I read a lot about the economy and what the experts say about it, but I get the best feel for what is happening from talking with my clients. People need mortgage money whether the economy is up, or down, but they need it for different reasons. When the economy was flying high, a typical phone call would be about buying a new, bigger home, starting an addition to their current home or buying a vacation home. I’m still doing a fair amount of new purchases, but a lot of my calls now are about cash out refinances to consolidate debt. It always makes sense to make sure your mortgage is in line with your overall finances, but it is especially important when money is tight. A debt consolidation loan can help you to restructure your debt in a way that puts more money in your pocket and gives you a plan to actually pay down your debts.
Most people look at their home mortgage and other debt separately. For many people their home is their security and paying it off quickly is their biggest financial goal. It’s not unusual to find someone who has a 15 year mortgage because they are trying to pay down their home quickly, but also has a big balance on their credit cards. The problem here is that the mortgage rate is almost always lower, and tax deductible besides. If you are carrying a balance on your credit cards you are paying interest on the interest, and if you pay the minimum payment there is almost no way to get rid of the debt. What is your over-all debt level? Are you feeling pressure making all the payment on your credit cards and other consumer debt? This is where the debt consolidation mortgage comes in.
A debt consolidation mortgage is a type of cash-out refinance where you use the equity in your home to pay off high interest debts. If you have owned your home for a few years, chances are you’ve built up some equity. Here in the Chicago area, even in this soft real estate market, appreciation has driven home prices much higher over the last years. If you are like most people, the equity in your home may be your biggest asset or source of wealth. A debt consolidation refinance doesn’t change the amount of money you owe, what it does is restructure the type of debt. By converting credit card and consumer debt into your mortgage you can lower your monthly payments, increase your tax benefits and use the savings to pay down your debt or start a savings plan. With conventional mortgages you can remortgage up to 90% of your home’s value for a cash-out loan, but the best rates are available at 70% of the appraised value ( We do have one lender who will loan 100% of your value). With an FHA loan you can take out up to 95% of your home’s appraised value at the best rates.
Here is an example of how this works. Say you have a home that is now worth $350,000. You still owe $200,000 on your first mortgage and have a home equity loan for another $75,000 and you have credit card and consumer debt of $50,000. The monthly payments (not counting taxes and insurance) might look like this.
Principal and interest on your first mortgage $1,319
Interest on your home equity loan 375
Minimum payments on credit cards 1,200
Total payment $2,894 per month
If you refinanced this into a new FHA loan at 95% of the home’s value, you could borrow up to $332,500. This is enough to pay off all the debt, plus the closing costs and the amounts to set up the new escrow accounts. If the new rate is at 6.0% on a 30 year fixed rate – the same rate as I used in the example – here is how it turns out.
Principal and interest $2,023
Monthly mortgage insurance 140
Total payment $2,164
This means that the debt consolidation chicago mortgage refinance saves you $730 each month.
This plan has a lot of advantages, but you are increasing and extending your mortgage which can be a scary thing. Also, you need to have a plan on what you will do with the new savings. There can be a danger in this strategy. First, you are extending your mortgage and paying the loan over a longer period of time. You also need to watch how much the refinance costs. If you are paying too much for the refinance, it will be a long time before you see any benefits. But the biggest problem is that it is too easy to get back in the same trouble if you don’t change your credit habits. I’ve seen too many people who used a cash-out refinance to consolidate their debts and get a new start, only to run up their credit cards and get right back in debt. For a long term solution you need to be able to change your outlook and credit habits, too. On the other hand, if you take some of the money you saved and use it to start a monthly savings or retirement fund, or maybe shorten your mortgage so you are debt free years faster. What is best for you depends on your financial situation and your long and short term goals. Refinancing, if done properly, can be a tool to eliminate your debt and build wealth over time. Any time you take out a loan against the equity in your home you are trading some security for the cash you need, but if you have high balances on your credit cards it can be the right way to go.