3 Ways You Can Reduce Your Mortgage Costs

Few people will ever pay more for anything than they do for their home. The prices of housing are continually increasing; the median price of a house in the United States is now more than $225,000 (median price of a home during the 1960s was $97,000, when adjusted for inflation). Adding to the expense is the mortgage interest. Over the life of the loan, most homeowners will pay approximately twice the cost of the house in interest alone.

Taking interest into account, the cost of the average American house now costs more than $550,000. But while everyone wants to own a house, few people relish the thought of paying almost half of the mortgage amount borrowed as interest to their lender. Over the life of a $200,000, 30-year mortgage at 5 percent, you'll pay 360 monthly payments of $1,073.64 each, totaling $386,511.57. In other words, you'll pay $186,511.57 in interest to borrow $200,000.

Here are some things that you can do that may help reduce the total cost of buying a home:

1) Eliminate your private mortgage insurance (PMI)

If you are making a down payment of less than 20%, your lender will require that you pay private mortgage insurance every month. This protects the lender against default, but it doesn't help you one bit. If the value of your house increases or if you pay down a portion of your mortgage, your equity may exceed 20% of the home's value. In that case, you can ask your lender to drop the PMI. The lender won't automatically do it; you must ask. You will also need to submit the results of a formal appraisal to prove the home's value. Should your lender drop your PMI, you can simply add the amount you were paying to your mortgage payment each month. The extra sum will help reduce your interest costs and will help you pay off your loan sooner.

2) Add to your payment

You can pay more than the listed amount each month. Any extra you add to your payment should be applied to your loan principal, which will contribute to paying off your loan sooner. Every little bit helps; even $100 per month would probably save thousands of dollars over the life of the mortgage.

3) Refinance your loan

If interest rates take a drop to one or two points below the interest rate on your loan, it would probably be worthwhile to refinance. The costs of refinancing can usually be recovered through lower payments within a few years. Depending on the interest rate and the size of your loan, you could save tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your mortgage.

These are but a few of the ways that you can reduce the cost of buying a home. While there isn't much you can do about the price of the house itself, you can certainly do a number of things to reduce the amount that you pay in interest over the years. Every penny counts.

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