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Tips to Make Your Mortgage Shrink

Jun 19, 2008
For nearly all homeowners who have a mortgage on their house or condo, they dream of the day when it is finally paid off in full. Having that legal document in hand that says you are free of debt and the property is in your name is an extremely satisfying life-long goal for many people. Mortgages and the accompanying monthly payments are just part of the home buying process, and thus part of most adult lives. Unfortunately for some, various factors in life such as a market downturn, job loss or increase in payment amounts can spell disaster and end up in foreclosure. If you are in a financial position to do so, there are a few ways you can pay off your mortgage faster.

Before you even consider paying off your mortgage early, you need to realize that not everyone considers doing that a good idea. If you have a very low interest rate on your loan, some people would advise that you take the money you would otherwise use to pay extra on your mortgage and invest it, which would in turn earn even a small income or profit. There is also the argument that you could use the extra money to renovate your home or condo or just make a few improvements, thus increasing the overall value of the property and making it nicer for you to live in as well.

You also have to weigh whether or not you'd be happier by paying off your mortgage sooner or by having the extra money to spend in the present. Then you also have to consider the fact that unforeseen circumstances can arise such as illness or unexpected expenses and it always pays to have a financial cushion to fall back on during rough times. And of course you also have that handy tax deduction along with your mortgage. But if you do decide you'd like to be free of your monthly mortgage payments sooner, then you can do so by taking a few proactive steps right now.

The first and probably most simple thing you can do is to either increase the amount of your monthly payment or make biweekly payments. Be sure to discuss this with your bank or loan company because there may be restrictions on the number of additional payments you can make or limits on the extra dollar amount. By requesting that the extra payment you make be applied to the principal of your mortgage you can knock off between 5 and 10 years and a huge amount of interest on a 30 year mortgage.

Even if you have just bought into a pre-construction development and haven't even moved in yet, it doesn't hurt to consider all your options. One of the most widely publicized developments right now is the http://www.bestchicagocondos.com/pre-construction-condos/chicago-spire-2.html, and the developer is requiring 15% down with each contract to buy, which is a little more than most other new projects. That reduces your amount owed, and if you can afford the $750,000 to $40 million that a unit there will cost, you might not be overly concerned about shortening the life of your mortgage. But in reality, the amount saved on any loan is a bonus for you.

It's also important to speak with your loan officer and find out when they apply your payments. If the extra payment you send isn't credited until the next month, then you not only lose out on saving interest on the current month, but also on any interest that money might have earned in your savings account. Time your payments so that they are applied the month you send them. Be sure to have any extra payment go towards the principal and not just deducted from your next month's payment. And make absolutely certain that your bank or loan company doesn't charge a service fee for processing that extra payment.

Another option is to make a lump sum of balloon payment once or twice a year if you are permitted to do so. To save up for that amount you can earmark your tax return, any bonus you receive at work or profit sharing dividends. Something as simple as forgoing that $4.00 mocha latte on the way to work may sound like pocket change but will add up to some big savings in interest over the long run if you add it to your payments.

If you have a 30 year mortgage and are confident that you can handle higher monthly payment over the long run, you might consider refinancing for a 15 year fixed rate mortgage that has lower interest rates. Just be sure that the higher payments are doable because you'll be held accountable if you can't muster up the extra money each month, as opposed to only answering to yourself if you miss a self-imposed extra payment.

Don't be discouraged if you can only add $10 or even $5 extra dollars to each payment. It's that much more towards your goal of paying off your mortgage and you should congratulate yourself on it. It all adds up over time.
About the Author
Paula Cherrist writes articles about Chicago real estate, home trends and housing related topics for About Chicago Real Estate.
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