Mortgage rates are rising: Is it too late to refinance?

Mortgage interest rates reached the highest they'd been in over a year in May 2013, leading many people to ask: Is it too late to refinance?

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Rising interest rates mean that many homeowners are left wondering if it's still worth it to refinance.
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Rising interest rates mean that many homeowners are left wondering if it's still worth it to refinan …

If you think you may have missed the boat on getting a lower mortgage rate, you may think it's too late to refinance - especially when you see interest rates rising every week.

In fact, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), on July 5, 2013, the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased to 4.68 - an increase of .10 percent from June 28th. This is the highest rate since March 2012.

Though this news may dishearten homeowners who didn't jump at the chance to refinance when rates were at rock bottom, our experts say not to give up on the idea of refinancing just yet.

Read on to see what our experts recommend - their advice may surprise you.

Is it too late to refinance?

"No, it's not too late to refinance," says Malcolm Hollensteiner, director of retail lending products & services at TD Bank. Though, he does say you may pay more than you would have a few months ago.

"If you are looking for a conforming 30-year fixed [rate mortgage], you probably missed your chance to get the lowest rate," says Peter Grabel, a mortgage executive at Luxury Mortgage CorpĀ®. By conforming, he's referring to loans that are for less than $417,000. Mortgage loans that are above that amount are referred to as "jumbo" loans, and often come with higher interest rates since they're seen as being more risky than conforming loans.

Hollensteiner says that while current rates are on the rise, they are are still at historic lows, and are expected to remain that way in the near future.

"However, if you're considering refinancing, now really is the time to do it to make sure you're able to take advantage of the lower rates," says Hollensteiner. "So while it's not too late, homeowners should act quickly."

[Click to compare mortgage interest rates from multiple lenders now.]

Just consider this: In January 2013 the average interest rate was 3.63, according to the MBA. Now, in July 2013, interest rates are at an average of 4.58 percent. That's nearly a 1 percentage point difference.

What are the options for people who still want to refinance?

Thanks to the rising home prices, Grabel says you may be in a better position to refinance now than say, six months ago.

That's because a higher home value indicates that a homeowner has more equity in the home, which is beneficial when refinancing.

"[A] homeowner may have found they had insufficient equity (according to the appraiser) to qualify six months ago, but [could] now qualify due to improved valuations," explains Grabel.

But if your home price still hasn't risen and your mortgage is underwater, you may want to consider taking advantage of the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) to lock in a low interest rate. To qualify for HARP, your loan must be owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac as of May 31, 2009, you must be up-to-date on your mortgage payments, and you must have paid your mortgage on time over the last 12 months.

You should keep in mind, though, that there isn't a standard solution for everyone who wants to refinance, as every family is different.

"It's important to remember that what makes financial sense can change from borrower to borrower," says Hollensteiner. He suggests discussing your financial goals with your lender, as they may be able to suggest other options to help you save money and meet your priorities.

For example, "[t]he TD Bank Mortgage Service Index recently found that borrowers who have in-person discussions with lenders often have a better mortgage experience overall," says Hollensteiner.

[Ready to lock in a low mortgage interest rate? Click to compare rates from lenders now.]

What kind of rate trends do experts predict for the rest of 2013?

Predicting mortgage interest rates is always tricky business. While our experts have different thoughts on the future of interest rates throughout the rest of 2013, neither of them see rates going down in the near future.

"We're already starting to see rates rise in 2013, and we expect to see that continue," says Hollensteiner.

Grabel believes rates will level off.

"My crystal ball doesn't have a very good track record, but my guess is that rates will stay about the same," he says.

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