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Should You Pay Off Your Mortgage Early?

by The Pistol Tingen Team

Should You Pay Off Your Mortgage Early?

holding a house in hands

If you have a mortgage on your home, you’ve probably wondered at least once whether it would be worthwhile to pay it down ahead of schedule. And if so, you’re not alone. The debate over whether to prepay your mortgage has persisted in the personal finance world for some time now, and it’s not going away any time soon.

Pay Off Your Mortgage or Invest? The Math Says…

On one side of the equation, you’ve got experts who say you should not prepay your mortgage if you are locked in at a low interest rate. Their reasoning: You would be better off investing your money in the stock market where a reasonably diversified stock portfolio can expect to earn at least 7% on average over the course of a decade or more.

Add in the home mortgage interest deduction you can take on your federal taxes and, they say, you would be silly to prepay your mortgage and miss out on those perks.

To this group, the question is just about math. After all, why would you prepay a loan at 3% or 4% and lose out on part of a valuable tax deduction when you could invest that money instead and earn considerably more?

But There’s an Emotional Side to Prepaying Your Mortgage, Too

Still, there are plenty of people who ignore the math and forge ahead with their mortgage prepayment plans. My parents fell squarely in that category. Instead of taking the standard 30 years to pay off their mortgage, they paid it off in less than 20 years.

Ask them if they care about the tax deduction they missed out on, and they’ll probably look at you like a crazy person. Why? Because the decision to prepay was never about the math to them; it was about their financial freedom. And math aside, they have never regretted their decision to pay off their home and become entirely debt-free.

And a lot of people agree with that sentiment. For some people, like my parents, it all boils down to the fact that they just don’t like debt. It’s as simple as that.

But others prefer a deeper analysis.

Analyzing the Pros and Cons

For starters, let’s take a look at what the home mortgage interest deduction really means.

The easiest way to figure out your home mortgage interest deduction is to look at your effective tax rate. Say your overall tax rate is 22%, for example. On average, the home mortgage interest deduction reduces your taxes by $22 for every $100 you pay in mortgage interest.

That’s a pretty nice perk, but there’s a caveat. Your home mortgage interest deduction is only valid for the amount you deduct over and above the standard deduction, which is available to taxpayers who don’t itemize their returns. The standard deduction for married spouses filing jointly was $12,400 in 2014.

So what does that mean? Simply put, if you don’t itemize your taxes, your home mortgage interest deduction is worth nothing. And even if you do, it’s only worth what it helps you save over the standard deduction that anyone can take. In many cases, this drastically reduces the value of the home mortgage interest deduction to the point where it’s barely worth considering.

But what about those lost investing returns? When you ask people whether or not they prepay their mortgage and why, you’ll find plenty of skeptics who balk at the idea of carrying long-term debt in favor of investing their extra dollars in the stock market. And when it comes to who is “wrong” or “right,” there are several ways to look at it.

Since the stock market has performed well historically, the math favors those who choose to hold onto low-interest mortgages and invest their extra dollars instead.

However, unlike the stock market, which is not guaranteed, the interest you save by prepaying your mortgage is a “sure thing.” Many people are happy prepaying and banking the extra money they save on interest, even if it’s less than they may have earned by investing their extra dollars instead.

A Balanced Approach

As someone who loves math but despises debt, I see both sides of the issue. And that’s why my family takes a balanced approach. Our only debt is a small 15-year mortgage at 3.75%, and we choose to prepay it somewhat, but not as heavily as we could. My strategy involves maxing out our retirement accounts first and foremost and then throwing a few extra hundred dollars at the mortgage every month. I just don’t see the reason to choose between investing extra money or prepaying my mortgage, so I choose to do a little of both.

That seems like a good compromise to me. Still, there is nothing wrong with taking sides on this issue.

When you hate debt, you want to put it behind you once and for all, and that’s understandable. But it’s also understandable for someone to make their decision based solely on the numbers. After all, it’s hard to argue with math. At the end of the day, we all have to do what is best for our families – and what helps us sleep best at night.

So, should you prepay your mortgage? It is, and always has been, up to you. Just make sure any decision you make is an informed one.

Interest Rates Stop Falling and Start Rising

by Pistol Tingen

After a slow steady decline, interest rates started to head up this week. But they're still incredibly low and with home prices still down, it's a great time to buy.

Foreclosures Are Low, But Inventory is High

by Anthony Litz

 

Foreclosures are down Graphic

Nearly 8% of U.S. mortgages were at least 30 days past due in April but not yet in foreclosure. That was slightly higher than in March, but 16% more than last year, LPS Applied Analytics, which tracks the mortgage market.

Seriously delinquent loans - more than 90 days past due or already in foreclosure - also represented nearly 8% of loans in April. That was down slightly from March and up 11% from a year ago, LPS says.

 Less delinquency eventually set new housing market recovery, but that's far away. About 4.2 million loans are seriously delinquent or in foreclosure. At current sales rates, which will take four years to absorb the inventory, LPS says.

"There is still much water in the boat, but at least we have connected some of the leaks," says Herb Blecher, senior vice president LPS. "Now we can rescue the company out."

Almost 4 million homes have been repossessed by lenders as the housing market began to tank in 2006.

Falling house prices are more likely to drive late payment. "There are a lot of incentive for people to leave their homes," says IHS Global Insight economist Patrick Newport.

However, other factors may slow the arrears, including:

 • Fewer new problem loans. For every 100 loans that were current in November, 1.28% due 60 days in April, data show LPS. That's the lowest percentage in at least three years below the peak of almost 3% in January 2009. Rates for new problem loans are the highest in Nevada, Arizona and Florida.

 • Loan modifications. In April, 22.5% of loans were more than 90 days in arrears one year had become current. That figure was 12.6% in April 2010, LPS, said. Last year, nearly 1.8 million homeowners received a loan modification, 42% from 2009, says the hope and the alliance of mortgage servicers, investors and others. loan modifications often include lower interest rates or longer loan terms.

 • Improved quality of loans. Lenders have tightened lending standards for borrowers who receive loans are less likely to default.

 In April, less than 2% of loans in 2010 was delayed after 12 payments. At the same age, over 6% of loans in 2007 and 2008, there were criminals, the data indicate LPS.

SOURCE: USA Today

Foreclosures Slow Due To New Regulations

by Anthony Litz

 

The foreclosure process is taking longer than ever, which is slowing the foreclosures from coming to market.foreclosure time line calendar

 Recently there is an average 400 day period from the default notice until the day the bank reclaims the property. "That's up from 340 days a year ago and more than double the average 151 days it took to foreclose in the first quarter of 2007, at the start of the nation's foreclosure crisis.", says USA Today.

Experts say the the added delays although increase the homeowners time without monthly payments, the bank and loan-owner's losses become greater.

"April foreclosure activity hit a 40-month low, mainly because of processing delays, RealtyTrac CEO James Saccacio says. Default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions were reported on 219,258 properties in April, down 34% from a year ago."

"In some cases, lenders are taking longer to begin foreclosing on loans more than 90 days delinquent because they're waiting longer to allow for modifications or short sales — when lenders take less for a house than what's owed — or other alternatives, Saccacio says."

 

Call The Pistol Tingen Team at 252-321-6161 or send us an email if you would like any information regarding the subject of foreclosures.  We are a wealth of information; please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions or for advice.

 

Resources: USA TODAY,

Fixed-Rate Loans at New Low!

by Anthony Litz

 

Fixed rate mortgages have reached a new low this week says Freddie Mac. On Tuesday (Nov 9, 2010) the average of 4.24% fell down to 4.17% on a 30-year loan.  15-years fixed rate loans have a new average of 3.57%.  5-year fixed rate loans have a new low average of 3.25%.

Mortgage rates fall to fresh low. These average rates from Freddie Mac are calculated by tallying rates country wide Monday-Wednesday.  As we have mentioned before, you can expect rates to be different at different lenders and throughout the country.  These average rates do not include fee's, which are also competitive and different depending on lender and customer's credit scores.

Call The Pistol Tingen Team at 252-321-6161 or send us an email if you would like some lender recommendations along with their phone numbers.  We are a wealth of information; please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions or for advice.

 

Resources: USA TODAY, Associated Press

 

New Trend? Interest Rates Increase -2nd Week In A Row.

by Anthony Litz

Not too long ago mortgage rates reached an all time low, and are still the best that any buyer could hope for.  But a new trend is emerging; 30-year fixed interest rates have increased for the second week in a row according to national averages with Freddie Mac.  This comes after around 10 weeks of decline.

9-17-2010 30-year mortgage rates increase

We may have hit the bottom.  If you are "on the fence" waiting for the house buying market to get even sweeter, it may be time to make a move.

Of course rates are going to vary on a case-by-case basis depending on an individual’s credit history and what programs a lender can offer. Rates are negotiable and competitive.  Shop and compare a couple lenders' quotes to get the best rate and combination of fees. Call The Pistol Tingen Team at 252-321-6161 or send us an email if you would like some lender recommendations along with their phone numbers.  We are a wealth of information; please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions or for advice.

Displaying blog entries 1-6 of 6

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