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Mortgage rates keep falling to record lows — so is now a good time to


The coronavirus pandemic has led to a dramatic decline in mortgage rates. But that doesn’t mean now is a good time to refinance for everyone.

Last week, Freddie Mac
FMCC,
-0.94%

reported that mortgage rates hit a new record low for the fourth time this year, with the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dropping to 3.13%.

When rates hit their first record low of the year back in March, it triggered a deluge of refinancing activity just as many lenders were transitioning to remote work environments because of the spread of COVID-19. That led to a massive backlog at some lenders, with some borrowers waiting weeks to close their refinances.

Now, the market has settled down, and lenders have adapted to the coronavirus world. And the good news for borrowers is that most markets are served by mobile notary services, said Pat Stone, co-founder and chairman of title insurance company Williston Financial Group, and other states allow for entirely virtual mortgage processes. That means in most parts of the country getting a new home loan won’t mean risking your health, as infection rates remain stubbornly high in many areas.

Read more: Home prices continued to rise even as the coronavirus pandemic swept across America, FHFA says

But will refinancing your mortgage risk your financial health? Here’s what homeowners need to consider before closing on a new loan.

Figure out when you’ll break even

As a general rule of thumb, experts say that a refinance will be worthwhile if it will net a homeowner an interest rate between 50 and 75 basis points lower than their current mortgage’s rate. That’s because the reduced interest will compensate for the closing costs associated with the refinance.

But those savings don’t come immediately — it will take a few year before the savings via monthly payments accrue to outweigh the costs.

“If you’re in your forever home, it might make sense to refinance with a half-point rate decrease,” said Holden Lewis, home and mortgage expert at personal-finance website NerdWallet. “But if you plan to sell the home within five years or so, it’s most likely not worth it because you’ll pay more in fees than you would save during that time.”


‘If you’re in your forever home, it might make sense to refinance with a half-point rate decrease.’


— Holden Lewis, home and mortgage expert at personal-finance website NerdWallet

Pay attention to the loan’s term

Homeowners shouldn’t necessarily default to a 30-year loan, despite their popularity.

“Because rates have fallen so much you could probably get into a 15-year loan…



Read More: Mortgage rates keep falling to record lows — so is now a good time to

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