Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.
This past weekend, I was at a social event and someone posed this question to a group of people I happened to be standing with:
Does it make any sense to pay off my mortgage early?
Immediately, my cousin, who is a CPA, declared that it didn’t make any sense for most people. He said you would be better off to continue paying on a mortgage for at least 15 years of a 30-year mortgage, take the tax break that homeowners get for the interest deduction and invest whatever they save.
My neighbor, who is a Realtor, then chimed in that she had seen way too many families have to go through a short sale recently. She then went into more detail about how much heartache families are facing, stuck in situations where they owed more on their mortgage than their home was worth and needed to move. Her opinion was that if you were in a situation where you could pay your house off early, it was definitely better to do so.
Which left me thinking: is there a right answer to the question of whether or not you should pay your house off early?
Experience tells me that each situation is different and there are many variables to consider. If you are in a position where you can pay your mortgage off early, here are six things to consider as to whether it makes sense to pay your mortgage off early.
Paying Off A Mortgage Early? Six Things To Consider:
Does your employer match any retirement savings you save? If yes, are you maxing out the amount you can contribute? Employer-matched contributions to a retirement plan are often the wisest investment you can make.
Do you have any other debt other than your mortgage? If yes, then most likely it will make sense to try to pay that debt off before trying to pay off your mortgage early.
Do you have at least 24 months of living expenses in liquid assets? Many people suggest a lower number, but after talking with plenty of people who used to have 6-months savings three years ago, I have raised my suggested number from 6 months to 24 months of savings. Yes, I know that is conservative.
Do you currently owe more on your mortgage than your home is worth? If yes, then ask yourself the question of how much you really enjoy living in that particular house. Would you be willing to buy it again for more than it is worth now?
Does the amount of your mortgage bother you? Do you find yourself up late at night worrying about how you are ever going to get out of debt and pay off your mortgage? If yes, what value is peace of mind to you?
Do you think you could get a better return on your money if you invested it in other things? Paying off your mortgage early is really an investment decision. When you line up your various investment track records and future choices, how well does paying off your mortgage early stack up with your other options?
Summary — Is Paying Off Your Mortgage Early A Good Idea?
It depends. I have listened to the experts for years debate this topic and in the end it all comes down to a very personal decision that is not solely based on dollars and cents and returns on investment. At the end of the day, I have seen very smart people choose both sides: some to pay off a mortgage and some to continue to pay “normally.”
Paying off a mortgage early isn’t a matter of making a wise decision — it is most often a matter of personal preference.
No matter what the experts tell you.
Justin McHood works for Academy Mortgage and is based in Chandler, AZ. He is a contributor to Zillow Blog and has conversations about mortgages whenever he can. Learn more about Justin at http://www.mortgagecommentator.com.