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Refinancing Myths Debunked: What You Really Need to Know

3 Min Read • 05/02/2024

Refinancing a mortgage can be a smart financial decision under the right circumstances, but misconceptions can deter homeowners from pursuing it. Understanding the facts can help you make an informed choice about whether refinancing is right for you. Here, we debunk some of the most common myths surrounding refinancing.

Myth 1: You Can Only Refinance If You Have Perfect Credit

Reality: While a higher credit score can secure better interest rates, perfect credit is not a prerequisite for refinancing. Many lenders offer refinancing options for those with less than perfect credit scores. Various government programs are specifically designed to help homeowners who have lower credit scores refinance their mortgages under more favorable conditions.

Myth 2: Refinancing Always Reduces Your Monthly Payments

Reality: Refinancing can lower your monthly payments, but this isn’t guaranteed. The outcome depends on several factors, including the new loan’s interest rate, term length, and whether you’re taking out additional cash. Refinancing to a shorter loan term, for example, might increase your monthly payments but save you money on interest over the life of the loan.

Myth 3: You Should Refinance Only If You Can Reduce Your Interest Rate by at Least 1%

Reality: The “1% rule” is a common guideline, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all truth. Even a smaller decrease in the interest rate can yield substantial savings, particularly if the loan amount is large or if you plan to stay in your home for a long time. Additionally, refinancing might be worthwhile if you’re switching from an adjustable-rate mortgage to a fixed-rate mortgage for more predictable monthly payments.

Myth 4: Refinancing Is Too Expensive to Be Worthwhile

Reality: While refinancing does involve costs — typically ranging from 2% to 6% of the loan amount — the long-term savings can far outweigh these initial expenses. Moreover, some lenders offer “no-cost” refinancing, which doesn’t charge upfront fees, instead incorporating these costs into the loan through a slightly higher interest rate. It’s important to calculate both your upfront costs and potential savings to see if refinancing makes financial sense.

Myth 5: It Takes Too Long to Recoup the Costs of Refinancing

Reality: The break-even point — when your savings from refinancing equal the costs incurred — varies based on the specifics of your new loan and current financial situation. By calculating how long it will take to reach this point, you can determine if refinancing is a sound financial move. For many, the break-even point comes much sooner than expected, especially with substantial rate reductions.

Myth 6: You Can Only Refinance Your Mortgage Once

Reality: There’s no limit to how many times you can refinance your mortgage as long as you meet lender requirements. Homeowners might choose to refinance multiple times to capitalize on falling interest rates, cash out equity for large purchases, or change their loan terms as their financial situations evolve.

Refinancing can offer significant financial benefits, but it’s important to understand the realities rather than relying on common myths. By dispelling these myths, homeowners can better assess when and how refinancing might help achieve their financial goals. Always consider consulting with a financial advisor to thoroughly evaluate your specific circumstances and the potential benefits of refinancing your mortgage.

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