A roof over your head is one of the four basic necessities that you need to account for in your budget – along with food, basic clothing, and transportation. But a mortgage payment that is too high can leave little room to cover the remainder of those basics let alone anything else. Financial experts suggest keeping your mortgage under 30 percent of your take home income to avoid feeling a financial strain each month, but if you’ve recently had a change in your income or simply invested in more house than you realized initially, there are a few things you can do to lower your mortgage payment. If you feel like your mortgage is too high or you are simply reevaluating your budget and want to save as much as possible, here are 4 ways you can reduce your payment each month.
Refinancing your mortgage is one of the most effective ways to lower your monthly payment. With this strategy, you not only lower your payment, but you also lower your interest rate, so you’ll pay less over the lifetime of your loan as well as save money month-to-month. You must typically have a good credit rating to refinance, but it’s worth considering even if you’re not sure that you’ll qualify.
2. Eliminate Your PMI
If you purchased your home with a down payment that was less than 20 percent of the purchase price, you are likely paying private mortgage insurance on top of your actual mortgage payment, which can add tens of thousands of dollars to the end cost of your home. Fortunately, you can get rid of your PMI. For starters, you have to repay enough on the mortgage that you gain at least 20 percent equity in your home. Once you have reached that mark, you can ask that your lender drop your PMI. Your loan provider may send an appraiser to your property to verify the exact equity that you have in your home before eliminating your PMI, but if it is removed, you monthly payment will drop.
3. Reassess Your Taxes
If your loan has an escrow, property taxes may constitute a sizeable amount of your mortgage each month. Property taxes are based on the county’s assessment of the value of your home and land. Some homes may be overvalued, resulting in taxes being too high. This valuation is different from an appraisal as it is conducted by your county strictly for tax purposes. To have the assessment done, you will need to make a request or protest by filing with the county in which you reside and requesting a hearing with the State Board of Equalization. If the request is approved, your homeowner’s taxes will decrease as well as your monthly mortgage.
4. Extend Your Term
Another effective way to lower your monthly payment is to extend your term, a practice also known as re-casting or re-amortizing. You won’t have to refinance to do this as most lenders offer the service for a fee of roughly $250. If you extend your payment term, your monthly mortgage will decrease because you have additional time to repay the loan. You may pay more in interest over the long run this way, but it is a solution if you need something immediate.
If you are having difficulty paying your mortgage or simply want to make the most of your budget, you should be able to talk to your lender. Explore these options and discuss the alternative solutions with your financier to improve your situation.