It might seem like an insurmountable task, but paying off your mortgage early can be done. The question is, should you? The answer depends on many factors, including other household debt, investments, mortgage rates and age of the homeowners. But for those in the position to do so, the satisfaction of ditching a long-term debt is hard to beat.
Greg McBride, senior financial analyst at Bankrate, says the percentage of homeowners who can afford to pay off their mortgage early is small. "I can make a stronger argument against it," he says. "Paying off a low-rate, tax-deductible loan is very low on the list of financial priorities for most people." Most homeowners haven’t even come close to maxing out retirement accounts or saving an adequate emergency fund, he notes. Many are also carrying too much high-interest credit card debt.
He describes two scenarios where homeowners might pay off or pay down a mortgage early. One is a borrower whose loan balance is between the cutoff amount for a jumbo mortgage and conforming mortgage (generally, mortgages of less than $417,000 are conforming). In that case, it would make sense to pay down the loan in order to qualify for the lower-rate mortgage.
Another example would be the homeowner who has maxed out retirement accounts, has no other high-cost debt, an adequate emergency savings account, and is not saving to put a child or grandchild through school or for any other major expenses. "Then it might make sense, particularly if your loan balance is low enough that the tax deduction isn't worth it, or if you are unable to refinance," McBride says. "The benefit of eliminating a monthly payment is that you're freeing up a significant amount of money in your monthly budget."
If you've paid off your mortgage or paid it down, tell us how and why you did it.
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