Paying Off Your Home Loan Early
What You Should Know
Having debt can be a psychological burden. When you have something as large like your mortgage loan looming over you, you may be tempted to pay it off as soon as you can. However, this may not always be the best decision – here are a few things you should consider before settling your home loan early.
Settling your mortgage loan earlier means paying less interest
The faster you pay off your home loan, the less interest you pay.
Here are a few ways you can consider settling your loan earlier, and their impact on the amount of interest you will be paying.
Scenario 1: Refinancing or repricing to a shorter-term loan
Refinancing means replacing your existing home loan with a new home loan from another bank. Repricing also involves replacing your existing home loan with another home loan, but within your current bank.
When you refinance or reprice, you can switch to another home loan with a shorter loan tenure. A shorter loan tenure means paying substantially less interest. However, before you spring for a shorter loan tenure, you’ll need to make sure that you can cope with the higher monthly instalments that come with it.
Scenario 2: Making small, recurring partial capital repayments
What if you put away extra cash – such as your bonus – every year to pay down your mortgage? Over time, you could be saving thousands of dollars in interest.
Scenario 3: Making a large capital repayment
If you’ve amassed a large amount of savings and would like to put it towards paying off your mortgage, you’d be paying a lot less interest down the line.
When should you not prepay your mortgage?
Although having to pay less interest on your home loan is a compelling prospect, here are a few situations in which it may not be the best route:
1. If it depletes your savings
You shouldn’t rush to pay off your home loan if that means depleting your savings. Having all your cash tied up in your home is not a good idea, as your home is an illiquid asset – it’s hard to convert it into cash when you need it. This can make it hard to deal with unexpected financial challenges, such as a loss of income or a medical emergency.
Instead of using your savings to pay off your home loan, putting it in other investments (such as stocks, bonds or unit trusts) or even in high-interest savings or fixed deposit account.
2. If you have higher-interest debts
Mortgage interest rates are relatively low. If you have other debts that command higher interest rates – such as credit card debt – it makes more sense to pay them off first.
3. If the penalties for prepayment negate interest savings
Your bank may impose the following penalties when you:
Settle your mortgage loan before the expiry of your “lock-in period”. This is typically 1.5% of your outstanding loan.
Make a prepayment during the “lock-in period”.
Make a prepayment without giving your bank advance notice.
Even if you’ve passed your lock-in period and you’ve given your bank advance notice, depending on your bank, you can still be penalised for making a prepayment. Before you make a prepayment, check with your bank if these penalties apply, as they can negate any interest savings gained by settling your home loan early.
4. If you want to retain mortgage insurance
If you’re covered under mortgage insurance – that is, Mortgage Reducing Term Assurance (MRTA), or Home Protection Scheme (HPS) for HDB properties – your loan will be paid off in the event of death, terminal illness or disability. In such situations, you’ll be able to use your extra savings to support yourself or your beneficiaries.
However, if you’ve used your savings to pay off your home loan, not only will your savings be tied up in your home, you’d lose the financial buffer provided by your mortgage insurance.
Paying off your mortgage loan vs investing
Finally, you’d want to consider the trade-off between paying off your mortgage loan and using that money to invest instead.
The interest rates of mortgage loans are relatively low. HDB loans have an interest rate of 2.6% p.a., and bank loans have interest rates of around 1.8% p.a. If you can invest your money at a rate of return that outpaces your mortgage interest rates, then it might be worth doing that instead.
So, should you settle your mortgage early?
In short, although paying off your mortgage early could save you a significant amount in interest payments, it may not be a good idea if it depletes your savings, or if you can use your money to service high-interest debts or to invest in a way that outpaces your mortgage’s interest rate.
You may need to make use of mortgage repayment calculators and compound interest calculators to help you determine if the trade-off between paying off your home loan and investing is worth it.
Of course, everyone’s financial situation is different – it might be helpful to talk to a wealth planner or financial advisor before you decide if you should direct your savings or spare cash into paying off your mortgage.
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