First Person: We Knocked 17 Years Off Our Mortgage in Just 7 Years

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When I heard President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech recently, I was interested in what he had to say about a new refinancing plan to help underwater homeowners. I decided to check with my mortgage company to find out where we stood with our payoff date. I discovered that after 7 years, we had knocked an additional 10 years off the original 30-year loan. We now have only 13 instead of 23 more years to pay off our mortgage even if we pay the very minimum.

We wiped a total of 17 years off our mortgage by sending in extra money early and often. I believe that if I had waited until now to send extra payments, we never could have had the amazing results while all of my neighbors complain about being underwater on their mortgages.

According to Obama, underwater homeowners could take advantage of the record low interest rates. He said homeowners could save $3,000 a year on their mortgages. I am hoping I would qualify for the proposed plan, especially if it doesn't cost taxpayers anything. I'm not in favor of a homeowner bailout, but refinancing would help a lot of homeowners.

We pay an interest rate of 4.625 percent, but a free program to reduce it to 3.6 percent would surely save us thousands over the course of our loan. Perhaps it will motivate responsible homeowners to pay off their mortgages so we can move to being a debt-free nation.

We knocked that additional 10 years off our mortgage with very little effort. I have simply been rounding our payments up and have sent in a few extra payments of $50 here and there. I also used unexpected windfalls such as work bonuses to help pay down our mortgage. According to the mortgage company representative, we could have our house paid off in seven more years by paying about $150 extra per week.

I'm not exactly sure how the new housing aid would affect homeowners such as me who are right on the line as far as being underwater on our homes. Zillow.com estimates our home is worth about $3,000 less than what we owe. According to experts, 11 million homeowners are underwater on their mortgages.

I still have questions about Obama's proposal. Would this new program discourage people such as me from paying extra so that we can get right side up on our mortgages? It seems to me mortgage companies should offer free refinances to all homeowners in an effort to complete to keep our business.

From the mortgage company's perspective, I'd think a responsible homeowner who tries to pay down their mortgage as quickly as possible is a better bet compared to a person who bought a home they couldn't afford. Perhaps we will take our equity and buy a step-up home one day, providing more reliable business to the mortgage company.

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