With rates near historic lows at or below 5%, many of you may be wondering if now is the time to refi your mortgage. My opinion is yes, if your mortgage is less than or equal to 80% of the value of your home and your current rate is above 6%. Simply put, if your house is worth $500,000 and you owe $400,000, you are a good candidate. Don't know what your home is currently worth? Call or email me for a free analysis of your property.
Below are some extremely helpful questions and answers from James Linnane, a senior VP at Wells Fargo Mortgage in Chicago.
How should you approach refinancing?
Number one, make sure you're dealing with a reputable lender. Number two, don't just ask what the rate is; ask what are the rate options and what total closing costs will be. One of the big mistakes some borrowers make is they get enamored with an interest rate, only to find out at the closing table they didn't read the fine print.
What percentage point drop justifies refinancing?
It depends on a number of variables, including how long you're going to be in your residence, what state you are in. I would encourage everybody who has an interest rate of more than a half percent higher than the current market to go down the road of investigating whether it's in their interest to refinance or not. . . . If your interest rate is going to be lower and your payment is lower, it's pretty easy to calculate the break-even point.
Does a "no-cost refinance" really exist?
I don't care what anybody advertises or says. There are upfront costs. If an appraisal costs $300, that is a cost that's going to be incurred in the process of refinancing, whether it's paid by the borrower writing a check for $300 or whether it's embedded in the interest rate.
How does a borrower avoid points?
If my sister came to me and asked me that question, my response would be "Why do you want to avoid paying points?" It may be in your interest to pay points. Basically, points are a way to buy down your interest rate.
Has your sister come to you for loan advice?
Yes. And not only did I advise my sister to pay a point in her example, but I'm in the process of refinancing my own loan and I'm paying points.
When should someone absolutely not refinance?
If you are . . . listing your house for sale.