Money is tight, and you’re looking for expenses to cut. Your mortgage payment is the biggest bite out of your paycheck, so that seems like the logical place to start. Here are some ways that may help you lower your monthly mortgage payment and important considerations about each one.
Refinance to a longer term: Refinancing a mortgage to gain more time to repay is a popular option. If homeowners have made payments on a 30-year loan for a few years, for example, they refinance the remainder back out to 30 years.
But extending a loan term means you’re piling on additional interest charges, especially if you’ve been paying for a significant amount of time. So, this move should be a “last resort” option, says Randall Lowell of Parkview Services, a HUD-approved nonprofit housing counselor service in Shoreline, Washington. HUD is short for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
If you’re in that situation, he suggests looking first for a streamline refinance loan product. Some government-backed loans — such as Federal Housing Administration and Department of Veterans Affairs mortgages — offer these lower fee and less paperwork refis.
Apply for a loan modification: If you’ve experienced a severe financial hardship and your mortgage payment is no longer affordable, a loan modification may be an option. That’s when a lender restructures your loan in some way to lower the monthly payment.
You don’t have to be in default to request a loan modification from your lender, Lowell says. If you’re facing an imminent reduction in income — for example, from the loss of a job or retirement — he says it’s a good idea to get ahead of the issue.
“When you reach out to a lender, they might actually refer you over to a HUD-approved housing counselor to discuss your situation,” says Stephanie Somerville, with GreenPath Financial Wellness, a HUD-approved nonprofit financial counseling service in the Detroit area.