By: Zeng Han Jun, CPCG, Singapore

Many home owners took up a fixed rate housing loan when its rate is relatively low. A fixed rate housing loan also gives the home owner a peace of mind, without having to worry about fluctuations. However all good things come to an end. Your fixed rate term expires and it starts to float. For some, the rate really balloons up and then you wonder if you should refinance now.

Frankly speaking, when should you really refinance? Should you refinance after the lock in period? Refinance within the lock in period? If you decide to refinance within the lock in period, at which point of time will you be doing it?

Before we go into that, let’s spend some time understanding the refinancing process. When you send in your application, the contract takes about 2 – 3 weeks to get back to you. After you have signed the contract and appointed your lawyer to do the conveyance, he or she will probably take three to six months to complete the process.

Now let’s look at this example: You are holding onto a fixed rate housing loan at 3% and it has expired. It balloons up to 5%. With the extra 2%, of course you will feel unhappy about it, so you decide to refinance now. However, you will still be paying at 5% for the next three to six months before your home loan gets refinanced to a lower rate. Remember, the interest you paid to the bank cannot come back to you at all. The money you saved from refinancing can be pumped into alternative investments. No matter what kind of investment you have decided to take up, you are allowing that amount of cash to work harder.

Looking at the above example, you will realize that you should start considering refinancing, three to six months before your fixed rate expires. By positioning yourself to refinance earlier, you are effectively saving more money in the long run. This is also known as “lean finance”. Of course, what if your housing loan has penalties, claw backs and so on? Different people have different terms in their contract. It is better to talk to your mortgage advisor about it, so he or she can help you with your refinancing option.

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