Eight steps for homeowners to reduce mortgage interest payments

Refinance with a lower interest rate, switch to a fixed-rate mortgage or make regular partial settlements

Regular reviews of the mortgage, taking advantage of prepayment options and maintaining good credit hygiene are all vital practices to manage mortgages effectively. Alamy
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Purchasing a home is a significant financial commitment and managing your mortgage effectively can lead to substantial savings over time.

There are smart ways that provide practical strategies to help borrowers effectively manage and reduce interest payments, while enhancing long-term financial well-being.

Remember that maintaining a comprehensive budget is essential, covering not only mortgage payments but also other housing-related expenses such as property taxes, insurance, maintenance and utilities.

Additionally, building an emergency fund is imperative to address unexpected costs like job loss or major home repairs.

Regular reviews of the mortgage and overall financial situation, consulting with mortgage advisers, ensuring adequate insurance coverage, taking advantage of prepayment options and maintaining good credit hygiene are all vital practices to manage mortgages effectively and achieve long-term financial stability.

Here’s a breakdown of key points to consider.

1. Refinance with a lower interest rate

One strategy recommended is refinancing, which involves replacing your existing mortgage with a new one at a lower interest rate.

By checking and improving your credit score, you may qualify for better rates.

Lower interest rates can significantly reduce your monthly payments, providing tangible savings over the entire loan term.

However, it is important to note that there fees are applied when refinancing a mortgage.

2. Eliminate mortgage insurance premiums

Another tip is to eliminate mortgage insurance premiums provided you have decent existing cover.

This reduction in monthly expenses allows you to contribute the saved amount towards higher principal recovery, effectively decreasing the interest component of your mortgage payments.

This strategic move not only eases financial burdens but also accelerates the equity building process in loan repayment.

At the same time, we need to acknowledge the value of mortgage-related insurance and take an informed decision only if you already have adequate cover.

Life insurance is a safety feature for home buyers and banks as well. It protects the borrower’s legal heirs and bank in case of an unfortunate event of the borrower’s death or permanent total disability.

In such events, the whole mortgage obligation is settled by the insurance provider with the bank and property becomes free from financial obligation.

Similarly, in property insurance, if there is a natural calamity such as earthquake, flood or any "act of God" and the property is no longer habitable, insurance companies are obligated to settle the outstanding loan with the bank.

3. Debt restructuring

This process typically involves negotiating with creditors to either reduce the principal balance through lump-sum payments or adjust the repayment terms to better align with the borrower's current financial situation.

One aspect of debt restructuring involves making lump-sum part payments towards the outstanding principal balance.

By doing so, borrowers can effectively reduce the overall amount owed, which not only decreases the financial strain but also accelerates the journey towards debt freedom.

These lump-sum payments can come from various sources, such as savings, investments or even asset sales.

Additionally, debt restructuring may entail renegotiating the terms of the loan, such as extending the repayment period, lowering the interest rate or converting variable-rate loans into fixed-rate ones.

These adjustments are made based on the borrower’s ability to repay, ensuring that the revised terms are more sustainable and conducive to long-term financial stability.

By engaging in debt restructuring, borrowers can actively manage their financial obligations and regain control over their economic well-being.

4. Switch to a fixed-rate mortgage

For borrowers with adjustable-rate mortgages, switching to a fixed-rate mortgage could be an option.

This transition provides greater stability and predictability in monthly payments, shielding you from potential interest rate fluctuations in the future.

However, they do come with fixed terms and homeowners will need to reassess this option before it expires as the interest rate could increase and affect payments.

5. Interest offset option

Linking a savings account to your mortgage for an interest offset is another savvy strategy.

This allows you to cut down the interest part from a loan repayment using the balance in your savings account.

The result is a reduction in effective interest rates while maintaining liquidity, providing a balanced approach to mortgage management.

6. Interest hedging through SIP

Consider systematic investment plans (SIP) as a tool for disciplined and regular investments.

SIPs can act as a hedge against rising interest rates, offering benefits such as risk mitigation and consistent savings.

Switching to a fixed-rate mortgage provides greater stability and predictability in monthly payments
Rajender Prasad, managing director, Money Maestro

7. Accelerated loan repayment

Gradually increasing your repayment by a certain percentage, even if it's a modest 2 per cent to 3 per cent, can have a cumulative impact over time.

This ensures that your loan payments keep pace with your income growth, allowing you to allocate more funds towards the principal amount.

8. Regular partial settlements

Lastly, it’s crucial to highlight the importance of regular, small partial settlements.

Making one additional instalment annually as a partial settlement contributes not only to consistent progress towards debt, but also cultivates financial discipline and leverages the power of compounding.

This approach aligns with long-term savings goals and reinforces a proactive approach to mortgage management.

Rajender Prasad is managing director of Dubai-based independent mortgage advisory firm Money Maestro

Updated: March 22, 2024, 6:02 PM