll often hear stock investors warn not to try to time the market. Well, the same can be said for refinance candidates. It can be tricky to determine when mortgage rates are truly at their lowest, and that's a trap I almost fell into last summer.
See, my goal was to snag the lowest rate possible by timing my refinance application just right. But then my husband talked some sense into me. He convinced me to apply at a time when borrowing was inexpensive, even if it wasn't the most inexpensive.
In the end, his pep talk inspired me to get moving with our refinance application. And while mortgage rates ended up dropping very slightly after we signed our new loan, the change was negligible.
Meanwhile, fast forward to the summer of 2022, and borrowing rates are considerably higher for new purchase mortgages and refinances alike. So that's another reason I'm glad I locked in a competitive rate when I did.
Is it too late to refinance today?
The days of amazingly low refinance rates are definitely behind us for now, but that doesn't mean you won't benefit by swapping your existing home loan for a new one. Ultimately, you'll need to see if it's possible to lower the interest rate on your mortgage. If not, then you may want to hold off. But if your initial mortgage rate was high, then today's rates might still serve as a discount, and a nice one at that.
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