Still, for some homeowners with retirement on their minds, it makes sense to trade their higher mortgage rate for one near record lows, said Keith Gumbinger, vice president of HSH.com, a publisher of mortgage and consumer loan information. The money saved each month on your mortgage can be poured into other investments that could pay off in retirement, “whether that’s a 401(k) or IRA or cleaning up other debts,” he said.
If you haven’t refinanced in the past few years, your monthly savings can be substantial. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.34% for the week ending Dec. 6, while the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.67%, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of conforming rates. For those with a current mortgage rate near 5%, refinancing could mean significant improvement to their monthly cash flow.
Consider this: A homeowner who’s 52 today and who wants to retire at 70 bought a home in 2002 with a $250,000 mortgage. He refinanced at 5% in 2003. If he refinanced again into a 3.49%, 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, his payment would go down $415 a month, according to Gumbinger’s math.
The downside is the loan wouldn’t be retired until he is 82, and it would cost $3,432 more in interest over its lifetime than if he didn’t refinance. To make that kind of trade-off work for you, it’s critical to ensure the increased cash flow is used productively.