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Refinance Guide

Applying to Refinance

Choosing a Lender

Refinancing your mortgage is a big financial decision. Preparing yourself with the right knowledge, proper documents and right lender can make your mortgage refinance go as smoothly as possible.

Here are some questions you should ask when picking a lender to handle your refinance:

  • Will you service my loan after closing, or will you sell my loan to another company? Not every lender services their loans after closing. Quicken Loans services 98% of their loans to make sure you're satisfied from the day you apply to the day your loan is paid off.
  • What's your availability? It's important to have someone on hand to answer your questions – even outside of typical business hours.
  • What are your rates and fees? Rates and fees can vary quite a bit from lender to lender. You can shop around to determine which rates and fees fit your situation best, but keep in mind that the lowest rate doesn't always make for the best mortgage experience.
  • What is your client satisfaction rating? Thirty years is a long time to deal with any company; looking at feedback from other clients can help you determine whether you've found a company you can work with for a long time.
  • Can I complete the process online, or will I have to drive to a branch? The ability to submit documents online can make all the difference if you're short on time. Make sure to pick a lender who makes your mortgage experience as effortless as possible.
  • How much time will the process take? If it's important for you to close fast, you'll need to find a lender who makes your loan a priority.

Documents Your Lender Will Probably Ask For

It's important to prepare your financial documents before applying so you can close your mortgage quickly. Here are some of the things your mortgage lender will probably request:

  • Your two most recent pay stubs
  • Your two most recent W-2s
  • The most recent two months of bank statements

If your spouse or someone else will be on the loan with you, they'll need to provide these documents too so your lender can get the whole picture of your financial situation.

If you're self-employed, you'll have to provide a few more documents to demonstrate your income. Some lenders will ask to see your entire tax return so they can see the exact amount of cash in and cash out.

The Costs of a Refinance

These are some common fees you might have to pay for:

  • Application fee: This fee will be due even if your loan is denied.
  • Appraisal fee: You'll likely have to get an appraisal so your lender has an accurate and updated value for your property. In some cases, such as with a streamline refinance, your lender may be able to waive the appraisal.
  • Inspection fee: Certain inspections may be required based on the type of loan you're getting.
  • Attorney review and closing fee: This fee covers the costs of the lawyer who conducts the closing for the lender.
  • Title search and insurance: A title search is often required to make sure your home has no liens and that you are the rightful owner. You'll also pay for title insurance, a one-time cost that protects you and your lender against any problems with the title that were caused by a previous property owner.

When you apply to refinance, you'll receive a Loan Estimate that provides an estimate of the fees and costs of your loan. Prior to closing, your lender will send you a Closing Disclosure, which details your final numbers and lets you see exactly what you're paying for.

The Length of the Refinance Process

A typical refinance will take anywhere from 30 to 45 days, but there are many variables that can lengthen the process. Any third parties that are involved in the mortgage transaction can create a potential delay. Your lender works with a variety of third parties – such as appraisers, inspectors and title companies – to get your loan closed, so keep in mind that delays may occur as your lender works to get information from these third parties.

Your refinance process could also be longer or shorter depending on how complicated your situation is. Mistakes on your credit report, for instance, can hold up the process. And any financial or other life changes on your part can also lengthen the process. For example, changing jobs or opening new lines of credit while undergoing a refinance could pose problems for your closing date. However, keeping your lender in the loop can help keep the process on track.

Locking Your Rate

Once you've completed your mortgage application, you'll have the option to lock your mortgage rate. Mortgage rates change daily, and locking your rate protects you against the rate going up significantly before you close.

Most lenders allow you to lock your rate for 30, 45 or 60 days, but keep in mind that you may have to pay a fee if you need to extend the timeframe beyond what was originally agreed upon.

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