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Ready to Refinance Your Mortgage? Here Are a Few Tips

Jun 13, 2008
The real estate market in many areas of the country is finally becoming less frothy and settling down. If you bought a home during that turbulent time you may not have gotten the best mortgage rates. Additionally home values have changed. Many areas are facing a down trending in home values meaning that their loan to equity ratio has changed for the worse.

It may be time to refinance that loan. Here are a few tips.

Be realistic as what can be accomplished and what can't. Most mortgage lenders require that the appraised value of the home be at least 20% higher than the mortgage. That gives them a cushion in case values drop. The appraisal is based on what comparable homes in your neighborhood have sold for. That's different than what homes are listed for sale at.

In most areas the selling price of a home and the square footage are public information. It may take a bit of digging to find homes that sold in your neighborhood but it will give you a better basis as to what you can expect. If you have a real estate agent for a friend they can easily provide the information for you.

While the appraisal is based mostly on square footage, an attractive, clean house with well maintained landscaping can't hurt. Get rid of clutter. And be aware of any peculiar odors.

Check your credit scores. Don't be unpleasantly surprised. If there are errors, such as a debt showing up that has been paid, get it cleared up before applying for a new mortgage. There is refinancing available for those with less than stellar credit but it's not at the low rates you might be expecting. You can check your credit scores online but you do have to sign up and provide some personal information. It's not instantaneous. Your identity has to be confirmed before you have access to your reports.

Don't wait until the last minute. Prepare the materials you think you'll need ahead of time. Most mortgage lenders want verification of income through tax returns, or paycheck stubs. They'll also want copies of bank and checking accounts, stocks, bonds, and other assets. If you're considering a major purchase put it off until you've refinanced your mortgage. Don't use your credit card or savings to finance that purchase.

Know what you want. There are so many alternatives from the standard 30 year mortgage. Don't let yourself be talked into terms which may sound good in the short term such as an interest only loan, but may turn out to be trouble in the long term. Refinance at a level that's comfortable for you. You may think that taking out a loan that is as high as possible is the best course of action, but remember you'll have a bigger monthly payment.

Shop around and compare mortgage lenders before you get mortgage quotes. Check the fees they require, time it takes, application procedures, points, and interest rates. It's amazing the variance you can find.
About the Author
Dee Power is the author of several nonfiction books. Want to know more about mortgage quotes? You'll get an idea of mortgage rates Learn more about mortgages and loans
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