Mortgage interest rates are big news. Everybody is reporting them daily, with even minor fluctuations getting major press coverage. With rates lately hovering around 4.5%, it's easy to forget when people shopped hard to get 8%, a large chunk of time back in the 1990s. So, it's really a much better time right now, and lamenting 4.5% instead of 4.625% is certainly happening, but there are other considerations that can influence your cost of ownership on a monthly basis more than that eighth of a point in mortgage interest.
What about the energy efficiency of the home? So many homes built in the boom years were built in a quality way, but there was not necessarily a great deal of attention placed on energy efficiency. It's quite common for utility bills to heat, cool, and power today's homes to be a quarter or more of the mortgage payment amount. And, recent studies show that, while homeowners are increasing the efficiency of their appliances, they're also consuming more energy to operate the average home. How is that? More stuff. Computers and printers that are left on are bigger consumers of energy than you might think.
When you're talking to a mortgage broker about interest rates, you might want to discuss how you can increase the efficiency of the home with a second mortgage or just by using any excess over your planned down payment as a cash investment in upgrading appliances, heating and cooling equipment. Those are the largest consumers of electricity in the home, and in a home with low efficiency units, could cost less per month to operate than the increase in payments to finance them. Get your local utility to do an energy audit to give you estimates of dollar savings.