What Happens When You Pay Off Your Mortgage? All You Need to Know

By Alene Laney · April 09, 2024 · 7 minute read

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What Happens When You Pay Off Your Mortgage? All You Need to Know

When you pay off your mortgage, you may have some paperwork and account switching (such as property taxes) to take care of. And you may look forward to greater cash flow.

But is paying off a mortgage always the right move? In some cases, a person who is about to pay off a mortgage may want to consider a couple of options that could make more sense for their particular financial situation.

Learn more about the payoff path and alternatives here.

Pros and Cons of Paying Off Your Mortgage

Paying off your mortgage is a fantastic milestone to reach, but it’s not without trade-offs. Here are a few considerations to help you make the best decision for your situation.

Pros of Paying Off a Mortgage

Cons of Paying Off a Mortgage

No monthly payment May lose tax deduction
No more interest paid to the lender Your cash is all tied up in your home’s equity
More cash in your pocket each month If you pay extra to pay off your home, you may miss out on investment strategies
You’ll need less income in retirement Lost opportunity costs for other uses for your money
Greatly reduced risk of foreclosure No tax deduction for mortgage interest, if you’re among the few who still take the deduction



💡 Quick Tip: Thinking of using a mortgage broker? That person will try to help you save money by finding the best loan offers you are eligible for. But if you deal directly with an online mortgage lender, you won’t have to pay a mortgage broker’s commission, which is usually based on the mortgage amount.

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.


What Happens When You Pay Off Your Mortgage?

Here’s how mortgage payoff works:

•   To get the amount you need to pay off your mortgage, the first thing you need to do is request a mortgage payoff letter. If you pay the amount on your last statement, you won’t have the right amount. A mortgage payoff letter will include the appropriate fees and the amount of interest through the day you’re planning to pay the loan off.

•   Know that the payoff letter is only good for a set amount of time, and make sure to get your payment in on time.

•   Follow the instructions you’re given about where and how to submit the payment.

•   Once you’ve sent the payoff amount, your mortgage lender is responsible for sending you and the county recorder documentation to release the mortgage and lien on your home.

•   You should be sent any funds remaining in escrow.

•   You will want to contact your insurance company about this change if your insurance was paid along with your mortgage payment and have the bills switched over to you directly.

•   If your property taxes were paid as part of your mortgage, you will want to contact your local tax collector about shifting those bills to you as well.

What Documents Do You Get After Paying Off a Mortgage?

After paying off your mortgage, you should receive (or have access to) documents proving you paid off the mortgage and no longer have a lien attached to your home. These include:

•   Satisfaction or release of mortgage. This document will be filed with the county recorder (or other applicable recording agency). It states that the mortgage has been satisfied and the lien released.

•   A canceled promissory note. When you closed on your home, one of the documents you signed was called a promissory note. Now that the mortgage has been satisfied, you may receive this document back with a “canceled” or “paid in full,” though it’s also possible you may have to call and request the document.

•   A statement on the paid-off loan balance. Your lender should send you a statement showing that your loan has been paid in full.

What Should You Do After Paying Off Your Mortgage?

After you pay off your mortgage, you’ll need to take care of a few housekeeping items (a couple are mentioned above).

•   Close your escrow account. Since you’re no longer sending a mortgage payment to a mortgage servicer, you’ll need to take care of the items in your escrow account, primarily your taxes and homeowners insurance.

•   Contact your county recorder’s office to double-check that the mortgage satisfaction paperwork has been filed. Once that has been filed, you will have a clear title on the property.

•   Make plans for the extra money. Whether you want to make a bigger push in your retirement account, enlarge your emergency fund, or pay off other debts, you now likely have more cash to do it with. If you don’t make plans for the extra money, it might just evaporate.

Recommended: 2024 Home Loan Help Center

Is Prepaying a Good Idea?

Generally, paying off your mortgage early is a great idea. It reduces the principal, which in turn reduces the amount you’ll pay in interest over the life of your loan. Still, there are reasons that some homeowners consider not paying their mortgage off early.

Most lenders do not charge a prepayment penalty, but home loans signed before January 10, 2014, may include one. Nonconforming mortgage loans signed after that date may have a prepayment penalty that applies within the first three years of repayment. (The different types of mortgage loans include conforming and nonconforming conventional mortgages.)

The best way to find out if prepayment is subject to a penalty is to call your mortgage servicer. The terms of your mortgage paperwork should also outline whether or not you have a prepayment penalty.

Should You Refinance Instead?

Another option you may consider is refinancing your mortgage. There are several reasons you may want to refinance instead of paying off your mortgage.

Lower monthly payment. Getting a lower rate or different loan term may lower your monthly payment. Be sure to check out current rates, and use a calculator for mortgages to find out what a possible new payment would be.

Shorter mortgage term. Refinancing a 30-year mortgage to, say, a 15-year mortgage can keep you close to paying off your mortgage while also providing financial flexibility.

Spare cash. Whatever your need is — home renovations, college funding, paying off higher-interest debt — a cash-out refinance might be an option.



💡 Quick Tip: Compared to credit cards and other unsecured loans, you can usually get a lower interest rate with a cash-out refinance loan.

The Takeaway

What happens when you pay off your mortgage? After doing a jig in the living room, you’ll need to take care of a few housekeeping tasks and make plans for the extra money.

An option to consider: Would a refinance to a shorter term make more sense, or pulling cash out with a cash-out refi? It can be wise to review all your options as you move toward taking this major financial step.

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.


SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.

FAQ

Is paying off your mortgage a good idea?

The answer depends on an individual’s situation. If you have the money and you’d love to shed that monthly obligation for good, paying off a mortgage is a good idea. But if you’re worried about funding your retirement or losing opportunities to invest, paying off your mortgage may not be a good idea for you.

What do you do after you pay off your mortgage?

Ensure that you have received your canceled promissory note, and update your property tax and insurance billers on where to bill you. Since you no longer will have a mortgage servicing company, you must pay your insurance and property taxes yourself.

Is it better to pay off a mortgage before you retire?

Paying off a mortgage could give you more money to work with in retirement. But if your retirement accounts need a boost, most financial experts contend that allocating money there is a better idea than paying off your mortgage. Paying off a mortgage when you have low cash reserves can also put you at risk.

Does paying off your mortgage early affect your credit score?

Surprisingly, paying off your mortgage early won’t affect your credit score much. Your credit score has already taken into account the years of full, on-time payments you made each month.


Photo credit: iStock/katleho Seisa

*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

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