I would like to achieve a lower mortgage interest rate than our current 5.75 percent 30 year fixed mortgage with Chase on our primary residence.
Our situation is a little unusual, making it difficult to navigate the normal paths of refinance. I tried to refinance once already but was burned by Chase employees who failed to accurately predict that they would deny our application, resulting in the loss of half of our application fee of $750. So I am very biased against any solution involving nonrefundable application fees.
The facts of our situation:
- House appraised value is $700k (we know this from the appraisal done when we tried to refinance)
- Mortgage is $230k
- Wages and salary income is very low, with much of it self-employed, about $10k/year. I formerly had a high income job making about $250k/year but am taking a few years off from the workplace.
- Interest and dividend income is about $35k
- $1.2 million in a taxable investment accounts (bond funds, stock funds, a few ETFs). We also have IRAs with significant assets.
- No debt other than the mortgage. We pay cash for our cars and pay off the full balance on all credit cards every month.
My understanding is we do not qualify for loan modification because we have too much in taxable "non retirement" accounts, and our experience is that we can't get a refi because we don't have enough income.
It seems like we should be a good loan candidate because we could just pay the loan off at any time we like by liquidating some of our taxable stock/bond holdings. And even if you just look at the loan to value ratio of the $230k mortgage vs. $700k home value the risk should be covered by the value of the home. My experience is that loan processors don't follow this common sense logic, they just look at their checklist and say "no income, no loan".
So given that I have a preference for some debt (I think of our mortgage as essentially margin funding a portion of our investment assets) and a desire to take advantage of current low tax rates, what are my options?
I started looking into two options but they seem like pretty unconventional strategies which makes me want some additional validation:
Pay off the mortgage and take out a margin loan. I can get a $500k margin loan at 3.75% from Fidelity. I would have to take out this higher debt level to get the low rate. The rate for $230k of margin is 6.575%; you get a big discount at the $500k level. I am comfortable with this level of debt and realize there is some risk of margin calls, but our investments are very conservative, making me comfortable with this.
Pay off the mortgage and take out a loan secured by stock. I guess the difference between this option and the margin loan is the tax treatment of the interest is not a investment interest expense. This seems to be a bit more exotic and I am not sure of the rates: I have just seen articles from lenders saying "as low as 3%"
Or...should I go down the refi path again? Would it really go anywhere with our unusual situation of high assets/low income or would it be another protracted laborious process with another denied loan?
I like the idea of mortgage interest deduction, but the reality is that it is not currently a factor for us. We really pay no income tax right now due to the low income. This will probably change in the next few years as either some of our self employment/business ventures start yielding returns or I return to the workplace. At that time the mortgage interest deduction would be advantageous, so my overall preference is to secure a conventional mortgage at today's low rates. I'm just not sure if this is possible...is it?