7 Refinance Questions to Ask Yourself

Cardinal Financial July 2, 2018 | 6 min read
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Ask yourself these refinance questions and get a better understanding of the right time to refi.


There are several different ways to refinance your mortgage and each has its merits. To know which refinance method you should choose you’ll have to ask yourself some questions. You’ve got plans; now you just need to figure out how to get there. And it’s important to note that your plans will largely dictate the type of refinancing that’s best for you. Here, we’ve listed seven refinance questions to get your mind moving in the right direction—and to prepare you for future conversations about it with your lender.

1. how long do I plan on living in my current home?

How long you plan on living in your current home is a crucial factor when picking the optimal time to refinance. You’ll want to calculate when you’ll break even, because when you break even, the savings finally outweigh the costs. (Not sure when you’ll break even? Use our refinance calculator to find out.) For example, let’s say you plan on living in your home for at least five years and, based on your calculations, you expect to break even at 17 months. In that case, it’s probably worth it to stay in your home and reap the savings.

2. am I trying to lower my interest rate?

Currently, rates are on the rise, so if you bought your house in the last few years, it probably won’t save you any money to refinance now. However, if you purchased your home more than a decade ago and have not refinanced in the last 10 years, rates are probably low enough for a refinance to make sense. In the case of trying to lower your mortgage interest rate, you’ll want to check with your lender—they’ll be able to tell if you can get in at a lower rate.

3. do I want to pay off debt?

Trying to pay off other debt? Refinancing could free up some money you’d normally put toward your monthly mortgage payment. Have you heard of cash-out refinancing? With a cash-out refinance, you could borrow against your home equity and pay off some debt. Cash-out refinancing is also a popular option for homeowners looking to consolidate debt. If you have debt in multiple areas, a cash-out refinance would combine all of it into one convenient payment, giving you more disposable income.

4. should I tap into my home equity to make a big purchase?

Fourth on our list of refinance questions to ask yourself is about equity. Are you looking to make a big purchase in the near future? Maybe you have your eye on a new car or new furniture. Did you know you could fund that purchase with your home equity? Or maybe your kid is going off to college in the fall. You could refinance and put that cash from your home equity toward tuition, books, or school supplies. Got landscaping or home renovation plans? You could pay for those plans debt-free by refinancing your mortgage and tapping into your home equity. Sounds great—we know. But here’s the kicker: you can only borrow against your home equity up to 80%, meaning you have to retain at least 20% equity in your home after you refinance.

5. should I use my home equity to invest in a rental property?

We get it. You got bit by the investment bug. In this year’s competitive market, it might seem appealing to dive into all the excitement and purchase your own investment property. There’s good news! You could refinance and put your home equity toward buying a rental property. Especially when you’re trying to make money off this property, using your home equity to buy it in the first place only helps to offset the costs. Bet you didn’t know you could do that with a home loan refinance!

6. do I want to shorten my loan term so I can own my home debt-free, sooner?

Is 30 years too long for you? Just can’t wait that long? If you’re itching to get rid of your mortgage debt sooner, you could refinance for a shorter term. This is a popular option for older borrowers who are eager to own their home debt-free for some time and are planning on passing it down to children or grandchildren. But, if that’s not the life stage you’re in, you might just want to enjoy the benefits of a mortgage payment that’s only made up of taxes and insurance. It’s still a mortgage bill, but one that’s significantly cheaper, giving you more financial wiggle room!

7. am I in a position to take on costs associated with refinancing?

If, after you’ve asked yourself all of these refinance questions, everything sounds great so far, we have one more question for you: can you afford the costs associated with refinancing? It almost seems counterintuitive that refinancing to save money would cost you money, but remember the refinance process is similar to purchasing a home in that there are still various fees associated with the transaction. Things like appraisal fees, title fees, and closing costs still apply. No, you’re not having to come to the closing table with a big down payment, but you will have some up-front costs to pay. Good thing Cardinal Financial is on your side. If you’re a Cardinal Financial customer, ask us about fees we waive for our repeat customers!

In sum, this list of refinance questions is not exhaustive, but it should at least provide a starting point and get you thinking in the right direction. Check out our other refi blog posts below for additional insight!

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