How To – Refinancing a Home Mortgage Steps and Tips

numbers When considering refinancing your home mortgage, the first step is to get all of the details on what you have now.  Sure, you have vague numbers in your head, but that won’t help you answer all of the loan application questions, or make a real hard-numbers based calculation about the value of refinancing.  What exactly do you need to know before you dive into looking for low interest rates and refinancing your mortgage?

Required Information Before Researching Interest Rates and Refinancing

  • Current Balance of Home’s First Mortgage – Not a ballpark, an exact number according to your last statement.
  • Current Balance of Home’s Second Mortgage or HELOC – Again, the number from the last statement.
  • Current Interest Rate – What are you paying on your mortgage right now?
  • ARM or Adjustable Interest Rate Features – When does your rate go up? (The actual date, not just the year.)  How much can it go up in the first year?  The second year?  Each year after that?  Is there a floor (minimum)?  Is there a ceiling (maximum)?
  • When Did Your Mortgage Start? – What day did you close on?
  • Current Home Value? – Check Zillow and Trulia to get a ballpark.  Print those pages out so you have them for reference.  Keep in mind that these values are based on public information at your county’s records office, so they won’t include any improvements you have made to the house.  Don’t worry about it too much unless it was something major.  This is just for your calculations not for the application yet.
  • Credit Score? – If you don’t know, call your banks first and see if one of them will tell you what it is.  Make sure they tell you the date it is from too.  Many banks and credit unions will get your credit score on a regular basis both to keep your records up to date and to be able to offer you services you might qualify for.  So, a teller or loan officer might just be able to pull it up for you as a courtesy.  If not, put looking into a better bank on your to-do list. You can get an estimate of your credit score at Credit Karma or Credit Sesame.

Ok, now you are ready to get started with some research.  Having this information up front will not only make your research easier but also more accurate.  It is a huge let down to do a bunch of research based on “remembering” that you mortgage balance is $315,000 when it is actually $350,000, only to find out you will have to start over with the real numbers, or worse, just go with the wrong research because you don’t want to start over.

One important thing to remember is the limit for Jumbo mortgages.  Right now, this number is $415,000 in many places, but that number is adjusted based on where you live and the cost of homes there.  For example, this number will be much higher in San Francisco. It is important to know this number for your area because the rules change if you are getting a jumbo mortgage versus a regular mortgage.


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