Hordes of homeowners across the country have decided it’s a great time to shop for a new mortgage, especially one that has lower payments, a lower interest rate or a rate that’s fixed instead of adjustable.
This rush to refinance, which was triggered by historically low interest rates, has swamped lenders and mortgage brokers with fresh loan applications. Here are six tips to make sure your refinance application stays on top of the pile:
1. Be Realistic. Lenders have tightened up loan requirements, so you’ll need a good credit score and at least some equity in your home to refinance. To figure out how much equity you have, subtract the total amount that you owe on all of your existing mortgages from how much you think your home is worth. If your credit is severely impaired or you owe more than the value of your home, you probably won’t be able to refinance right now.
2. Be Patient. Processing all of the paperwork that’s required for a new loan takes time. Be patient while your loan moves through the system. Protect your credit score by paying your bills and making your mortgage payments on time and not taking on any more new debt than you absolutely have to.
3. Be Proactive. Your loan representative should keep in contact with you even if there isn’t any action on your loan. But do your part to keep the lines of communication open as well. If you don’t hear from your loan representative for a few days, pick up the phone and ask for an update. The old adage that the squeaky wheel gets the grease definitely applies in this situation.
4. Be Inquisitive. It’s your responsibility to make sure that you understand the terms of your loan. Ask questions and listen carefully to the answers. Don’t sign your loan documents until you are satisfied with the information and confident that you have made the right decision.
5. Be Prepared. You’ll probably be asked for more information and documentation after you submit your application, but before your loan is approved be prepared to document your income and assets. Answer any questions and fax documentation to your loan representative as soon as possible.
6. Be Ready. After your loan is approved, you’ll need to sign your loan documents and provide a check for any out-of-pocket closing costs. Make sure the funds are available in your account, and be ready to make room in your schedule to read and sign your loan documents as soon as possible.