What Is a Streamline Refinance?

Mortgage Q&A: “What is a streamline refinance?” While qualifying for a mortgage refinance is generally a lot harder than it has been in the past (now that lenders actually care how your home loan performs), there are less cumbersome options available. In fact, many lenders offer “streamlined” alternatives to existing homeowners to lower costs and [&hellip

The post What Is a Streamline Refinance? first appeared on The Truth About Mortgage.

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4 Signs Refinancing Is The Wrong Move

4 Signs Refinancing Is The Wrong Move – SmartAsset

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Refinancing your mortgage can bring your interest rate down, lower your monthly payments and generally save you some money. With rates still low, you may be pondering whether now’s the right time to try for a better deal on your home loan. But you don’t want to pull the trigger too soon. If any of the following apply to you, you may want to think twice before jumping on the refinancing bandwagon.

Compare refinance mortgage rates. 

1. Your Credit’s Not in Great Shape

Refinancing when you’ve got a few blemishes on your credit report isn’t impossible, but it’s not necessarily going to work in your favor either. Even though lenders have relaxed certain restrictions on borrowing over the last year, qualifying for the best rates on a loan can still be tough if your score is stuck somewhere in the middle range.

If you took out an FHA loan the first time around, you might be able to get around your less-than-spotless credit with a streamline refinance, but approval isn’t guaranteed. Interest rates are expected to rise toward the end of the year, but that still gives you some time to work on improving your score.

Getting rid of debt, limiting the number of new accounts you apply for and paying your bills on time will go a long way toward improving your number so that when you do refinance, you’ll be eligible for the lowest interest rates.

Related Article: The Costs and Benefits of Refinancing

2. You’re Not Sure You’ll Stay in Your Home Long-Term

Refinancing involves replacing your existing mortgage with a new one. The interest rate, payments and loan term may be different but the one thing that remains the same is the fact that you’ll be required to pay closing costs to finalize the deal. Closing costs can run between 2 and 5 percent of the total loan amount, but that varies and is based on the lender you choose. If you’re refinancing a $200,000 mortgage, for example, it’s possible that you’d have to cough up anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000.

Since you’re reducing your payment and interest rate, you’ll hopefully eventually recoup the money you spend on closing costs, but it’s going to take some time. If you end up selling the home and moving before you hit the break-even point, all that money that you put out up front to refinance is basically gone. It could take a few years to break even so if you don’t think you’ll stick around that long, you may be better off keeping your cash and paying your current loan as is.

Learn more about refinance closing costs.

3. A No-Closing Cost Loan Is Your Only Option

If you don’t have a few thousand dollars to spare to cover the closing costs, you can always look into a no-closing cost loan. With this type of refinance, the lender folds the costs into the loan itself so you don’t have to pay anything extra out of pocket. While that’s a plus if you’re short on cash, you may be really putting yourself at a disadvantage in the long run. Increasing your mortgage (even if it’s just by a few thousand dollars) means you’re going to pay more interest over the life of the loan.

For example, let’s say you refinance a $200,000 mortgage at 4 percent for 30 years. Altogether, you’d pay $143,000 in interest if you don’t pay anything extra. Your closing costs come to 3 percent but you roll them into the loan so you’re refinancing about $206,000 instead. That extra $6,000 would cost you another $11,000 in interest so you have to ask yourself whether the monthly savings from refinancing justify the overall added expense.

4. Compare Your Refinance Loan Options

Once you’re ready to refinance, it’s important to take the time to compare what’s available from different lenders carefully. Checking out the rates and fees each lender charges ensures that you won’t spend any more money on a refinance loan than you need to.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/goldyrocks, ©iStock.com/SolisImages, ©iStock.com/DOUGBERRY

Rebecca Lake Rebecca Lake is a retirement, investing and estate planning expert who has been writing about personal finance for a decade. Her expertise in the finance niche also extends to home buying, credit cards, banking and small business. She’s worked directly with several major financial and insurance brands, including Citibank, Discover and AIG and her writing has appeared online at U.S. News and World Report, CreditCards.com and Investopedia. Rebecca is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and she also attended Charleston Southern University as a graduate student. Originally from central Virginia, she now lives on the North Carolina coast along with her two children.
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Mortgage Lending Volume Hits Highest Level on Record Despite COVID-19

Posted on September 9th, 2020

It makes sense that the mortgage industry would see its best quarter in history during a global pandemic.

Okay, it doesn’t make sense, but that’s what happened anyway, per the latest Mortgage Monitor report from Black Knight.

Mortgage Lenders Originated $1.1 Trillion in Home Loans During the Second Quarter

record originations

  • Mortgage lenders experienced best quarter in history during Q2 2020
  • Driven most by refinance loans thanks to record low mortgage rates
  • Refinancing was up 60% from first quarter and 200% from a year earlier
  • Purchase lending was only down 8% from a year earlier despite pandemic

The data analytics firm said about $1.1 trillion (yes, trillion) in first-lien mortgages were originated during the second quarter of 2020, the best three months on record since reporting began in January 2000.

The record numbers were mostly fueled by mortgage refinance transactions, which have surged due to continued record low mortgage rates, helped in part by the COVID-19 pandemic.

They said refinance lending was up more than 60% from the first quarter alone, and more than 200% higher than the same time last year.

Such home loans accounted for almost 70% of all first-lien mortgage originations in terms of dollar value, compared to just 39% in the second quarter of 2019.

Meanwhile, home purchase lending was down about eight percent from a year earlier, which is surprisingly strong given the economic uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus.

Some $351 billion in home purchase loans were originated during the quarter, thanks again to low mortgage rates and improved housing affordability that returned demand to its pre-COVID levels quickly.

We Might Set Another Record in the Third Quarter

purchase rate locks

  • The third quarter of 2020 might be even better than the second
  • Rate lock data reveals that many more home loans are slated to close in Q3
  • And there are still nearly 18 million homeowners ripe for a refinance
  • So there’s plenty of business left despite the already big numbers

Despite those amazing numbers, the record set in the second quarter might be very short-lived.

Based on rate-lock data gathered by Black Knight, the third quarter is looking like it’s going to be even bigger.

The company said locks on home refinance loans are up 20% from the second quarter, assuming these loans close during the third quarter based on a 45-day lock-to-close timeline (how long does it take to close a mortgage).

They also pointed out that there are still nearly 18 million homeowners with sufficient credit scores and at least 20% home equity who could reduce their mortgage rate by at least 0.75% by refinancing.

And purchase locks that are scheduled to close during the third quarter are 23% higher than the seasonal expectation, which could be an indication of making up for lost time during the early days of the pandemic.

The second and third quarter combined purchase locks are more than 6% above their expected seasonal volume based on January’s pre-pandemic baseline.

So in essence, the traditional spring home buying season was merely shifted into the summer months, which is great news for real estate agents and home builders.

Most Homeowners Refinance with a Different Mortgage Lender

servicer retention

  • Customer retention continues to be an issue for mortgage lenders
  • About one in five borrowers use their original mortgage lender when refinancing
  • Despite very marginal differences in interest rates among lenders
  • But given how busy they all are it might not matter right now

Lastly, Black Knight highlighted the awful retention rates in the mortgage industry.

Simply put, most borrowers don’t stick with their old mortgage lender when refinancing the mortgage.

Instead, they go with a new company, as indicated by the fact that just 22% of rate and term refinances and 13% of cash out refinances were retained in loan servicers’ portfolios.

Essentially, less than one in five homeowners went back to their original lender during the second quarter.

Interestingly, the difference in mortgage rate pricing for rate and term refinance borrowers (into GSE mortgages) was only seven basis points lower on average than borrowers who stuck with their original company.

So while pricing is key to drumming up business, it shows lenders could probably retain many of their customers given the very marginal price difference.

Of course, it might be a case of a lender merry-go-round, with lenders simply taking each other’s business over time, as opposed to some lenders losing out.

Nonetheless, identifying those borrowers ripe for a refinance should be a top priority for lenders/servicers if they’re interested in driving more business and growing their portfolios.

Lock in a lower rate.
About the Author: Colin Robertson

Before creating this blog, Colin worked as an account executive for a wholesale mortgage lender in Los Angeles. He has been writing passionately about mortgages for nearly 15 years.

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

3 Refinancing Mistakes That Can Cost You Money

3 Refinancing Mistakes That Can Cost You Money – SmartAsset

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Mortgage rates are currently very low, but you can’t expect them to stay that way forever. If you bought a home within the last five to seven years and you’ve built up equity, you might be thinking about refinancing. A refinance can lower your payments and save you money on interest, but it’s not always the right move. In fact, these three mistakes could end up costing you in the long run.

Mistake #1: Skipping out on Closing Costs

When you refinance your mortgage, you’re basically taking out a new loan to replace the original one. That means you’re going to have to pay closing costs to finalize the paperwork. Closing costs typically run between 2% and 5% of the loan’s value. On a $200,000 loan, you’d be looking at anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000.

Homeowners have an out in the form of a no-closing cost mortgage but there is a catch. To make up for the money they’re losing up front, the lender may charge you a slightly higher interest rate. Over the life of the loan, that can end up making a refinance much more expensive.

Here’s an example to show how the cost breaks down. Let’s say you’ve got a choice between a $200,000 loan at a rate of 4% with closing costs of $6,000 or the same loan amount with no closing costs at a rate of 4.5%. That doesn’t seem like a huge difference but over a 30-year term, going with the second option can have you paying thousands of dollars more in interest.

Mistake #2: Lengthening the Loan Term

If one of your refinancing goals is to lower your payments, stretching out the loan term can lighten your financial burden each month. The only problem is that you’re going to end up paying substantially more in interest over the life of the loan.

If you take out a $200,000 loan at a rate of 4.5%, your payments could come to just over $1,000. After five years, you’d have paid more than $43,000 in interest and knocked almost $20,000 off the principal. Altogether, the loan would cost you over $164,000 in interest.

If you refinance the remaining $182,000 for another 30 year term at 4%, your payments would drop about $245 a month, but you’d end up paying more interest. And compared to the original loan terms, you’d save less than $2,000 when it’s all said and done.

Mistake #3: Refinancing With Less Than 20% Equity

Refinancing can increase your mortgage costs if you haven’t built up sufficient equity in your home. Generally, when you have less than 20% equity value the lender will require you to pay private mortgage insurance premiums. This insurance is a protection for the lender against the possibility of default.

For a conventional mortgage, you can expect to pay a PMI premium between 0.3% and 1.5% of the loan amount. The premiums are tacked directly on to your payment. Even if you’re able to lock in a low interest rate, having that extra money added into the payment is going to eat away at any savings you’re seeing.

The Bottom Line

Refinancing isn’t something you want to jump into without running all the numbers. It’s tempting to focus on just the interest rate, but while doing so, you could overlook some of the less obvious costs.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/ruigsantos, ©iStock.com/hjalmeida, ©iStock.com/cookelma

Rebecca Lake Rebecca Lake is a retirement, investing and estate planning expert who has been writing about personal finance for a decade. Her expertise in the finance niche also extends to home buying, credit cards, banking and small business. She’s worked directly with several major financial and insurance brands, including Citibank, Discover and AIG and her writing has appeared online at U.S. News and World Report, CreditCards.com and Investopedia. Rebecca is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and she also attended Charleston Southern University as a graduate student. Originally from central Virginia, she now lives on the North Carolina coast along with her two children.
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If a Mortgage Lender Reaches Out to You, Reach Out to Other Lenders

Posted on November 9th, 2020

A lot of homeowners are looking to refinance their mortgages at the moment. That’s abundantly clear based on the record volume of refis expected this year, per the MBA.

And while mortgage rates are in record low territory, thus making the decision to refinance an easy one for most, it still pays to shop around.

I think we all have a tendency to care less about prices when something is on sale, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t strive for even better, regardless of how cheap something is.

Look Beyond Your Current Mortgage Lender

  • New technology is making it easier for lenders to improve borrower retention rates
  • This means using the same lender for life even if their interest rates aren’t the lowest
  • But like most things loyalty often doesn’t pay when it comes to a home loan
  • So take the time to shop around and negotiate like you would anything else

Thanks to emerging technology, it has become easier for mortgage lenders, mortgage brokers, and loan officers to improve their customer retention.

This means if and when a past customer looks to refinance their home loan or purchase a new home, they might be notified if they pay for such services.

There are companies that can keep an eye on your data over time to see if you’ve applied for a home loan elsewhere, if your home equity has increased, or if your debt load has gone up.

The same goes for your credit score, which if it’s improved enough, may prompt a call or email from a lender or broker you worked with in the past.

While this in and of itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing (sure, data collection is getting a little aggressive), it’s how you react to the sales pitch if and when it comes your way.

Ultimately, if you receive an inbound call or email regarding a mortgage refinance, HELOC inquiry, or even a referral from a friend or family member, don’t stop there.

They are just one of the many individuals/companies you should contact and consider before finalizing your home loan decision.

What If You Receive a Mortgage Mailer?

  • Consider an inbound solicitation a starting point if you’re considering a refinance
  • Don’t simply call the individual/company back and call it a day because they can offer a low rate
  • There are hundreds of mortgage companies out there and competition is fierce
  • Your mortgage will be paid for decades so every little bit matters if you care about saving money

I get mortgage solicitations all the time – and they’re often from a broker, lender, or loan servicer I worked with in the past.

They’re certainly appealing, don’t me wrong. Who doesn’t want to save potentially hundreds a month for simply redoing their home loan, especially if it’s from a trusted source?

But why stop at that mailer? Why not use that as a stepping stone to reach out to other lenders and get additional pricing and offers, then make your decision?

When we’re talking about something as important as a mortgage, which you pay each month for decades, the price you pay matters.

And even a small difference of say an eighth of a percent can equate to thousands of dollars over the life of the loan term.

As noted, companies are getting smarter every day when it comes to customer retention. Unfortunately, a customer retained is likely to miss out on even bigger savings elsewhere.

Don’t simply take the path of least resistance. Put in the time and you should save money.

This is even more critical for low-credit score borrowers, as a wider range of mortgage rates are quoted for those with lower scores.

But all homeowners can benefit from multiple mortgage quotes, as pointed out in a survey from Freddie Mac.

Those who gather just one additional mortgage quote can save between $966 and $2,086 over the life of the home loan, while those who take the time to get 5+ can save nearly $3,000.

So while your old company may make it easy for you to refi, you might be better served looking someplace else.

Read more: Mortgage Rate Shopping: 10 Tips to Get a Better Deal

Lock in a lower rate.
About the Author: Colin Robertson

Before creating this blog, Colin worked as an account executive for a wholesale mortgage lender in Los Angeles. He has been writing passionately about mortgages for nearly 15 years.

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

3 Must-Do Moves to Prepare for a Mortgage Refinance

3 Must-Do Moves to Prepare for a Mortgage Refinance – SmartAsset

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Mortgage rates are still relatively low. That means that there’s no time like the present to consider refinancing the mortgage loan you have for your home. Shaving at least a point or two off your current rate or converting your 30-year loan to a shorter 15-year term can help you keep more of your money in your pocket and out of the hands of lenders. 

Before you go looking for a refinance loan, it’s a good idea to polish up your application package to make yourself as appealing as possible to lenders. SmartAsset has put together a quick checklist of things you need to do that can up your odds of getting your new home loan approved.

1. Track Down All Your Documents

Refinancing your home usually involves just as much paperwork as your original mortgage loan required. So getting your ducks in a row ahead of time can make the process a bit easier. You’ll likely need proof of income from your pay stubs for the past few pay periods and copies of your tax return for the last two years. If you’re receiving any child support or alimony payments, it’s also a good idea to have receipts or canceled checks on hand to show the sources of that income.

Next, you’ll need to gather up recent statements from your bank and investment accounts as proof of your assets. Lenders often check your account history from the past two years, so it’s best if you hold off on making any big withdrawals or deposits in the months leading up to your refinance application. If you do have any unusual banking activity, be prepared to explain it to the lender with documents to support your claims.

2. Take a Look at Your Credit

Lenders want to see that you’ve got enough income to cover your monthly payments after you refinance, but they’ll also be concerned with your credit score. If it’s been a while since you checked it, there’s no reason to put it off any longer.

There are plenty of ways to check your score without paying anything. You can get free copies of your credit report from each of the three reporting bureaus through AnnualCreditReport.com. Also, a number of credit cards now offer complimentary FICO scores to card members. You can also get a look at your credit score from SmartAsset.

3. Find Out What Your Home Is Worth

Unless you’re applying for an FHA Streamline Refinance, you’ll need to have an accurate estimate of what your home’s value is before applying for a new mortgage loan. The bank must have enough information to decide how much of a loan you’re eligible for. If the appraisal value comes in too low, you may not qualify for a refinance at all. That’s something you want to know before you get too far along in the application process.

Bottom Line

Doing a little homework before you enlist the help of a professional can give you an idea of whether it’s worth it to shell out several hundreds of dollars for an appraisal. From there, you can compare your home’s value to the sale prices of similar homes to determine what ballpark you’re working with.

If you want more help with this decision and others relating to your financial health, you might want to consider hiring a financial advisor. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with top financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/baona, ©iStock.com/Geber86, ©iStock.com/Nuli_k

Rebecca Lake Rebecca Lake is a retirement, investing and estate planning expert who has been writing about personal finance for a decade. Her expertise in the finance niche also extends to home buying, credit cards, banking and small business. She’s worked directly with several major financial and insurance brands, including Citibank, Discover and AIG and her writing has appeared online at U.S. News and World Report, CreditCards.com and Investopedia. Rebecca is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and she also attended Charleston Southern University as a graduate student. Originally from central Virginia, she now lives on the North Carolina coast along with her two children.
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Beware the New Mortgage Fee Fearmongering

You may have heard there’s a “new mortgage fee.” And you might have been told to hurry up and refinance NOW to avoid said fee.

While there is some truth to that, it is by no means a reason to panic, nor is it even applicable to all homeowners.

Additionally, it’s possible it may not save you money to refinance now versus a couple months from today, depending on what direction mortgage rates go.

So before we all get in a tizzy and give in to what some are clearly utilizing as a scare tactic, let’s set the record straight.

What the New Mortgage Fee Is and Is Not

  • A 50-basis point cost known as the Adverse Market Refinance Fee intended to offset COVID-19 related losses
  • It’s not a .50% higher mortgage rate
  • It’s an additional .50% of the loan amount via closing costs
  • Only applies to mortgage refinance loans backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac
  • Home purchase loans are NOT affected by the new fee
  • Nor does it apply to FHA loans, USDA loans, or VA loans

Over the past week, I’ve been bombarded by articles warning of the new mortgage fee – most feature something to the effect of “refinance now” and “act fast!”

But in reality, you might not need to do anything different, nor hurry.

Sure, it’s an amazing time to refinance a mortgage, what with mortgage rates hovering at or record all-time lows. No one can argue that.

Still, it all seemed to come to a screeching halt two weeks ago when Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac surprised us with their Adverse Market Refinance Fee, which is designed to offset $6 billion in COVID-19 related losses.

Why would they do such a thing at a time when the economy (and homeowners) are already suffering due to COVID-19? Well, that’s a different story and not really worth getting into here.

The important thing to know is this new mortgage fee only applies to home loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and only if you’re refinancing an existing mortgage.

It has nothing to do with FHA loans, USDA loans, VA loans, or home purchase loans. Or jumbo loans while we’re at it.

Additionally, they have since exempted Affordable refinance products, including HomeReady and Home Possible, and refinance loans with an original principal amount of less than $125,000.

Some single-close construction-to-permanent loans are also exempt.

In terms of cost, it’s .50% of the loan amount, not a .50% increase in mortgage rate. That could mean another $1,500 in closing costs on a $300,000 loan, which is nothing to sneeze at.

But mortgage rates don’t live in a vacuum, and can change daily, so how much more (or less) you’ll actually pay depends on what transpires between now and the implementation date.

When Does the New Mortgage Fee Go into Effect?

  • Applies to loans purchased or delivered to Fannie and Freddie on or after December 1st, 2020
  • This means you’d want to apply for a refinance 60 or so days before that cutoff
  • Since mortgages are sold and securitized once the loan actually funds
  • But remember there’s more to mortgage pricing than just this new fee

The fee was originally supposed to go into effect for loans purchased or delivered to Fannie and Freddie on or after September 1st, 2020, but after much uproar, they just delayed it to December 1st, 2020.

This doesn’t mean you have until December 1st to apply for a refinance in order to avoid the fee.

Since we’re talking purchase of your loan or delivery of your loan so it can be bundled into a mortgage-backed security, there needs to be a buffer.

We have to account for how long it takes to get a mortgage, plus the post-closing stuff that takes place before delivery or sale.

You’d really want to get your refinance in maybe 60+ days prior to December 1st to be safe, though it’s unclear if mortgage lenders will already start baking in the fee even earlier.

If not, you might be stuck paying an additional .50% of your loan amount, either via out-of-pocket closing costs or a slightly higher mortgage rate.

Assuming you don’t want to pay anything at the closing table, your interest rate might be .125% higher, all else being equal.

So if you qualified for a 30-year fixed mortgage rate of 2.5%, it might be 2.625% instead. On a $300,000 loan, it’s about $20 higher per month.

Sure, nobody wants to pay more, but it shouldn’t be a refinance deal breaker for most folks.

And here’s the other thing – mortgage rates might move lower over the next few months due to, I don’t know, COVID-19, the most contentious presidential election in recent history, a stock market that could collapse at any moment, and so on.

In other words, if mortgage rates drop another .25% or .375% by later this year, it’s possible to come out ahead, even with the new fee.

The counterpoint is not to look a gift horse in the mouth. Either way, don’t panic.

Lock in a lower rate.

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

How Refinancing a Mortgage Can Affect Your Credit

How Refinancing a Mortgage Can Affect Your Credit – SmartAsset

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When you’re interested in reducing your mortgage rate and lowering your monthly mortgage payments, refinancing may solve some of your problems. While you’re going through the process of refinancing, you may forget to consider how it could affect your credit score. Here are a few things you’ll need to take into account before setting out to get a better deal on your home loan.

Your Lender Will Check Your Credit Report

If you apply for a refinance loan, your lender will check your credit score and your credit report. Having a lender review your credit information will trigger a hard inquiry. New credit inquiries show up on your credit report and account for 10% of your FICO credit score. Each new inquiry for credit can knock a few points off your credit score.

Generally, if you’re rate shopping within a small window of time (14 to 45 days), multiple loan applications will show up as a single inquiry on your credit report. On the other hand, if you spend several months applying for different refinance loans multiple inquiries will appear on your credit report. Your credit score may drop significantly, meaning that it’ll be harder to qualify for a loan or lock in the best rates.

Tapping Your Home Equity Could Negatively Affect Your Score

If you’ve built up equity in your home, you might want to tap into it to complete some much-needed repairs or tackle a large-scale renovation. But by getting a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit, you’ll be increasing your debt load.

Thirty percent of your FICO credit score depends on how much debt you owe. If you take on more debt, you’ll increase your credit utilization ratio. Having a high debt-to-credit ratio can hurt your credit score and make you look like a risky borrower.

Closing out Your Old Mortgage Loan Could Work Against You

When you refinance a mortgage, you’re essentially paying off your existing home loan with a new one. When it comes to your credit score, the age of your credit accounts matters. In fact, 15% of your FICO credit score is based on the length of your credit history.

Having a long credit history can help you since it’ll give lenders a better idea of how you manage debt. As a result, closing out a mortgage that you’ve had for years could hurt your credit score, particularly if you’re taking out a new home loan at the same time.

Paying Either Mortgage Loan Late Could Spell Disaster

Refinancing a mortgage takes time. And until you’ve signed off on your new loan, you’ll still have to keep up with the payments on your existing loan. Making a late mortgage payment can damage your credit score. In the worst-case scenario, your lender could cancel your refinance loan if a late payment causes your credit score to fall.

If your lender approves your application for a refinance loan, you’ll need to know when your first payment is due. Depending on when your loan closed, you may be able to “skip” a month or two before making your first payment. Generally, mortgage payments are due on the first day of every month. Your lender may offer a grace period but you’ll need to confirm that.

The Bottom Line

Refinancing can save you money if you can reduce your mortgage rate. But it’s important to consider how a refinance might impact your credit. Checking your credit report before and after you refinance is a smart move if you don’t want to be caught off guard by any surprises.

If you want more help with this decision and others relating to your financial health, you might want to consider hiring a financial advisor. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with top financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Squaredpixels, ©iStock.com/kali9, ©iStock.com/elenaleonova

Rebecca Lake Rebecca Lake is a retirement, investing and estate planning expert who has been writing about personal finance for a decade. Her expertise in the finance niche also extends to home buying, credit cards, banking and small business. She’s worked directly with several major financial and insurance brands, including Citibank, Discover and AIG and her writing has appeared online at U.S. News and World Report, CreditCards.com and Investopedia. Rebecca is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and she also attended Charleston Southern University as a graduate student. Originally from central Virginia, she now lives on the North Carolina coast along with her two children.
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Watch Out for Low Mortgage Rates You Have to Pay For

Posted on November 4th, 2020

Mortgage rates keep on marching lower and lower, with new records broken seemingly every week.

But with all the fervor surrounding mortgage rates, some lenders are playing the “how low can we appear to go” game.

For example, mortgage lenders may be talking about their lowest rates (with multiple points required), as opposed to offering their par rates, the latter coming at no extra cost to the consumer.

So instead of being presented with a mortgage rate of say 2.75% on a 30-year fixed, you may see a rate as low as 1.99%. Or even a 15-year fixed at 1.75%!

Here’s the problem; with mortgage rates breaking record lows time and time again, 10+ times so far in 2020, many homeowners are finding the need to refinance the mortgage twice. Or even three times.

And those who chose to pay points at closing, only to refinance within months or a year, essentially left money on the table.

Or they decide not to refinance to an even lower rate, knowing they’ll lose that upfront cost that’s already been paid, which is also a tough situation.

Mortgage Rates Aren’t as Low as They Appear

  • In order to advertise lower mortgage rates lower than the competition
  • Lenders will often tack on discount points to their publicized rates
  • Meaning you’ll have to pay a certain amount upfront to obtain the low rate in question
  • Make sure you’re actually comparing apples to apple when mortgage rate shopping

Guess what? That absurdly low mortgage rate you saw advertised isn’t really as low as it seems.

Typically, when you see a rate that’s beating the pants off the national average, and all other lenders, mortgage points must be paid.

And when the rate is really, really low, it usually means multiple mortgage points must be paid.

In other words, you wind up paying a substantial amount of money, known as prepaid interest, to secure an ultra low, below-market interest rate.

Assuming your loan amount is $200,000, two points to obtain a rate of 1.99% on a 30-year fixed would set you back $4,000.

If the loan amount were $400,000, we’re talking $8,000 upfront to secure that super awesome low rate.

Tip: Watch out for lenders and mortgage brokers who quote you a low mortgage rate, but neglect to tell you that you must pay a point (or two) upfront to obtain it.

Often, this tactic is employed to snag your business, and once you’re committed, the truth comes out, which is why mortgage APR is so important.

Is Paying for an Even Lower Mortgage Rate Right Now the Smart Move?

  • When mortgage rates are already really low (record lows at the moment)
  • It becomes somewhat less attractive to pay points at closing
  • It could be pretty expensive to get just a slightly lower rate that will save you very little
  • And your money might be better served elsewhere, especially if inflation worsens

Here’s the thing. Mortgage rates are already so low that paying mortgage discount points to go even lower isn’t all that attractive.

There’s a great chance mortgage rates will surge higher in the future as inflation finally rears its ugly head. And at that point, you’ll already have an insanely low interest rate.

On top of that, you’ll be able to invest your liquid assets in other high-yielding accounts, likely something pretty darn safe with a rate of return that will beat your low mortgage rate.

So why keep going lower and lower if you’re already paying next to nothing on your home loan?

Additionally, you won’t want to spread yourself too thin, especially if you’re buying a new house.

There are a ton of costs associated with a new home purchase, so committing all your liquidity to an even lower rate could mean that you won’t have money for relocation costs, furnishings, necessary repairs, or an upgrade.

And as mentioned, mortgage rates do have the potential to move even lower than current levels, meaning it could make sense to refinance again, favoring those who didn’t pay much to anything at closing.

Or better yet, just went with a no cost refinance to avoid paying anything to the bank or lender.

As always, do the math to see what makes sense for you. If you’re super serious about paying off your mortgage early, then buying down your rate could be the right move.

It will certainly vary based on your unique financial situation, the loan amount, the cost to buy down the rate, and how long you plan to stay with the loan/home.

Certainly take the time to compare mortgage rates with and without points, but don’t just chase a low rate below an emotional threshold, like 2%.

And determine how long it’ll take to pay back any points at closing with regular monthly mortgage payments.

Personally, locking in a 30-year fixed rate below 3% seems like a tremendous bargain.

Investing the money elsewhere, such as in stocks or bonds or wherever else, could end up being a lot more rewarding than paying prepaid interest at closing.

Perhaps more importantly, you’ll have access to that money if and when necessary for more pressing matters.

Lastly, you can always pay extra each month if and when you choose to reduce your principal balance and total interest paid. So that’s always an option regardless of the rate you wind up with.

Read more: Are mortgage points worth the cost?

Lock in a lower rate.

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

Should You Refinance Your FHA Loan to a Regular Loan?

Should You Refinance Your FHA Loan to a Regular Loan? – SmartAsset

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Mortgage refinance rates are steadily creeping upward, so if you’ve been toying with the idea of a refinance, it might be best to do it sooner rather than later. If you’ve got an FHA loan, you can go with a streamline refinance or transition to a conventional mortgage. Going with a conventional loan has some advantages, but it’s a good idea to weigh all the pros and cons before making a move.

FHA Loans vs. Conventional Loans

First-time buyers often prefer FHA loans because the down payment requirements aren’t as stringent. But the Federal Housing Administration usually requires borrowers to pay a one-time upfront mortgage insurance premium (MIP) that’s 1.75% of the loan’s value. You would also be responsible for paying an annual premium that’s built into loan payments.

When you swap out your FHA loan for a conventional loan, you probably won’t have to worry about paying for mortgage insurance at all if the equity value you’ve built up in your home is above 20%. The end result could be a lower monthly payment and big savings.  And if you could keep that money in your pocket each year, you could put it toward other debts, build an emergency fund or save for retirement.

What Are the Drawbacks of a Conventional Loan Refinance?

On the other hand, there are some costly disadvantages associated with refinancing an FHA loan to a traditional mortgage. The biggest upfront expense comes in the form of closing costs, which can be anywhere from 2% to 5% of the loan’s value. If you’re refinancing a $200,000 loan with closing costs of 3%, you’d have to bring $6,000 in cold hard cash to the closing table.

If you haven’t built up enough equity in the home, you’ll probably get stuck paying for private mortgage insurance (PMI) when you refinance. The combined costs of closing and PMI can zero out any savings in interest if you’re not getting a huge discount on the rate.

When an FHA Streamline Refinance Makes More Sense

The FHA Streamline Refinance program offers a refinance option for borrowers who want to save a little money on their mortgages. If you’ve kept up with your monthly payments for at least a year, you can apply for one without having your income, employment or credit verified.

If you’re trying to lower the cost of your mortgage payments but your credit isn’t in great shape, an FHA streamline refinance can do that for you without a lot of extra paperwork. You will, however, still have to make annual MIP payments, so it’s somewhat of a trade-off.

Shop Around for the Best Deal

When you’re not sure whether a conventional or FHA refinance is best, taking a look at what lenders are offering might help. By weighing the costs of the mortgages and adding in closing costs, you can figure out which option will save you the most money.

If you want more help with this decision and others relating to your financial health, you might want to consider hiring a financial advisor. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with top financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/USGirl, ©iStock.com/blackred, ©iStock.com/vgajic

Rebecca Lake Rebecca Lake is a retirement, investing and estate planning expert who has been writing about personal finance for a decade. Her expertise in the finance niche also extends to home buying, credit cards, banking and small business. She’s worked directly with several major financial and insurance brands, including Citibank, Discover and AIG and her writing has appeared online at U.S. News and World Report, CreditCards.com and Investopedia. Rebecca is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and she also attended Charleston Southern University as a graduate student. Originally from central Virginia, she now lives on the North Carolina coast along with her two children.
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