Friday, January 3, 2014

Should I pay off my Home's Mortgage?

Is paying off your home necessary? There are some who say that paying off your home mortgage is the best thing you can do and others who say your regular monthly home payment pays you some important financial dividends. Who’s right? They both are. You just need to decide which course is right for you.

What are your benefits if you continue making your regular monthly payment on your home loan?
·         You will continue to have a tax write off of the interest and property taxes you paid on your home. This can save you on your taxes provided the deduction is more than the U.S. IRS standard tax deduction.
·         Money you might add to your payment to pay off your loan early can be dedicated to retirement investments. Enlarging your account and improving your overall retirement plan.

Recent surveys show that 50% of seniors aged 65-74 still have a mortgage or other loan on their homes. This debt can be difficult to pay off if one no longer has earned income. There is a lesson we learned during the last recession; adjustable mortgages and fixed incomes do not mix.

Important Tip: If you are approaching retirement and still have an adjustable mortgage, it is time to refinance and get a fixed rate loan as soon as you can. A one percent increase in a $300,000 mortgage can make the monthly payment go up well over $200! Can your retirement income survive an increase such as that?

Many of us think about paying our home off early. Homeowners often dream of the day they can have a mortgage pay off party where neighbors and family come for the ceremonial burning of the deed papers. What are your benefits in making larger payments during your peak earning years on your mortgage?
·         You will pay less interest for your home over time.
·         After the home loan is paid off, you will have more liquid money available to you on a monthly basis. These are funds that can be dedicated to IRA’s and other retirement programs.
·         If you remain in the home when you retire, you will not have a monthly mortgage payment so your retirement money will go farther and your home will still have equity. This gives you greater financial security.
·         You will still get to write off your property taxes provided the standard deduction is less than your total tax deductions for your income level.
·         Should you need it in your future for personal care as a senior, your home equity is available for a reverse mortgage.

For seniors who have owned their homes for many years, the income deduction on their home may be minimal and, even with property taxes, inadequate as a tax deduction. It may be time to start thinking about your time horizon. When will you retire? Would you benefit most from a mortgage payoff or would maintaining your mortgage be a better plan?

If you have a specific time horizon in mind for paying off your loan, go to an amortization calculator on the web, (we have them at enter your principle and interest rate and the term in which you wish to pay it off and the program will return a monthly payment for you. That payment will make it possible to pay off your loan within your time horizon if it is maintained throughout the remaining term of the loan.

Remember that any additional money you include with your payment will always be applied to your principle balance. You can do this on a regular monthly basis or apply a lump sum annually to reduce your principle amount. Either method will pay your loan off faster.

Please be aware of any prepayment penalties that may be included in your loan paperwork. These can make it difficult to pay a loan off early as it charges you a penalty amount for paying off your loan prior to maturity or a certain time period, such as the first five years of the loan.

For many, the only acceptable home loans are those that do not have prepayment penalties for early payment of principle. These penalties can prevent you from paying off your mortgage and prolong the pain of paying interest to the funder.

Interest expense is the largest single expense we have in our home purchase. It will be more than our downpayment. Often, if you pay your loan for the total of the thirty year term, you will pay out an interest amount more than the original amount of the first mortgage. This is dependent on the interest rate.

As homeowners, we need to decide if paying interest after retirement makes sense for us in regard to our personal tax and income situation.

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Would you like to learn more about retirement planning? Cetera Advisors LLC* have formed a partnership with Meriwest Credit Union to offer a complete array of financial investment options and personalized financial planning designed for your specific personal needs. Comprehensive financial planning, long-term and short-term investment strategies and retirement planning are available to all of our members on a confidential basis.
You can discover your options by meeting with one of the registered representatives in the convenience of any of our Meriwest financial centers or by calling (408) 866-1002.

* Security and advisory services offered through Cetera Advisors LLC (doing insurance business in CA as CFGA Insurance Agency), member FINRA/SIPC. Cetera is under separate ownership from any other named entity. The products offered are not insured by the NCUA, NCUSIF or any other regulatory agency, are not deposits or obligations of, nor guaranteed by the credit union or any affiliated entity, and may lose value.

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