Top 5 Questions About Refinancing, Answered 
Top 5 Questions About Refinancing, Answered 

By Alena Kairys

Dec 22, 2023

If you’ve been eyeing interest rates and waiting for an opportunity to refinance, your time has come! Refinancing is an excellent way to make your home work for you, and we’re answering the top five questions people have about refinancing. 

  1. How does refinancing work?

Refinancing is when your original loan is replaced with a new loan with different terms. It can be a smart move if you plan to stay in your home for a while; use a refinance mortgage calculator and speak with a lender to know your breakeven point. Many people refinance to lower their monthly payment, but it can also be used to access home equity, remove someone from the mortgage, get rid of private mortgage insurance (PMI), or change your loan type. Work with a loan originator to find out what refinance option is right for your needs.

  • What kinds of refinances are there? 

Much like purchase loans, there’s no one-size-fits-all refinance. There are several types of refinances that can help you achieve your financial goals:  

Rate and term refinance: This is the most common type of refinance because it allows you to lower your monthly payment or shorten the loan’s term. When interest rates drop, it’s a great time to take advantage of a rate and term refi, especially if you bought your home at a higher rate. You can also use this type of refinance to change your loan type (like going from an adjustable-rate to a fixed-rate mortgage) or remove PMI. Be aware that lowering your payment can lead to a longer term and more payments for the life of the loan, while choosing to shorten the repayment period can lead to a higher monthly payment. 

Cash-out refi: A cash-out refinance leverages your existing home equity by replacing your first loan with a higher mortgage and giving you the difference in cash. There’s no limit to how you can use your newfound funds—they can be used to pay off debt, make home repairs, take a vacation, or to pay for tuition. Since a cash-out refinance is riskier, the rates can be slightly higher than other refinance types. Cash-out refinances are also available for VA and FHA loans. You’ve put so much love and labor into your home, and a cash-out refi lets you reap those rewards!

Streamline or Interest Rate Reduction Refinance (IRRRL): A streamline refinance could be a good option for you if you have a  FHA,  USDA, or VA loan. Streamlined refinances and IRRRLs reduce how many items (such as an appraisal or credit check) are needed for eligibility, shortening the process. 

Renovation Loans: The Fannie Mae Homestyle Renovation Loan, FHA 203(k), and VA Renovation are specifically for people who want to make home repairs or upgrades. One benefit of these options is that the renovation costs are rolled into the new loan amount, so there’s only one closing and one interest rate. Instead of using your home’s current value for the loan amount, your lender will use the detailed project proposal submitted by your contractor to determine your home’s “as-completed” appraised value. 

Additionally, some lenders offer incentives that allow you to refinance with little-to-no fees when rates drop, making refinancing even more attractive.

  • When can I refinance my home? 

Depending on the refinance program you choose, there may be a minimum requirement for the number of payments made or length of homeownership, though this is more often the case for loans backed by the federal government. Some conventional loans don’t have a wait time, but cash-out refis usually have a six-month waiting period. Wait times vary depending on your lender, your current mortgage, and your refinance plan. Your current equity is also a major determining factor. For example, 20% in home equity is required for most cash-out transactions. There’s also no limit to how many times you can refinance the same property if you meet eligibility requirements.

  • Are there closing costs? 

Even though you already own your home, you may be surprised to know there can be closing costs when refinancing. Closing costs can be 2-5% of the loan amount, though this can vary. Much like the closing costs associated with buying a home, the fees for a refinance may include an origination fee, recording fee, appraisal fee, and more. Note that some refinances require an additional fee in addition to closing costs: the FHA Streamline refinances come with a mortgage insurance premium (MIP) and an upfront mortgage insurance premium (UFMIP); VA Streamline refinances mandate a funding fee of 0.5% for most cases. 

  • How long does it take to refinance? 

On average, it takes 30 days to refinance a home. The process is similar to buying a home in it involves submitting an application, providing any needed documents, going through a home appraisal in (some instances), getting underwriting approval, and attending closing. Sending correct information to your lending team on time will go a long way in speeding up the process.

No matter your reason for refinancing, it’s important to understand your goals and what’s involved with the process. Working with an experienced lending team will ensure your refi goes smoothly.

If you have any questions about refinancing, contact one of our licensed Mortgage Loan Originators. If you are ready to begin t­­he home buying process, click here to get started!

For informational purposes only. Refinancing an existing loan may result in the total finance charges being higher over the life of the loan. Veterans Affairs loans require a funding fee, which is based on various loan characteristics. LTVs can be as high as 96.5% for FHA loans. FHA minimum FICO score required. Fixed-rate loans only. W2 transcript option not permitted. Minimum required credit score of 620 for conventional loans.

These blogs are for informational purposes only. Make sure you understand the features associated with the loan program you choose, and that it meets your unique financial needs. Subject to Debt-to-Income and Underwriting requirements. This is not a credit decision or a commitment to lend. Eligibility is subject to completion of an application and verification of home ownership, occupancy, title, income, employment, credit, home value, collateral, and underwriting requirements. Not all programs are available in all areas. Offers may vary and are subject to change at any time without notice. Should you have any questions about the information provided, please contact us.