Are you feeling weighed down by the years remaining on your mortgage? Worried about when you should lock in your variable rate, or unsure of refinancing with rates on the rise? Getting a good interest rate is crucial, but there's a lot more you can do to ensure that you are mortgage free sooner. Flexibility and options are key - and the advice of an unbiased mortgage professional can help you make the most of these alternatives.
The experts suggest the following:
1. Match your mortgage payments with your pay periods. Not only does it make budgeting easier, but if you have bi-weekly payments you'll be making an extra payment each year (and you won't even feel it!)
2. Shorten your amortization. If you can budget for the higher monthly payments, this will help you build equity faster and take years off your mortgage.
3. Use your pre-payment option. Many people get a mortgage with this feature, but only 3% actually take advantage of it. A few hundred here and there can add up to thousands saved later on.
4. Income increasing? Consider permanently increasing your payments to match. Again, you won't feel the strain, but your equity is increasing and interest decreasing with every extra dollar you put in.
5. Most mortgages allow a lump sum payment in any one calendar year - and if you don't use it, you lose it. Just because you don't have a huge sum to put away doesn't mean it isn't worth it. Even small extra payments could pay big dividends later.
6. Shop around for better terms at renewal. Although it seems easier to just sign the form your bank sends, most people renew at rates higher than what they could have achieved if they had negotiated. Your mortgage professional is not just there for the purchase, but throughout the life of your mortgage.