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What to Know Before Refinancing Your Mortgage

Saturday, July 24th

What to Know Before Refinancing Your Mortgage

Information is power. Before refinancing your home, make sure you are armed with enough information to make good decisions and get the best deal.

Know what banks are requiring from you. Before starting the paperwork, go online and determine what information a lender is going to need from you in order to refinance your mortgage and start making a file and a list. That way, you're prepared and don't waste time or money.

Find out how much your home is worth. Home property values have plummeted across the nation. If you haven't had your home assessed in the past couple of years, do so early in the process so you know whether you have any equity in the home or whether you are "under water," meaning you owe more on the loan than the home is worth. Knowing this information will keep you from being taken by surprise later and help you make the right decision in regards to your mortgage.

Check your credit. Request a copy of your credit report and credit history before beginning the refinancing process. This will prevent you from being surprised and give you a chance to clear up any problems. While you may not think you have a credit problem because you have little debt and pay all your bills on time, frequently borrowers with little debt can wind up with a lower score because they have less of a record of credit.

Research the rates and the costs associated with refinancing. While interest rates on home mortgages are now at record lows, the closing costs on the mortgage can be high enough to dissuade you. Some banks are actually raising their closing costs in order to control the number of people wanting to refinance and reduce the number of loans they have to process. Refinancing costs such as closing costs, inspection fees, application fees and other costs can equal 4-6 percent of the principal on the loan.

Allow plenty of time. With interest rates this low, the number of people wanting to refinance has increased greatly. Consequently, the amount of time it takes for the lenders to process mortgage applications has increased greatly. It used to take 30 days. In some parts of the country, it has increased up to 45-90 days.

If you're interested in refinancing, be sure to go online and research all of your options. Not only should you research interests, fees and costs but be sure to also review what other consumers said about doing business with the lenders. Armed with information from a variety of lenders, you will be in a position to negotiate to get the best possible terms.

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Mortgage Refinance Company FAQ

When you refinance your mortgage, you essentially take out a new loan on your current home. Your new lender pays off your balance with your previous lender, and you start a new mortgage. It sounds complicated, but the average homeowner refinances their mortgage every four years!
A refinance could be a great opportunity under several conditions. These include a significant reduction in your interest rate, minimizing risk by changing from an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) to a fixed rate loan, or reducing the length of your mortgage (e.g from a 30-year fixed to a 15-year fixed).
There are three situations where it probably doesn't make sense to refinance. If you've had your current mortgage for a long time, most of your payments are now going towards the principal instead of interest; a refinance will put you back to paying more towards interest and cost you more money. Or, if your current mortgage has a prepayment penalty and the lender isn't willing to waive it, you could spend more in fees than you'll save by refinancing. Finally, if you're planning to move in the near future, you might not recoup the closing costs you'll pay to refinance before it comes time to sell your home.
A cash-out refinance lets you borrow against the equity you have built up in your home. Some people do a cash-out refinance to consolidate debts at a lower interest rate, to pay for college, or to remodel their home.
Absolutely. There are some highly-rated lenders whose primary focus is online home loans, both first mortgages and refinancing. Because these lenders often have less overhead than a local mortgage broker or bank, you may get lower interest rates and be able to negotiate on some of the fees to get the best possible terms.
You'll want to run the numbers to see if it makes sense for you. Will you be in the home long enough to recoup what you've paid in points to spend less on interest? Will it make a big enough difference in your monthly payments? Do you have the cash on hand or will you have to roll the cost of the points into the mortgage itself? The decision is ultimately yours, but do the math to see if it's a good option first.
Remember all of the paperwork it took when you got your current mortgage? Expect a refinance to be very similar. You'll have to provide proof of income and homeowner's insurance coverage, bank statements, and so forth. Your home will probably need a new appraisal, and you might have to dig up your documents from the first closing, like the property survey. The process will involve a hard pull on your credit, so don't be alarmed if you see your score dip temporarily.
That depends on how quickly you provide the required documentation, how fast your lender processes it, and several other factors. You can expect an estimated time to close ranging from 30-60 days.
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