dcsimg
We research, you save.
Got Questions On Rates? (855) 610-2972

What's happening with home prices in the 100 largest metropolitan areas? See HSH's updated "Home Price Recovery Index" to find out!

I have 3 years left on my loan, should I refinance?

By   |  Posted in Ask The Expert

Q: I have three years remaining on a 15-year loan with a 6 percent fixed rate. I would like a lower rate. Please advise which would be the best option. Thank you.

A: Refinancing can be a situation of diminishing returns after you reach a certain point of your mortgage. In your case, you note that have only three years remaining of an original 15 year term. With a $100,000 original loan amount at the 6 percent rate you cite, you were slated to spend about $52,000 in interest over the 15-year period. But now that you're starting year 13, you have already paid some $49,000 of interest, with only $3,000 left to go.

Certainly, you can get a lower interest rate if you refinance. However, your remaining loan balance is only about $27,000 (given the $100,000 example above), and few lenders will touch such a small loan. There's just as much paperwork for a small loan as a $400,000 loan, but a lot less interest to be made. Even if you do find a mortgage lender who will take on your loan, you'll be charged a premium on the interest rate or fees, which will eat up some of any savings you might be able to obtain. With only $3,000 left in interest cost, it will be nearly impossible to save any money once the refinance costs are paid, and even then, you'll need to obtain the shortest loan term you can and prepay the loan just to keep from increasing your costs over time.

For example, if you could obtain a 3 percent rate on a 10-year term, your $27,000 loan balance would see you spend about $4,200 in interest over the next 10 years, about $1,200 more than you presently owe, plus you'll have fees to pay on top. If you want to prepay the loan so the term isn't extended, preserving the savings of the lower interest rate, you'll need to prepay it at a rate of $500 per month. Doing so would lower the interest cost to $1,300, so you'll save $1,700 in interest, but still have the fees to obtain the loan to consider. The net benefit after all this work might be measured in only hundreds of dollars.

In short, technically yes, it can be done, but the benefits are so slight as to raise the question: "Why bother?"

You can run your particular numbers through our mortgage calculator to see for yourself.

More help from HSH.com

  • 10 metros where a home costs about $1,000/month

    HSH.com identifies 10 metro areas where you can afford the principal, interest, taxes and insurance payments on a median-priced home for only around $1,000 per month.
  • Home price recovery index: Which metros have improved the most, least?

    Have home prices in your area fully recovered from the declines suffered during the Great Recession, or are they still struggling to make it back to the peaks they reached before the crisis?
  • How do I know refinancing will be affordable?

    After to determine the goal of your refinance, deciding whether that goal makes sense (or not), given your personal situation, depends on a combination of factors.
  • The salary you must earn to buy a home in 27 metros

    Here’s how much salary you would need to earn in order to afford the median-priced home in your city.
  • VA Funding Fee: 5 facts you need to know

    One slight drawback of securing a VA loan is that borrowers often have to pay a fee, known as the “VA Funding Fee.” Here are five facts you need to know about the VA Funding Fee and how it works.