Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Top 5 Tips to Refinance Your Mortgage

In efforts to improve lending in the struggling U.S. economy, the government has begun to reduce the federal interest rate by buying bonds. This has created a lending environment which is very favorable towards the borrower. Since it has become less expensive to borrow money, lenders can provide great interest rates for home owners to refinance. In addition to taking advantage of the currently low rates, there are a few other things a homeowner can do to reduce their interest rates, reduce cost and fees, and save time overall.

Here are the top 5 ways to reduce your costs and expenses when refinancing: 

Reduce Closing Costs - there are a bevy of "fees and expenses" that can be tacked on when you apply for a mortgage or refinance. Closing costs usually amount to about 2 - 5% of the total cost of your home. These expenses include things like appraisals, title search fees, pest inspections, origination fees, broker fees, etc. In your GFE, or good faith estimate of fees (when you apply for your refinance), brokers or lenders will include an itemized list of these expenses. 

This list will include all the necessary fees as well as extra expense which pay the broker or lender. It is possible to reduce closing costs by negotiating with your mortgage broker or lender. Ask a lender to explain the fees and see if they can "waive" application fees, underwriting fees, and processing fees. Buyers may negotiate with the sellers to absorb some of the closing costs. You can also opt for a no closing cost refinance. Sometimes this type of mortgage does pass the costs and fees into the mortgage at a higher interest rate. 

Refi to get rid of Private Mortgage Insurance - PMI or private mortgage insurance is required if you have lower than 20% equity in your home. PMI can be expensive and can cost in the range of $50 per every $100,000 borrowed. For many homeowners, this amount can mean the difference between buying and renting. If the expense of PMI is too large, a borrower can refinance in order to get rid of it. A lender can get rid of your PMI by re-appraising your home and determining whether or not you have 20% equity in it. If you believe that your home values have improved, and that your equity position is 20% or better, refinancing to get rid of PMI might be a good step to take. 

Improve Credit to get Better Interest Rates - having pristine credit will always improve your access to loans and cheap money. There are ways that you can actively improve your credit score. Ways you can improve your credit include pulling your own report and clearing any mistakes which may be pulling your credit number down. 

Experts estimate that over 30% of credit reports contain inaccurate data that could negatively affect a borrowers ability to get a loan. Since all U.S. citizens get access to 1 free credit report per year at, it is very easy to pull this report and check for any bad data. If you see anything that look inaccurate, you can write a letter disputing the inaccurate information. 

If your report seems up to date and accurate, but your score still needs help you may need to take a more active role to improve your score. In this case, you may consider a "credit builder loan" from a credit union. This type of loan is a small easy to re-pay loan, designed specifically to improve a borrower credit score. It usually takes around 6 months to repay and can improve a borrowers credit a number of points. 

Shop Online For The Best Interest Rates - since the online marketplace for loans is one of the easiest ways to find rates, you can compare multiple lenders fairly easy. There will still be a fairly large difference in rates and expenses from lender to lender. Some lender costs ranges from $100's - $1000 for the fees that compensated to each broker or lender. By searching online, you can quickly determine which lenders are charging the most in fees. You should also contact multiple lenders to let them know you are working with other companies to get the best rates. This will give you some leverage and you may be able to negotiate to get the best rates possible. 

Reduce the Amortization Period (shorten loan term to save) - most mortgages come with a repayment (or amortization period) of 15 to 30 years. The simple fact is that, the longer the amortization period, the more money you will repay in interest. Even though a longer repayment term will come with a lower monthly payment, you will still end up paying more money in the long run. 

By reducing this repayment period, you will end up paying SIGNIFICANTLY less interest on your mortgage. The difference of 5 years on a $200,000 mortgage (at 4%) can amount to as high as $25,000 in total interest payments. You need to decide whether or not a lower monthly payment or less in the total amount of interest payments is better for you.

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