With interest rates at an all-time low, many Canadians are taking advantage of the savings by refinancing their mortgages to consolidate debt, make home renovations, invest in real estate or other ventures, or moving up the property ladder.
The following are ways to take even further advantage of this excellent rate environment by paying down your mortgage faster.
Tip #1: Prepay early in the mortgage
Make extra payments as early as you can after getting a mortgage because the loans are interest-heavy upfront and the faster you pay down your principal, the more interest savings you will accumulate over the long run. Within the first five to seven years of your mortgage is where the largest portions of interest payments are contained. This not only will save you thousands of dollars in interest payments, but it will also increase the speed at which you are accumulating equity in your property. Many mortgage products allow you to make up to 20% more in payments per year.
Tip #2: Make an annual lump sum payment
Whether you use your tax refund, receive an inheritance, or get a Christmas bonus, you should apply as much as possible directly to your principal. Most lenders allow you to pay 20% in lump sum payments per year without penalty. A mortgage specialist can help you determine exactly how much you can prepay and what maximum percentage of your principal you are allowed to pay without penalty each year.
Tip #3: If your payments go down, don’t lower the payment amount
If you are on a variable-rate mortgage and the rates go down your payment will also often go down. Instead of making the lower mortgage payments, however, it’s best to call your lender and let them know that you would like to continue making payments for the original amount. A mortgage specialist can help you determine if there is a charge for making the extra payment. Even with the charge, in some cases, it is still worth it and will help you pay down your principal faster.
Tip #4: Round up your payments even if it’s just a little
If your monthly mortgage payment is $776.22 and you were to round up your payment an extra $23.78 a month to $800 – that’s less than a dollar a day – you would effectively reduce your mortgage amortization from 35 years to just over 32 years right away or from 25 years to just over 23 years.
TIP #5: Increase your payments with your pay increases
If your income increases, try not to keep your mortgage payments the same. Although the disposable income is a joy to spend on unnecessary luxuries in the short-term, the long-term benefits of being mortgage free faster and saving those interest payments will far outweigh the short-term joys. Pretend that your income did not increase and maintain the lifestyle that you are currently living.
Tip #6: Increase the frequency of your payments
You can also change the way you make your payments by opting for accelerated bi-weekly mortgage payments. Not to be confused with semi-monthly mortgage payments (24 payments per year), accelerated bi-weekly mortgage payments (26 payments per year) will not only pay your mortgage off quicker, but it’s guaranteed to save you a significant amount of money over the term of your mortgage. Basically, with accelerated bi-weekly mortgage payments, you’re making one additional monthly payment per year.