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Concentrated Millennial Guy

How Long Does A Refinance Take? FAQs And Tips To Speed Up The Process

7-Minute Read
Published on November 13, 2023
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A refinance of your home’s mortgage could lead to big savings. With lower interest rates, it’s possible to save thousands over the lifetime of your loan.

The potential savings may entice you, but the paperwork and verification process associated with refinancing your home may seem less attractive. Let’s go over how long it takes to refinance a mortgage, plus some tips to speed up the process.

How Long Does The Refinance Process Take?

The exact timeline for your mortgage refinance will vary based on your unique situation. However, a refinance will typically take 30 – 45 days.

With a refinance, one of the most significant delays can be securing an appraisal. When the demand for refinancing is high, it can be especially challenging to quickly secure an appointment with an appraiser.

You can speed up the refinancing process by promptly providing any necessary documents. That said, there is only so much within your control, so don’t be surprised if the process takes several weeks.

The Mortgage Refinance Process: A Timeline

The goal of the refinance is to take advantage of lower interest rates or better terms through a new mortgage. So, why does the mortgage refinance process typically take several weeks?

Let's take a closer look at the mortgage refinance process to better understand it.

Apply For A Home Loan

When you refinance your existing mortgage, you’ll need to apply for a new home loan. Essentially, the new home loan will replace your current mortgage. That means you’ll need to provide documents and financial information just like you did for your original mortgage. These include:

  • Recent pay stubs
  • W-2 forms for the last few years
  • Recent bank statements
  • Recent mortgage statement
  • Statements for other outstanding loans and lines of credit
  • A breakdown of your homeowners insurance policy
  • Anything else specified by your lender

Lock In The Rate

Once you apply for the home loan, you can choose to lock in your rate. Interest rates can fluctuate on an hourly basis for a variety of reasons. That’s why a rate lock can bring borrowers peace of mind when making big financial decisions.

When you lock in your rate, the lender is agreeing to honor the current interest rate when the loan actually closes.

Get A New Appraisal

When applying for a refinance, the lender may require a refinance appraisal to confirm the value of the house. In the past, appraisals were strictly an in-person affair. Recently, COVID-19 has pushed lenders to experiment with hybrid appraisals that can be conducted entirely online or via a drive-by.

Depending on your lender, you may experience a hybrid appraisal, which could take less time. But a traditional appraisal with an in-person assessment may be required, and that could take more time and delay the rest of the home refinance process.

Order A New Title Search

As with your original mortgage closing, the lender will order a new title search with a title company in your area. The goal of the title search is to ensure that there are no new liens on the property. In general, it should take 1 – 2 weeks to complete a title search.

Beyond that, lenders will require you to pay for a title insurance policy. Title insurance protects the lender from financial loss if there’s an issue or claim against the property in the future.

Close On The Loan

After working through all the steps above, the time will finally come to close on the loan. At this point, homeowners will sign any final documents and pay closing costs.

If you don’t close the loan, then you won’t finalize the refinance. With that, you’ll miss out on any potential savings or benefits that you would have enjoyed through a refinance and end up stuck with your current loan’s interest rate and terms.

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Why Is My Refinance Taking So Long?

You should expect it to take at least a few weeks to close on your refinance. That being said, some refinances can take longer. It all depends on your situation and the circumstances impacting loan applications in your area.

Here’s a closer look at the main reasons why a refinance can take longer than you expect:

Strict Government Regulations

The government has strict rules surrounding the refinancing process, and those regulations may cause friction throughout the process.

If the refinance you’re seeking doesn’t fall within the specifics of the regulations, your refinance could slow down or be impossible to complete.

Low Appraised Value

A critical piece of the refinance process is the new appraisal value. The lender will use the new appraisal value to make decisions about your refinance. If the appraised value is lower than expected, you may not be able to get the loan, delaying the refinance process.

Concerned about your home’s new appraisal coming in lower than you hoped? Consider taking the time to spruce up your exterior with some simple tweaks for curb appeal. Additionally, it doesn’t hurt to tidy up the house before the appraiser comes by. Finally, take the time to walk through your home with the appraiser to emphasize any important features.

Credit Issues

Your credit score helps lenders determine whether to proceed with the refinance process. If you have a bad credit score, then you may not qualify for a better interest rate. Unfortunately, most lenders will need borrowers to have a fair credit score to approve the refinance.

What You Can Do To Speed Up Your Refinance

Want to speed up your home refinance? Here are some helpful tips to help you move forward quickly:

Determine Your Financial Goals

A refinance can help you accomplish different financial goals. With that, it’s important to sit down and determine exactly what you hope to achieve with your new mortgage.

A few reasons to refinance include:

Without understanding why you want to refinance, it can be difficult to move forward confidently.

Prepare Paperwork

Speed up the process of applying for a new mortgage loan by collecting the documents you need ahead of time. A few of the big documents you’ll need include:

  • Your two most recent W-2s
  • Your two most recent pay stubs
  • A recent bank account statement

With these documents ready to go, you’ll make the home loan application process smoother.

Check Your Credit Score And Report

A quick check of your credit score can help you determine whether you’ll qualify for the best interest rates. If you have a relatively low credit score, you may want to delay the application and focus on improving your score. You can do this by:

  • Repaying outstanding debts
  • Not applying for additional loans or credit cards
  • Paying your bills on time
  • Reviewing your credit report often and reporting errors as you find them

Shop Around For The Best Mortgage Deal

You could save yourself thousands by shopping around for a lender that can offer you the best interest rate. It’s a good idea to get quotes from several lenders and review the rates and loan terms they offer you in detail.

You should compare more than mortgage lenders. There are also a number of different refinance programs available to explore – including a conventional mortgage refinance and an FHA Streamline Refinance. Each can help you achieve different financial goals.

Ask For Loan Estimates

Loan estimates can help you understand the expenses that will come along with a particular loan. If possible, ask for loan estimates from two to three of your top lenders.

With the loan estimates in hand, take the time to review the costs of working with each lender. You can make the final decision about a lender when you have all this information available. It’s important that you compare apples-to-apples with the loan type and term when reviewing loan estimates.

Ensure That You Qualify

A refinance is a loan like any other. With that, you’ll have to prove your qualifications to the lender to move forward.

Take an honest look at your finances. If you have a bad credit score or an unstable income, you may not qualify for a refinance. But if you have a good credit score and a significant amount of equity in your home, then a refinance could be smooth sailing for you.

Mortgage Refinance Timeline FAQs

Learn more about how long it takes to get a refinance with the answers to these commonly asked questions:

How fast can I refinance my house?

You can refinance your home loan as soon and as often as you’d like. That said, if you want to refinance with the same lender, you’re likely required to wait 6 months. From the moment you submit your new loan application, you can expect the refinance process to be over in around 30 to 45 days.

How long does it take to approve a refinance?

The length of time it takes to approve a refinance application will depend on the lender and the demand. When mortgage rates are low, approval times tend to take longer. Since the timeline is so reliant on the current state of business, it’s a good idea to apply to multiple lenders and ask them for their current approval timeline.

Does refinancing my mortgage hurt my credit?

Applying for any loan, including a refinance, requires a hard inquiry into your credit history. Hard inquiries do hurt your credit score, which is why it’s important to submit all your loan applications within a 2-week time frame. Credit scoring models will view condensed loan applications into a short period as one hard inquiry rather than multiple.

The Bottom Line

The home refinancing process has multiple steps, so it’s not uncommon for a refinance to take several weeks.

While it takes time, refinancing your home loan may be worth the wait. With the right loan, you can lock in a lower interest rate, lower monthly mortgage payments and more favorable loan terms.

If you’re ready to refinance your home loan, see what you qualify for today.

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Sarah Sharkey

Sarah Sharkey is a personal finance writer who enjoys diving into the details to help readers make savvy financial decisions. She’s covered mortgages, money management, insurance, budgeting, and more. She lives in Florida with her husband and dog. When she's not writing, she's outside exploring the coast. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.