The Four Best Questions To Ask Before Refinancing Your Mortgage

The Best Questions to Ask Before Refinancing Your Mortgage1) Do I have enough equity to get a mortgage?

To get a conventional loan, you will usually need to have at least 20 percent equity. This means that your house will have to be worth at least $250,000 to get a $200,000 loan. If you have less equity, you could end up having to pay for private mortgage insurance, which can easily add $100 or more to your monthly payment.

2) How’s my credit?

Most lenders will look at your credit score as a part of determining whether or not to make you a loan. With conventional lenders, your rate will depend on your score and the higher it is, the lower your payment will be. Other lenders, like the FHA and VA programs have an all or nothing rule. If you qualify, your rate won’t be based on your credit, but if your score is too low, you won’t be able to get any loan. 

3) What do I want to accomplish?

Mortgages typically offer a choice as to their term. While the 30-year loan is the most popular, shorter term mortgages save you money since you pay less interest over their lives. They also get you out of debt sooner, at least with regard to your house.

The drawback is that they carry higher payments since you pay off more principal every month. This can make them less affordable for some borrowers.

4) How’s my current loan?

If you have an adjustable rate mortgage, you may want to switch to a fixed rate mortgage simply for the additional security it offers you. On the other hand, if you are planning to move relatively soon, your current mortgage could be a better deal whehter it’s fixed- or adjustable-rate.

When trying to decide what to do, compare the cost of refinancing with what it would cost you in additional interest to hold on to your existing loan. While the breakdown is different for every borrower, generally, you’ll need to keep your current house and loan for anywhere from three to six years to break even on the costs of refinancing.

Deciding what to do with your mortgage can be complicated. Working with a qualified loan broker that can consider every angle with you can help you to make a better decision.

The Pros and Cons of A Fixed Rate Second Mortgage vs. Opening a Home Equity Line of Credit

The Pros and Cons of Refinancing Your Mortgage vs. Opening a Home Equity Line of CreditWhen it comes to a mortgage and the financial stability of your home, there’s no such thing as too much you can know in the case of keeping your biggest investment safe. If you’re looking at paying off debt and are considering using the equity in your home, here are a few things you’ll need to know about refinancing your mortgage and home equity lines of credit.

Fixed Second Mortgage vs. HELOC

Refinancing your mortgage to access equity (without changing the existing first mortgage)comes in two basic flavors: a fixed rate mortgage or a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). A fixed rate second mortgage is also known as a home equity loan. While you’re expected to pay the amount loaned back in monthly payments for a pre-determined number of years, you’ll receive this money at a fixed rate of interest. On the other hand, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) is similar to a credit card where the amount you can borrow is determined by your credit history and income, and funds are withdrawn using this line of credit, can be paid down, and then drawn back on again.

All About The Interest Rates

When you refinance using a fixed rate second mortgage, the interest rate will be fixed so you won’t have to worry about any volatile increases down the road. Since this qualifies as a second mortgage, the interest rate on it will be higher than your typical first mortgage but lower than a HELOC. When it comes to HELOC’s, the amount of interest you’ll be paying will be linked to the prime rate and will fluctuate with the market, and this means you may end up paying a higher amount of interest than you bargained on.

How The Interest Is Calculated

While refinancing your mortgage can seem like a great opportunity since you’ll be able to deal with a fixed interest rate, it’s worth noting that the way you’ll be charged is different. A mortgage refinancing will charge you interest on the total amount of your loan while a HELOC will only require you to pay interest on the money you’ve withdrawn from it, so you’ll want to consider which option works best for you.

When it comes to getting a second mortgage or opening a HELOC, there are pros and cons to both that should be considered before delving into either. As these can risk the security of your most important investment, you’ll want to carefully weigh what will work best for you. If you’re curious about other homes in your area or are thinking of downsizing, you may want to contact one of our local mortgage professionals for more information.

HARP Refinancing Ends in 2016: Here’s How to Take Advantage Before It’s Gone

HARP Refinancing Ends in 2016: Here's How to Take Advantage Before It's GoneMany homeowners are struggling to keep up with their mortgage payments on a monthly basis, and it can often seem like there are limited options for remedying the situation. If you haven’t heard of HARP refinancing and you’re a homeowner who’s looking for a lower interest rate, this may be the right solution to your payment woes. Instead of letting the opportunity blow by, here’s all you need to know before this option ends in 2016.

The Details On HARP Refinancing

Known as HARP, the Home Affordable Refinance Program was created in 2009 following the economic crash that was brought on by the housing crisis. In the wake of hard economic times, the program was devised as a means of streamlining the process for those who couldn’t refinance their mortgage. Instead of reliable homeowners being stuck with a rate because they don’t qualify for refinancing, HARP enables them to acquire lower interest rates.

Some Of The Requirements For HARP

In order for you to be able to apply for a HARP refinancing, you must have a mortgage owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac that was provided to you on or before May 21, 2009. While you’ll want to check with your mortgage holder to determine if you are eligible for this refinancing option, you’ll have to be up-to-date on your mortgage payments with a loan-to-value ratio that is above 80%. For more information on a HARP refinancing, you can visit their website for all the details.

Carefully Consider The Closing Costs

While refinancing your mortgage and acquiring a lower interest rate may sound like instant money savings, it’s important to find a lender that can offer HARP without any closing costs, or at least costs low enough they’ll balance out in your favor. HARP refinancing can certainly be an option worth serious consideration, but if you have lowered interest rates and a high closing cost, it’s possible that you will not be able to re-coup the extra money you’re paying.

HARP refinancing is set to end in 2016, but if you’re a homeowner who is looking to refinance you may want to look into this program for saving money on your mortgage. By familiarizing yourself with the requirements and determining if the closing costs balance out, you may have an easier monthly payment on your hands. If you are paying off your home but are interested in what’s available on the market, you may want to contact your local mortgage professional for more information.

A Guide to Financing Home Improvements and How Mortgage Refinancing Can Help

A Guide to Financing Home Improvements and How Mortgage Refinancing Can HelpIf you’re planning to remodel or renovate your home in the near future – whether to provide a better living environment or as part of a house flip – you’ll need to find a way to pay for your home improvements. There are several different possible sources of renovation money, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. One option that is gaining popularity is mortgage refinancing.

How does mortgage refinancing work, and how does it compare to other renovation financing options? How can you use a mortgage refinance to get the most out of your renovation? Here’s what you need to know.

Home Improvement Investments: Which Renovations Generate The Best Returns?

If you’re considering a mortgage refinance in order to fund your home improvements, you’ll want to concentrate on doing renovations that increase your home’s value. Otherwise, you’ll be taking on more debt without gaining anything in return.

If you want to max out your return on investment, re-finishing your kitchen is your best strategy. Remodeling Magazine’s annual cost-to-value renovation analysis shows that new appliances, a new coat of paint, and new surface finishes in the kitchen generate the biggest returns. Meanwhile, swimming pools and home offices tend to generate the lowest returns because they appeal only to a select group of buyers.

Your Options For Financing Home Improvement Projects

Financing for a home improvement project is a critical consideration. Unless you can afford to pay $20,000 out of pocket for a remodeling project, you’ll need to secure financing of some sort.

Your options for home improvement financing include home equity lines of credit, renovation mortgages, and refinancing. A HELOC may not be an ideal solution, as repayment requires discipline, while a renovation mortgage (or home renovation loan) is typically used only for foreclosures and other properties requiring major renovation work.

Mortgage Refinancing: A Smart Option For Savvy Borrowers

If you’re looking to simply make improvements to your existing home, a mortgage refinance is likely your best option. A straight refinance gives you a lump sum of cash that you can use to pay for renovations upfront.

There’s also a “refinance plus improvements” arrangement, which can provide you with extra capital as you need it. Under this model, you can get up to 80% of your home’s post-renovation appraisal value – however, you’ll only get the money as the renovations are completed and inspected. With a straight refinance, you’re not out of pocket for any length of time.

Making smart home improvements is a great way to boost your home’s value and improve your living conditions. An experienced mortgage professional can help you to find financing for those renovations without a hassle. Contact your local mortgage advisor to learn more.

Refinancing This Winter? Follow These 5 Expert Tips to Get the Most from Your Mortgage

Refinancing This Winter? Follow These 5 Expert Tips to Get the Most from Your MortgageRefinancing a mortgage is a great way to take advantage of historically low interest rates or change your payment terms to be more affordable. And with interest rates at historical lows, there’s never been a better time to refinance your mortgage. If you’re planning to refinance your mortgage this winter, though, you’ll want to make sure you get the best possible deal.

How can you make sure that your mortgage works for you, and not the other way around? Here’s what you need to know.

Know What Your Break-Even Point Is

Your break-even point is the point at which the extra amount you paid out of pocket for the refinance and the amount you saved in a reduced interest rate is equal. In other words, it’s the point at which a refinance actually starts saving you money – and it’s important that you know when that point is. If you pay $5,000 in refinancing fees and your refinance reduces your monthly interest payment by $200, for instance, you’ll break even after two years and one month.

Opt For a Shorter Loan Term, If Possible

Refinancing gives you the ability to turn a long mortgage into a short one. And although a shorter mortgage comes with higher payments, more of your monthly payment is applied to your principal. With a 30-year mortgage, for instance, you’ll be paying mostly interest for the first 16 years – but with a 15-year mortgage, your payments will go mostly toward the loan principal after just five years.

Try To Avoid Prepayment Penalties

A prepayment penalty is an amount of money you pay in order to pay off your mortgage early. If you experience a sudden windfall and can pay off your home in one lump sum, or if you choose to sell your home, you might incur a prepayment penalty. Not all mortgages have these penalties – so talk with your mortgage professional and let them know you are looking for a morgage without a prepayment penalty.

Lock In Your Rate

Mortgage rates are at historical lows right now. One of the biggest reasons why people refinance their homes is to get lower interest rates – which is why, if you’re refinancing your home, you’ll want to choose a fixed rate mortgage. It’ll keep your interest payments low and manageable, so you don’t pay more than you have to.

Know Your Home’s Current Fair Market Value

Housing prices rise and fall over time, which can impact your loan rate when you refinance. Higher-value homes generally get better rates, so make sure you know your home’s fair market value.

Refinancing often means better mortgage terms, so make sure you take full advantage of this opportunity. Call your trusted mortgage professional to learn more.

Refinancing Tips: 5 Questions to Ask Your Lender to Ensure You’ve Done Your Homework

Refinancing Tips: 5 Questions to Ask Your Lender to Ensure You've Done Your HomeworkIf you’re looking to refinance your home, you’re likely going to benefit from lower mortgage payments. But lower mortgage payments aren’t the whole story with a refinance. A refinance plan may change several key terms of your mortgage agreement – which may work for or against you.

Before you refinance, you’ll want to ask your lender these five key questions – it’ll help you ensure you’re getting a deal you can afford.

How Long Does It Take To Close?

Closing a refinance isn’t always straightforward, and in some cases it can take some time before your refinance is approved. For instance, your lender may want to assess your home’s value prior to issuing the refinance. In such a case, you’ll need to have a new home appraisal – which can extend the timeframe for closing.

What Are The Closing Costs?

Even though you’re refinancing, when it comes to closing costs, your lender will treat your refinance like a new mortgage. Oftentimes, closing costs will run between two and five percent of the purchase price, and will include title insurance, lender fees, appraisal fees, origination fees, and more. Before you refinance your home, ask your lender for a full list of your estimated closing costs.

Are There Any Additional Fees On Top Of Closing Costs?

Lenders often vary with respect to what fees they include in closing costs. You might need to pay for a property survey, land transfer tax, or insurance – and sometimes, not all of these fees are included in your closing estimate. You’ll want to ask your lender exactly what is included in closing costs and what additional fees you’ll need to pay.

Can I Prepay Without Penalty?

If you want to pay off your mortgage early, this could very well be the most important question you ask your lender upon refinancing. Some lenders will charge you a penalty fee if you make payments ahead of schedule. If you’re refinancing in order to get a lower interest rate and pay your mortgage off sooner, you’ll want to ensure that prepaying won’t lead you to incur penalties.

Can I Lock In My Rate?

Mortgage rates are low right now, but they’re likely to start going back up next year. So if you want to ensure you get a great deal, you’ll want to try to lock into a low rate now. Ask your lender if you can lock in your refinancing rate – it could save you a great deal of money in the future.

Refinancing your mortgage can seem complicated, but when you ask the right questions, you’ll ensure you get a great deal. Contact your trusted mortgage professional to learn more about refinancing.

Refinance Now or Wait? How to Determine the Best Time to Refinance Your Mortgage

Refinance Now or Wait? How to Determine the Best Time to Refinance Your MortgageRefinancing your mortgage is a great way to reduce your monthly payments or take out some of the equity in your home to reinvest in renovations, upgrades or in other areas in your financial portfolio.

Let’s take a quick look at a few questions that you can ask yourself in order to determine whether you should refinance now or wait until sometime in the future.

Can You Lock In A Lower Interest Rate?

Depending on when you first purchased your home and took out your mortgage, you may find that by refinancing now you can lock in a lower interest rate.

Getting a lower rate can end up saving you thousands of dollars a year in interest, but you’ll need to weigh the closing costs of the refinancing against the savings you’ll obtain to ensure that refinancing is worthwhile.

How Much Do You Owe On The Home?

If you still owe a significant amount on your home you may find that it’s worth refinancing, especially if you’re confident that you won’t be selling the home any time soon. Conversely, if you’re very close to having your mortgage paid off you may find that refinancing has little benefit.

Do You Need To Tap Into Your Home Equity?

If you feel that now is the time to tap into the equity you’ve built up in your home over time in order to cover renovation or upgrade costs you may want to consider refinancing. This will allow you to take out a large chunk of cash without having to open a new loan or line of credit. If possible, try to secure a lower interest rate for added benefit.

Do You Plan On Moving?

If you’re planning on moving in the next couple of years then you may want to hold off on refinancing your mortgage. As mentioned above, there are closing costs attached with a refinancing deal and these must be factored in when assessing whether or not you stand to gain or lose.

If you’re staying in your home for the near future there’s a far better chance that the costs of a refinancing will be covered by the amount that you save.

Every financial situation is unique, and you may find that you have other questions about refinancing that aren’t listed above. Don’t hesitate to contact your mortgage professional as they’ve worked with all sorts of refinancing clients and can share helpful advice that is relevant to your situation.