The decision to refinance should be made carefully, with proper advice and counsel. Be sure you are connecting with a loan officer who is qualified to deal with your personal situation no matter how complex, such as a certified Home Loan Advisor™. A mistake here can cost thousands of dollars in losses over time.
A refinance is always a cost/benefit analysis. The conversation may be brief or very involved, depending on your reason for refinancing and the details around your financial situation. There may be better alternatives to the refinance, like borrowing against a 401K, or making changes to a household budget. If your loan officer doesn't show an interest in providing a full service counseling effort, then you may want to call someone else.
Once you have determined that a refinance is a good solution for your needs, you'll want to see if you're qualified by filling out the lender's online loan application.
The online application will allow you to provide your personal information, agree to digital signatures, authorize a credit check, and connect with an online portal for document uploading.
Be proactive about providing loan documentation (paystubs, tax returns, bank statements, etc.) so your lender will be able to underwrite the loan quickly, often before the appraisal has been received. You'll receive updated requests throughout the process. Try to avoid becoming frustrated - underwriters have been saddled with tremendous liability and will be thorough in providing verification required by their investors and the law.
You may decide to lock the rate at the onset of the application or wait to see what the market does. This is your right and you shouldn't take the advice of the loan originator as nobody has any idea what interest rates will do from day to day.
The only charge for refinancing before closing the transaction is for the property appraisal. If you're like most people, you'll have to wait for the appraiser to determine the market value before finalizing the loan terms. Loan to Value (loan/value) ratios have an impact on the underwriting guidelines and cost of the refinance.
Picking a closing date can be done once you've received the appraisal and confirmed your loan terms.
The loan approval will have conditions that need to be cleared before the closing documents can be prepared and sent to the attorney. Sometimes this is an updated pay stub or bank statement, and other times there are more difficult requests.
This signing normally takes about 30 minutes at an attorney's office. Confirm your appointment the day of closing to make sure everything is in order, and ask if there are any additional items that you need to bring in addition to your photo id's.
All refinances for owner-occupied residences come with a 3-day right to cancel. This provides ample time for you to review the documents to make sure you are getting the deal you were promised, and answer any final questions you may have.
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