Refinancing a home to pull out equity or obtain a lower rate can help you reach your financial goals. Unfortunately, things don't always work out as planned, especially when you don't do enough research or preparation. Here are two mistakes many homeowners make that derail their refinancing dreams and how you can avoid them.
Not Checking for a Prepayment Penalty
You would think banks would be happy to have the loans they provide paid off early. When it comes to mortgages, though, banks generally prefer customers keep them for as long as possible because they make their money on the interest generated on the monthly balance. On a $200,000 loan at 4.25 percent, the bank can make up to $154,196 in interest over 30 years. So, you can understand why the bank may want to discourage homeowners from paying the mortgages off early.
To that end, many banks institute a prepayment penalty to help them recoup some of the money they lose when homeowners pay their loans off before the 30 years is up. The prepay penalty may only apply if you refinance the home or may also be charged when you sell the house. The exact amount you're charged varies, but it's usually a percentage of the balance on your loan at the time it's paid off (e.g. 3 percent of $150,000).
The good news is, the prepay penalty is usually only valid for a certain number of years. For instance, you may only be charged the fee if you refinance the home within the first 2 to 5 years of ownership. After that, you'll be able to sell or refinance with no problem.
Check your mortgage paperwork to determine if you will be penalized for paying your home off early and what the rules are. You can still refinance your home even though you have to pay the penalty. However, you need to be sure what you gain outweighs what you'll lose.
Not Checking for Seasoning Requirements
Theoretically, you could refinance your home the day after closing on it. In reality, many banks and loan programs require you to season your mortgage for a number of months before they will approve your application for refinancing. This means you must have had the mortgage and paid on it for a minimum number of months before you'll be eligible to refinance. For instance, to refinance an FHA loan, the FHA requires the mortgage have been active for at least 210 days (about 7 months).
Most lenders require you to have had your loan for at least a year. However, some don't have a seasoning requirement at all. Thus, it's important to shop around and ask about this issue to ensure you get a lender that meets your needs.
For more information about refinancing a home or to discuss interest rates, contact a local mortgage lender like Tennessee Home Mortgage.