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Refinance a mortgage at the right time and for right reasons

Author: Jessica Bennet
Community Mentor
Ask Jessica
Posted on: 05th Jun, 2005 10:46pm
Are you stuck with increasing monthly payments and looking for favorable rates and terms on your loan? Or, do you want to consolidate your debts and pay them off faster? All these and more can be done by refinancing your mortgage. If you want to know what refinancing is all about, check out the following topics:
Do it yourself!

What is refinancing?

Refinancing replaces your current mortgage with a new loan that has a more favorable interest rate and terms that you can afford to manage. The new loan is secured on the same property as your current loan. The new loan funds are used to pay down the current mortgage while any remaining money can be used to your best advantage.
Example: Mr. X and Mr. Y both took out a mortgage loan worth $400,000. After 4 years, both of them paid off $200,000. Mr. X then took out another home loan worth $200,000 in order to repay the existing loan balance.
On the other hand, Mr. Y took out another mortgage worth $300,000 in order to repay the unpaid loan balance which is $200,000. Mr. Y could use the remaining balance in order to fulfill other financial obligations.
The first scenario is a simple refinance while the second is that of a "cash-out refinance".

5 Reasons why you should finance

If you're thinking of refinancing your house, check out these 6 reasons why a mortgage refinance might be right for you.
  • You want to save more:
    Your monthly payments will be reduced if you get a lower interest rate or when the term of the loan s extended. However, with an extended term, you will be paying more in interest during the life of the loan.
  • You want to pay down your mortgage quickly:
    You can shorten the length of your mortgage by reducing the term of the loan. Your Monthly payments will go up, but you will be able to save more in interest payments. Moreover, you'll be debt free sooner.
  • You need extra cash to pay off credit cards:
    If you have enough equity in your home, you can refinance and borrow more than the current loan balance. With the extra money, you can pay off high interest debts such as credit card balances or installment loans. This refinance loan may be tax deductible under certain conditions.
  • You wish to consolidate 2 loans into one:
    If there's enough equity (due to high appreciation), you can consolidate a 1st and 2nd mortgage into a single mortgage. The monthly payment on the new loan might be lower than the combined payments on the first loan and the second mortgage.
  • You want to convert an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) into a Fixed Rate Mortgage (FRM):
    A FRM prevents the lender from ncreasing your monthly interest payments over the life of the loan, unlike with an ARM. This means your monthly payments will remain the same.
  • You want to keep your name in home during divorce:
    In case of divorce, you may want to keep home and at the same time and want your ex-spouse to be clear from mortgage payments. For that you should refinance the loan into a new one in your name only.

When to refinance a mortgage

"Should I refinance my house now?" This is what most people ask when they're looking to reduce their mortgage payments by taking advantage of low rates. To find the answer, check out the mortgage refinance tips below:
  • Build up equity:
    You can refinance when you have built up at least 10% equity in your home (Fannie Mae owned mortgages, require 5% equity). It is possible for you to refinance if you have less than 5% equity, but you may have to pay a certain amount of money in order to make up the difference in equity.
  • Check if mortgage refinance interest rates are low:
    It's better to follow the 2% Rule. The 2% Rule allows you to enjoy the benefits of home refinance if the refinance interest rate is 2% lower than your current loan's interest rate. The savings in interest will help you recoup the costs of the new loan, provided you aren't planning to move soon (the break-even period). However, there are no-cost as well as low-cost refinance loans where the costs of getting the loan are included. However, these loans have comparatively higher rates than loans that do not include the refinance costs and your options are limited when the credit market is experiencing a slump. Learn more about the when to refinance rule of thumb. As always, compare mortgage refinance interest rates offered by different lenders in order to get the best interest rate. This will help you save more over the life of the loan.
  • Pay off any late payments:
    There is no such limit on the number of times you can go for home refinance loans. Most lenders prefer that you have no late payments in the last 12 months before you refinance.
  • Remove negatives and improve your credit score:
    Get your credit report from the bureaus and review it for any negative items (late payments, collections, etc) and inaccurate items. Dispute any inaccurate items and remove them from the report. Pay off as much of your debt as you can. Otherwise, you won't get a low interest rate and may not even qualify for a refinance loan. Of course, there are lenders in the subprime lending market who may offer you a mortgage refinance loan, but it's better to avoid them as they'll charge higher interest rates and fees and could be fraudulent.

When not to refinance

Refinancing is not a good idea if:
  • Your property value has gone down:
    If your property value goes down and you refinance up to 80% of the appraised value, your original mortgage amount may be higher than the amount you borrow. Therefore, the new loan will not be enough to pay down the existing one.
  • You have been paying off the first loan for a long time:
    If you are almost finished paying off a 30 year fixed mortgage, then refinancing is not a good idea. You will lose equity in proportion to the amount you borrow over and above the remaining loan amount.
  • You have used up enough equity:
    Refinancing is not a good idea if you have already reduced the amount of your equity by taking out a 2nd mortgage or a home equity loan. Refinance loans for 100% of the loan are rare, and with the mortgage market currently in a crisis, are hard to find.
  • You have a few years left on the current loan:
    If there are only a few years left on your current loan, then refinancing is not a good idea. Taking out a new loan will only put you deeper into debt just when you were about to become debt free.
Refinancing makes sense for the right reasons and at the right time. You need to decide whether to opt for a simple interest rate adjustment refinance or a refinance that will provide you with extra money. If you'd like to check out what mortgage refinance rates and terms are currently available, request a no-obligation free mortgage refinance quotes from our community lenders and brokers.
Related Readings
Related Forum Discussions

Posted on: 05th Jun, 2005 10:46 pm
Are you burdened with rising monthly payments and seeking better terms and conditions on your mortgage? Or, are you looking to consolidate your unpaid debts and get rid of them faster? All these mortgage scenarios and many more can be accomplished by mortgage refinancing. To get the basic idea on refinancing, go through these topics:
Do it yourself!

What is mortgage refinance?

With mortgage refinancing, you can replace your original mortgage with a new one with better terms and conditions but the new mortgage should be within your affordable limit. The same property that you used as collateral to secure the original mortgage is used to secure the new loan also. The new loan proceeds are utilized to pay off the existing mortgage. In case there is any remaining money after paying down the original mortgage, that amount can be used to meet other financial obligations.

Example: Suppose each of the two borrowers A and B took out mortgage loan worth of $500,000. Again, say after 5 years, both A and B paid down $250,000. So, for both these borrowers, remaining unpaid mortgage amount is $250,000.

Borrower A then took out another loan worth of $250,000, so as to repay the remaining balance on the existing mortgage. This depicts a case of simple refinance.

Borrower B then took out another loan worth of $350,000. Out of this new loan amount, B used $250,000 to pay down the original mortgage. B could use the remaining $100,000 to meet other financial obligations. This describes a case of cash out refinance.

The first scenario is a simple refinance while the second is that of a "cash-out refinance".

5 Reasons that make refinancing sensible

There are some strong reasons which make mortgage refinance a very sensible move. Here we delve upon 5 of those -
  • To reduce monthly payment:
    If the mortgage rate is lowered or if the mortgage term is extended, your monthly payment amount gets reduced. With reduced monthly payment, you can pay off your mortgage with more ease. In case the term of the loan is extended, you have to however pay more in interest during the whole life of the loan.

  • To switch from ARM to FRM:
    Fixed rate mortgage (FRM) offers you the certainty of making fixed payment over the term of the loan. Whereas, in case of adjustable rate mortgage (ARM), the monthly payment amount may rise or fall, depending upon the prevailing mortgage rate. So, in case of ARM, the monthly payment amount is not fixed; rather it is uncertain. If you are looking for certainty in payments, then you can convert your existing ARM to an FRM through mortgage refinance.

  • To repay mortgage faster:
    If you want to pay down the mortgage early, then you can shorten the term of the loan. However, here your monthly payment amount increases. Here, over the term of the loan, you save more in interest payments. You also attain property ownership early.

  • To combine two loans into one:
    If you have adequate equity in your property, you can then consolidate your first mortgage and the second mortgage into a single mortgage. The main advantage of this type of consolidation is that the monthly payment on the single loan is less than the combined payments on the 1st mortgage and the 2nd mortgage.

  • To pay off high interest debts:
    If you have sufficient equity in your home, you can opt for a cash out refinance. You can use the remaining money to pay high interest debts such as credit card bills, car loans, installment loans etc.

What is the best time to refinance?

You may not always be eligible for refinancing or the situation may not always be conducive for refinancing. You have to time your move correctly so as to reap its benefits. You need to check out these crucial things carefully before applying for mortgage refinancing -

  • If you have built up equity:
    You may be eligible for refinancing when you have built up equity of at least 10% in your home. However, for mortgages owned by Fannie Mae, the equity requirement is 5%. It is possible to get the refinance approval even with less than 5% equity, but in that case you may have to pay a certain sum of money to compensate for the deficiency in equity.

  • If the refinance rate is sufficiently low:
    If the current mortgage rate is sufficiently lower than the rate on the original mortgage, then it may be wise to opt for refinancing. Here, you need to follow the 2% Rule. As per the 2% Rule, refinancing is beneficial for you in case the refinance rate is 2% lower than the rate on the original loan. Here, the savings accrued from low rate outweigh the costs of the new loan after a certain period of time, which is called the break-even period. To get benefits of refinance, you have to stay in the house at least till the break-even period.

  • If you have removed negative items and paid off debts:
    Before plunging into refinancing, obtain your credit report from the credit bureaus and review it carefully. If you find some negative items such as collections or late payments, dispute those items immediately and get those items removed from your report. Prior to refinancing, pay down as much debts as possible. All these will work in your favor in getting the refinance approval.

  • If you have no late payments in past 1 year:
    If you have history of late payments in the past 1 year, then your refinance appeal may be rejected. So, before refinancing, make sure you don't have any late payments in the past 1 year.

When refinancing is not a good idea?

Despite the fact that refinance has several benefits, it is not always a good idea to go for mortgage refinancing. There are some cases when your refinance appeal is rejected by the lender or it may not fetch the desired returns. Here are some cases when refinancing is not a good idea at all-

  • If the property value has declined sharply:
    If the value of your property has declined appreciably, the remaining balance on your original loan may be higher than the refinance loan amount. In other words, with the new loan proceeds, you won't be able to pay down the original mortgage loan.

  • If you have already used up your equity:
    Your equity is the key to get approved for refinancing. If you have already used up your equity by taking out a home equity loan (HEL) or a home equity line of credit (HELOC), then going for refinancing would not be a good idea.

  • If you have only a few years left on the existing loan:
    It does not make good sense to go for refinancing if you have only a few years left on your existing loan. It is not rational to refinance the loan which you have almost paid off. If you have almost paid down a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, then it is unwise to opt for refinancing. After all, refinancing is just like taking out a new loan and all the costs associated with taking out a fresh loan are applicable here too.
If you have the right reasons and if the time is right, then you can surely seek for mortgage refinance. However, before making the final decision, do the necessary research, take quotes from different lenders, make a comparative analysis and choose your lender.

Related Readings
Related Forum Discussions

meta title: 
Refinance a mortgage at the right time and for right reasons.
at 6% right now, you'd have to determine if the costs of reducing your rate(s) would be offset by the savings. how long do you plan to remain in the home? will you realize a real savings within the first couple of years based on what it will cost? answer these questions first. shop around anyway and see what rates and fees are out there for you.
Posted on: 09th May, 2009 06:40 am
Divorced just over a year with ruined credit from his bill paying tricks, he's
coercing me to refinance him off the mortgage when I owe more than it's worth. I am making the payments on time but my credit was ruined during the marriage and I don't know how to find help. I understand his only option is to have the house auctioned off for a loss but then me and our kids will be homeless. Isn't there something I can do? I pay my bills and all I want is for him to be off the mortgage! Please help!
Posted on: 18th May, 2009 12:01 pm
Hi Angela!

Welcome to forums!

You're in a tough situation. You can contact your lender and apply for a loan modification. The lender will judge your situation and decide whether he would accept your request or not. This will help you in saving the property as well as your credit score. When you're in a better financial situation, refinance the loan and get the mortgage transferred in your name.

Feel free to ask if you have further queries.

Posted on: 19th May, 2009 09:46 pm
i think in this precarious situation you should opt for child help as alimony from your ex-husband which will serve some purpose for payment to the mortgage.
Discuss about loan modification to your lender.
:wink: :wink:
Posted on: 21st May, 2009 12:08 am
I suggest that you continue to make your payments and ignire his requests. Just follow your divorce decree. He wants you off probably because he is trying to buy something else and cannot qualify with your loan on his credit report.

How much is your home worth and what is your loan balance?
Posted on: 23rd May, 2009 05:45 pm
Help me please make a decision.
I paid off my 30 year mortgage about 4 years ago. It was a hi rate and i was able to pay it off. Then i decided to take a large home equity line of credit, my home is worth $800,000.00 and i had excellent credit *00 credit score.
So i took $200,00.00 i re-did my entire house, extension, kitchen and bathrooms. I owe $190,000.00 at 5.7% on a 15 year loan and i have a little over 12 years left on the loan. My monthly payment is $1740.00 and i also make 1-2 extra payments per year when i can. So the question is? Should i re-finance? Between the closing costs and the points on a 15 year loan or even a 10 year loan does not sound like it is a good idea. Help me?? My email is Thank you
Posted on: 01st Jun, 2009 10:59 am
robert your best way to calculate if it makes sense dollars-and-cents-wise is to determine how long it will take you to recover the costs of the refinance based on the savings in rate. if you plan to be in the home long enough (another 5 years at least), it might be worth your trouble.

of course, rates being funny like they are, they yo-yo each day lately, and you're rapidly losing ground, as they ratchet up a bit. at 5.7% you're still doing pretty well, and i can't disagree with you on it not sounding like a good idea, especially since you are in the habit of making prepayments.

your home equity line of credit is undoubtedly variable, which might color your decision a bit, though rates are definitely in your favor as they go.

it's clearly your decision to make, but unless rates spike quite a bit, it seems a good idea to stick with what you've got.
Posted on: 01st Jun, 2009 11:10 am
we have filed bankruptcy in 11/07. and we could not include the second mortgage so we decided to keep our house. our house payment we can handle , but the second mortgage at 11.75 percent is killing us. can people ever refinance these loans?
Posted on: 03rd Jun, 2009 06:34 am
the answer to your question is yes, lou. lenders often refinance second mortgages. however, your bankruptcy filing is going to get in the way of whatever you try to accomplish.
Posted on: 03rd Jun, 2009 06:37 am
the loan on our house in in my husband's name only. the deed is in both names- tenants in entirity we want to refi. the mortgage tells us they will do a streamline refinance but needs me to sign a deed of trust. should i? we live in maryland.
Posted on: 04th Jun, 2009 01:48 pm
Hi Guest,

Does the lender wants to include your name in the mortgage deed? If yes, then you need to sign the deed of trust.
Posted on: 04th Jun, 2009 11:13 pm
I have a Double-wide on a perament foundation.I own the property also my credit score is about a 550 now my husband 620-650. we are just tryin to find someone to give us a fha loan we owe 148,000 th home value at 200,000 int he state of delaware could you recommend someone.
Posted on: 09th Jun, 2009 11:47 am
It will be difficult for you to get a FHA loan as your score is only 550. However, your husband can qualify for a FHA loan as his score is around 620-650. He can take the loan alone in his name. Your husband can speak to the local lenders of your area and check out what type of rates you would get. You can even speak to the lenders of this community and seek a no obligation free mortgage consultation. This will help you in knowing whether you would get a loan or not.
Posted on: 09th Jun, 2009 11:36 pm
Kindly explain how this term is used in the world of mortgages.
Thank you.
Posted on: 11th Jun, 2009 01:00 pm
Hi people, great forum you have here!

I own two properties and would like your opinion if I should bother refi'ing.

My current middle fico score is 637

I own a 3 unit apt building that I do not live in. I've owned it for 5 years and never been late on a payment. I currently owe $64k and the APR is 8.72%. lists it's value at roughly $119k so I have plenty of equity in it.

My primary residence has a 1st mortgage at 5.88% and I owe $45k on it.
There is also a 2nd mortgage at 9.48% and I owe $24k on it.
According to zillow this property is worth $95k.

I have called about refi's but have been told that I need to pay for an apprasial out of pocket BEFORE they will give me a yes or no answer to the refi. I'm concerned that after paying the $800 for 2 apprasials, the bank could come back and refuse to refi. Then, I will have wasted $800.

Any help or advice would be appriciated.

thank you
Posted on: 11th Jun, 2009 01:24 pm
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