Practical Examples - Refinance or Prepayment Penalty?

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Hi Dan wondering if you could help me out I'm getting a lot of different answers from a lot of people and I'm really searching for help I bought my house brand new (three years ago) for 550,000, and (the next year) I refinanced into a mta loan. which at that time was around 4.25% and now is 7.125%. I have a hard prepay of $12,000.00 which expires in (fifteen months) house just appraised for $775,00 balance on 1st loan 440,000 balance on 2nd 148,000. should I ride the next 15 months out to avoid pre pay or refinance now into a fixed. The rate on the second is prime plus zero.

First off, a disclaimer. A precise infallible answer depends upon the rates when your prepayment penalty expires, something that is not currently known. I think thirty year fixeds will be in the low sevens, but I might as well be sorting through animal entrails to get that answer. I also think that the five year hybrid ARMS will stay about where they are, or perhaps even decrease a tad once the fed announces that they are done with hikes. But I don't know; nobody does. It also depends upon what comparable homes are selling for then, which determine your appraisal, and how long you keep the new loan.

Your rate moving like that is one of the reasons I recommend so strongly against negative amortization loans. The person who did your loan at the time had to know that, due to the nature of the mta yours is based upon, the rates were already set to rise into the mid fives for certain, and likely further, as older months were dropped from the average in favor of newer. Were it fully explained, would anyone rational agree to take a loan where you get a lower rate for six months, but then the rate rises inexorably, as the treasury rates the loan is based upon had already been rising, to a level that is well above what is available on A paper three or five year fixed? And with a three year prepayment penalty, so you're in precisely this sort of situation?

"No points" thirty year fixed rate loans are sitting right around 6.75 right now, and you're at 75% Loan to Value. The bad news is you're definitely a jumbo loan, as the conforming limit is $417,000. This boosts your rate a tad, depending upon the lender, to 6.875 or 7.00 percent without points. I prefer to discuss loans without prepayment penalties or points, but it might be in your best interest to pay a little to buy the rate down if you refinance. I'm going to use seven, as it makes the math slightly easier.

The good news is your loan to value ratio. According to the numbers you gave me, you're below 80 percent, even with the prepayment penalty. You owe $588,000 (If you bought for $550,000, the turkey who did this negative amortization loan scammed you out of a lot of money), and the prepayment penalty boosts this to $600,000. Assuming you have enough liquid reserves to put up the money for interest and impounds, this means the costs of doing your loan are going to put you at about at $605,000 new balance (perhaps a bit below, but let's keep the math as friendly as possible).

Basically, it cost you $17,000 to save yourself an eighth of a percent on the interest rate. Under more normal circumstances, I wouldn't even put that one through the calculator. No way that's in your best interest. But your real rate on that MTA is going to keep rising - by at least another quarter percent due to increases already on the books, more likely half. I'll use 7.5 as your mean rate. Furthermore, the second is at 8 percent, likely to soon be 8.25. Monthly interest under the current loan at that rate: $2750 for the first, $987 for the second as it is. Monthly interest on the new loan, $3530. It saves you $200 per month in interest, albeit with a higher payment, $4025 as opposed to what you've got now. I am assuming you have documentation that you make enough money to justify the loan in the underwriter's eyes, and that your credit score is about average. On the other hand, divide $17,000 by $200 per month, and you get 85 months to break even on the cost of doing it.

However, this decision does not take place in a vacuum. You can't let that negative amortization loan go forever. In fifteen months, I think equivalent rates will be about 7.25, which translates to 7.5 percent for your loan. Furthermore, I believe prices will be a little lower then, so in order to refinance, you're likely to have to split into two loans. Assume prices are 10 percent lower. Any of these prognostications is an educated market guess, no more, and I could be way off. The appraisal would come in just under $700,000, but let's say $700,000. Your first, for $560,000, would be at 7.5%, and for your second, I'll presume you get a new HELOC on the same terms, on which the balance would be about $33,000. Interest on first and second, at 7.5% and 8.25% respectively, comes to $3500 plus $227. The payment on the first would be $3915, plus $227 (assuming interest only HELOC) for a total of $4142. So $12,000 saved if you wait, versus about $200 per month less in interest charges per month if you dive in. Divide that out and it comes out to 60 months. Five years. If you keep the new loan five years, approximately, or more, you'll be better off refinancing now. If you keep it less than five years, you're better off waiting is what the calculations say. Plus chop off the $200 per month you save starting right now for the next fifteen months, and the answer turns into forty five months or a little less, being your time until break-even.

I'm a reasonable risk taker. Were I plopped down in your situation, I have to tell you I would probably hang tight until the prepayment penalty expires. Roll the dice and bet on my personal ability to come up with a good loan. On the other hand, you may not be as much of a risk-taker as I am. The stuff I quoted you for refinancing now is available now, no suppositions about it. The rates could well be higher in fifteen months than I have estimated, perhaps much higher, or they could be lower (although I don't think so with increased federal borrowing). You need to decide what your level of comfort is. If you're the sort that is averse to risk, refinancing now could pay for itself just in peace of mind, because you're not worrying about it. That's why I always offer a 30 year fixed rate loan, no matter how wide the interest rate spread is between that and my favorite hybrid ARM. There are folks who just won't sleep nights. The difference comes out to about $7 per night, and my sleep is worth more than that, so I presume yours is, as well.

Caveat Emptor.

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This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on May 18, 2007 10:00 AM.

Looking Beyond The Bubble: What's Next For Highly Appreciated Markets was the previous entry in this blog.

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