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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.
I took out a 30 year loan for $289,000 @4.5% interest. My PI is $1489 per month and I have been in the house for almost 2 years. My current principal is $269,000. I am starting to pay an extra $800 to principal each month to pay the loan early and save on interest.

With interest rates dropping to 3.5% for 30 years and 2.5% for 15 years.
1. Is it worth me refinancing?
2. How much would it cost to refinance? And, how long would it take me to recoup the cost?
3. What would my monthly PI be?
4.If I pay about $500 extra a month on the principal how long would it take me to pay the loan off and how much interest would I pay over the life of the loan?
If you think of other things I should consider, please let me know.

Posted on: 30th Jul, 2012 07:46 pm
Hi Amybooks!

Welcome to forums!

If you plan to stay in the property for a longer period of time and want to lower your interest rates, then refinancing your mortgage will be a good option. The cost of refinance may vary from one state to another. You should stay in the property for at least 2 years in order to recoup the costs.

Feel free to ask if you've further queries.

Posted on: 31st Jul, 2012 01:28 am
We had a 2nd mortage that we neg. down and paid off for less. (18 mos ago) How long do we have to wait until we can refinance our home loan. (Never missed pmt on 1st mortage)
Posted on: 15th Aug, 2012 11:49 am
Hi Guest,

You can contact the lenders now and apply for a refinance. It will depend upon the lender as to whether or not he will consider your request and help you refinance the loan.

Posted on: 15th Aug, 2012 11:16 pm
can 80,000mtg.refy 20 years left rate5.25 now
Posted on: 14th Oct, 2012 03:09 pm
Hi dannyboy!

Welcome to forums!

You will be able to refinance your mortgage provided you have a good credit score and income. Apart from this, you should also have equity in your property in order to get a refinance.

Feel free to ask if you've further queries.

Posted on: 16th Oct, 2012 12:55 am
I am trying to refinance (cashout) 3 yrs after chapter 7 due to business closure. Have a primary which is top end mobile home but also have second home. What lender would consider providing a mortgage for one of these?
Posted on: 18th Dec, 2012 05:32 pm

Welcome to forums!

As 3 years have passed since your Chapter 7 discharge, you may not qualify for a conventional loan. You should contact the local FHA lenders and check out your options.

Feel free to ask if you've further queries.

Posted on: 19th Dec, 2012 09:58 pm
All I want to do is refi my modular home. I just want the lower intrest rate and to be able to pay it off sooner. Why is it so hard to find someone who does refi on modular homes...
Posted on: 12th Jan, 2013 07:29 am
Welcome sheila,

Most modular homes lose their value very sson.. As a result most of the lenders are not interested in giving you a mortgage refinance. This community has a large number of lenders. You can seek a no obligation free mortgage quote from them and check out if they can help you in this regard.
Posted on: 13th Jan, 2013 11:13 pm
I was almost finished with a $50,000 cash-out refi for my condo. My son lives in one room and the other 2 rooms are rented out. So it is a 'rental' for IRS tax purposes. It is a 1976 built building, 12 Units in bldg, only my unit is a 'rental' property (all others are owner occupied vacation units), 25+ buildings in project. Building is 'operated' by its own HOA which levies all operating and maintenance and improvements to the owners.
The 'last' glitch I ran into was that the Underwriter would not accept the risk because the HOA only has a $12000 reserve and they tell me the Freddie Mac REQUIRES the HOA have a 20% reserve based on the Appraisal. My unit appraised for $190,000 so the Underwriter will not 'do' the refi unless the HOA has a reserve of at least $38,000.
I don't understand this 'requirement' because that reserve only relates to 'my' appraisal. If they want the HOA to have a 20% reserve, I would think that would relate to 20% of all 12 units in the building, which should push about $400,000 (Bldg insured for $2.2M). That will not happen.
Is there some other information I should look for? or another Mortgage company to look to for refi? :(
Posted on: 16th Mar, 2013 10:14 pm
I will suggest you to look out for other lenders in order to get a mortgage refinance.
Posted on: 18th Mar, 2013 02:03 am
igot a 2012 moudle home i have my on land i owe 70,000 on it it is finace at 6.59 i looking to refince at a lower rate my credit is fair it is 635
Posted on: 11th Jun, 2013 12:01 pm

Welcome to the forums!

You will have to get in touch with the local lenders in order to know whether or not they will refinance mobile homes. It is true that not all lenders will be ready to refinance mobile homes.

Feel free to ask if you've further queries.

Posted on: 13th Jan, 2014 10:14 pm
myself along with my brother & sister own a property in Michigan and my sister lives in the property left by our father. My sister wants to refinance the home and the bank is requesting that my spouse also has to sign on the mortgage even though she is not on the title. The bank says its Michigan law that requires a spouse to sign. My sister refinanced the home in 2006 and the bank didn't require my spouse to sign then. Is this a new Michigan law.
Posted on: 14th Sep, 2014 07:10 pm
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