Question of the week: Should we refinance and use proceeds to payoff debt?
Answer: Not if you can payoff your debt without tapping into your equity.
With rates still low many families are looking at their accumulated consumer debt and wondering if they should refinance, or get a home equity loan, to payoff their debt and lower their monthly credit payments. Being able to get a rate for a cash-out refinance possibly somewhere around 5% for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage seems better than paying high, possibly as high as 20%, on credit cards. But is it a good idea?
On paper, the math seems really good, but a deeper look shows it probably is not for most families.
Take a scenario where you have a home worth $550,000 and you have a balance of $365,000 on your current mortgage with a rate of 3.75% and your payment is $1850 with about 25 years left on the loan. You do not intend to move anytime in the future as your kids are in, or just about in, middle school.
For various reasons, some emergency, some just consumer spending, you have accumulated about $35,000 in revolving debt (credit cards) with minimum payments totaling about $700 per month, have a few collections from past medical expenses for another $2000, a car payment of $560 with a balance of $20,000 and you need to replace your roof which will cost about $20,000. You have about $10,000 in savings and are making maximum contributions to your retirement accounts. You have been trying to pay down your credit cards but have not seem to be able to make a dent in the total balances and are at the stage where you make minimum payments and pay off most of what you charge each month.
Recapping, you have about $57,000 in debt costing you $1260 per month in minimum payments, this includes collection accounts with no payments being made, and you need about $20,000 for a roof. Should you either refinance and add $77,000 to your mortgage or get a home equity line for close to that amount, to payoff all your debt, fix the roof and start over with only a mortgage payment? To do so would require about $442,000 for a mortgage balance, or your current mortgage with a home equity line.
We would want to keep your new loan amount at or below 80% loan to value, which would be a new mortgage for $440,000, a bit short of what you require but you would be able to pay that off quickly with your new financial obligation shift.
Taking a look at a new mortgage of $440,000 for a cash-out refinance at 80% loan to value you would be looking at a rate of about 5% depending on credit score and other factors. This would make your new mortgage payment about $2350 per month, or $500 more per month than what you are spending now on your credit obligations plus replacing your roof. With the new loan and $500 per month higher payment you are getting rid of $1260 in monthly payments for a net savings of $760 per month.
Sounds pretty good, payoff debt, get a new roof and save $1260 per month. But is this something you should do?
Scenarios I run by clients before initiating the application for such a debt-relief refinance are as follows:
Reconsider including your vehicle loan in any debt consolidation scenario. Auto loans are generally lower rates than credit cards, and in the past several years with decent credit rates below mortgage rates. They are also fully amortized, meaning with every payment you are paying down the loan balance until it reaches zero. In the above scenario, you have about three years left on the loan and you are paid off. If you include it in a mortgage refinance you will be paying for the car as part of a thirty year mortgage. Taking the loan out the new mortgage balance would be $420,000, your payment on the mortgage would drop to about $2245. You would now have a mortgage payment that is just over $400 per month higher than your current mortgage, you are paying off debt with payments of about $700 month for net savings of $200 plus have funds to replace your roof.
Consider a home equity line of credit (HELOC) instead of refinancing your mortgage. The rate will be higher, and adjustable with it going up the next few years, however you will have the opportunity to save on monthly payments, or not depending on how you handle the repayment of the HELOC. If you go this route, you obtain a HELOC for $50,000 (following advice above and leaving vehicle loan out of the consolidation plan) at a rate of Prime plus one-half of one percent. Prime is at 5.00% today giving you a rate of 5.5% on the HELOC. The minimum payment for most equity lines is interest only, in this case that would be about $230 per month which looks like a big savings over what you are paying now—and that is the debt trap. If you pay interest only you are in worse position than you are now. Yes, your monthly cash flow is better but you are making no reduction in the balance. If you get a HELOC my very strong recommendation is you continue making the same total of payments you were making before, except instead of paying minimum payments on credit cards you are paying down your HELOC balance. Currently you are paying $700 on the cards, so pay $700 on the HELOC, this will decrease the balance $470 per month at the current rate. If the rate never changes and you make $700 per month payments you will have the HELOC paid off in about seven years. However, the rate will very likely be going up at least one percent in the next year, and perhaps more in the future. When calculating long term HELOC rates I usually use an average Prime rate of about 8% to be safe, at this average rate and a payment of $700 per month your time frame to payoff the loan for your credit card debt and roof repair is about eight years.
Equity lines often have balloons. One factor to consider with the equity line is the repayment terms. Many are “open” for ten years, meaning you can reuse them as the balance is paid down/off, and during this period they require only interest only. After ten years HELOCs are either fully amortized for the remaining term, or are due with a balloon payment. Because of the change in terms later in the loan it is important to have a payoff plan on the HELOC when you obtain it so you are not in a position in the future where you need to potentially refinance again in the future.
Create a realistic plan to payoff you consumer debt yourself and just borrow to pay for the new roof. Make a very realistic budget of your net income and expenses, including debt payments. See what adjustments you can make to your lifestyle and how much those adjustments will save you per month. Take the savings and dedicate them to paying off your credit cards. Many years ago, before Dave Ramsey became a multi-millionaire by counseling families on paying off debt I would help clients with debt payoff plans that pretty much matches Ramsey’s plan. I called my plan Stop, Drop and Roll. Stop using credit. Drop your credit card balances one at a time, starting with the lowest balance. Roll the payments into the next lowest card when one is paid off. It takes commitment to the payments and whatever austerity measures you put in place but if followed will enable you to payoff your consumer debt without refinancing your mortgage and adding tens of thousands of dollars and years to your existing mortgage.
I am in the debt business, a mortgage after all is a debt—the largest debt for almost every homeowner. If you are feeling overwhelmed with your debt please contact me and I can help you, at no obligation or cost, work through options for paying down/off your credit obligations.
Have a question? Ask me!
August home sales are a bit of a mixed bag. While the total number of sales are down in the state from last year prices continue to rise and days on the market are stretching out in most areas as inventory on the market has grown for the past five months. Looking at the data it looks like the market is trending towards equilibrium between buyers and sellers after we have experienced several years of a sellers’ market. Statewide total sales in August were down 1.8% from July and off 6.6% from August 2018. The statewide median price, $596,410, is up 0.8% for the month and 5.5% from last year. Sales and prices locally are in line with the statewide direction on prices and units sold. In LA County, the median price in August was $607,490, up 1.7% from July and 6.4% from last August, the total number of sales were up 5.5% for the month but down 8.9% from last year. Orange County’s median price in August of $838,500 was 1.1% jump from July and 6.3% increase from 2018 with total sales showing 2.9% drop month to month from July and a 9.7% fall from 2018.
Rates for Friday September 21, 2018: Rates are up from last Friday as investors put money into the equity markets (i.e. stocks) and hedge against next week’s Federal Reserve Open Market Committee meeting—these are the folks that set the Fed rates that impact consumer rates, such as the prime rate that determines equity line rates. The Fed will bump their funds rate by 0.25%, that is expected and priced into the markets. Hedging is occurring because of what the FOMC members say about the future of short term rates, how many future increases, how soon, how high? While they will not directly answer these questions those who can read the Fed tea leaves will discern much from the minutes of their meeting. The consensus appears to be that the Fed will raise rates faster and higher than previously thought. Lock your rate when you can!
FIXED RATE MORTGAGES AT COST OF 1.25 POINTS LOCKED FOR 45 DAYS:
30 year conforming 4.625% Up 0.125%
30 year high-balance conforming 4.875% Up 0.125%
Please note that these are base rates and adjustments may be added for condominiums, refinances, credit scores, loan to value, no impound account and period rate is locked. Rates are based on 20% down with 740 FICO score for purchase mortgages.
Long time readers of the WR&MU know I can be a bit of a data geek…well more than a bit. So I found it interesting that the link to the Waffle House index last week had one of the highest click rates I can recall from readers. For those in Southern California the nearest Waffle House is in Goodyear, Arizona, 337 miles away from the Smith abode in Long Beach. There have been plenty of trips home in the family van from Scottsdale that have begun with breakfast at Waffle House, but have not been to the one in Goodyear as I recall. I do love me some waffles!
Looks like a perfect fall weekend, which commences tomorrow (fall and the weekend) in Southern California with great weather, playoff implication baseball plus college and pros going at it on the gridirons. Enjoy your weekend and the first days of fall!
Have a great week,