AOH :: REFINANC.TXT|
Refinancing Your Home
Facts for Consumers from the Federal Trade Commission
Refinancing Your Home -- September 1993
Should you refinance your home mortgage? That's a question many
homeowners are asking, given the lower mortgage rates that are
But, how do you decide if refinancing makes sense in your
particular case? The answer depends on many factors, including
your tax bracket, the length of time you plan to stay in your
home, and the additional costs and charges you must pay for the
What follows is information to help you decide whether to
refinance your home mortgage and how to go about doing it. You
may want to refer to the charts on pages 9 and 10 to see how much
money you might save if you refinanced your mortgage. (We
apologize that the charts are not available on-line. To obtain a
copy of the charts, please request a free copy of the brochure by
contacting: Public Reference, Federal Trade Commission,
Washington, D.C. 20580; (202) 326-2222. TDD call (202) 326-2502.)
How Much Will It Cost To Refinance Your Mortgage?
When you refinance your mortgage, you usually pay off your
original mortgage and sign a new loan. With a new loan, you again
pay most of the same costs you paid to get your original
mortgage. These can include settlement costs, discount points,
and other fees. You also may be charged a penalty for paying off
your original loan early, although some states prohibit this.
The total expense for refinancing a mortgage depends on the
interest rate, number of points, and other costs required to
obtain a loan. To obtain the lowest rate offered by the lender,
most lenders will charge several points, and the total cost can
run between three and six percent of the total amount you borrow.
So, for example, on a $100,000 mortgage, the lender might charge
you between $3,000 and $6,000. However, some lenders may offer
zero points at a higher interest rate, which may significantly
reduce your initial costs, although your payments may be somewhat
Is The Interest Rate Low Enough To Save You Money?
Talk to some lenders to determine the available rates and the
costs associated with refinancing. These costs include
appraisals, attorney's fees, and points. Then determine what your
new payment would be if you refinanced. You can estimate how long
it will take to recover the costs of refinancing by dividing your
closing costs by the difference between your new and old payments
(your monthly savings). However, the ultimate amount you may save
depends on many factors, including your total refinancing costs,
whether you sell your home in the near future, and the effects of
refinancing on your taxes.
The old rule of thumb used to be that you shouldn't refinance
unless the new interest rate is at least two percentage points
lower. However, many lenders are now offering zero point loans
and low-cost refinancing. Therefore, even if your rate change is
less than one percentage point, you may be able to save some
money by refinancing.
How Many "Points" Must You Pay To The Lender To Obtain The Loan?
In refinancing, lenders usually offer a range of interest rates
at different amounts of points. A point equals one percent of the
loan amount. For example, three points on a $100,000 mortgage
loan would add $3,000 to the refinancing charges.
Shopping for points as well as interest rates may save you money.
As a rule of thumb, each point adds about one-eighth to
one-quarter of one percent to the interest rate the lender is
Generally, the lower the interest rate on the loan, the more
points the lending institution will charge. Some lenders offer
refinancing with no points, but generally charge higher interest
To decide what combination of rate and points is best for you,
balance the amount you can pay up front with the amount you can
pay monthly. The less time that you keep the loan, the more
expensive points become. If you plan to stay in your house for a
long time, then it may be worthwhile to pay additional points to
obtain a lower interest rate.
Some lenders may offer to finance the points so that you do not
have to pay them up front. This means that the points will be
added to your loan balance, and you will pay a finance charge on
them. Although this may enable you to get the financing, it also
will increase the amount of your monthly payments.
What Other Settlement Costs Will The Lender Require You To Pay At
Settlement costs typically include fees for the loan application,
title search, appraisal, loan origination, credit check, and
lawyer's services. You also may be required to pay recordation
fees or transfer taxes. If you are shopping for a lender, ask
each one for a list of charges and costs you must pay at closing.
Some lenders may require that some of these costs be paid at the
time of application.
How Would Refinancing Affect The Taxes You Owe?
With a lower interest rate on your home loan, you will have less
interest to deduct on your income tax return. That, of course,
may increase your tax payments and decrease the total savings you
might obtain from a new, lower-interest mortgage.
You should be aware of an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) ruling
with respect to points paid solely for refinancing your home
mortgage. IRS regulations require that interest (points) paid up
front for refinancing must be deducted over the life of the loan
not in the year you refinance unless the loan is for home
improvements. This means that if you paid a certain number of
points, you would have to spread the tax deduction for those
points over the life of the loan. If, however, the refinancing is
for home improvements or a portion of the loan is for this
purpose you may be able to deduct the points or a portion of the
points under certain circumstances. Check with the IRS regarding
the current rulings on refinancing, particularly if you are using
the new loan to make home improvements.
Should You Also Consider A Different Type Of Mortgage?
If you are thinking about refinancing your mortgage, you might
want to consider other types of mortgages. For example, you might
want to look into a 15-year, fixed-rate mortgage. In this plan,
your mortgage payments are somewhat higher than a longer-term
loan, but you pay substantially less interest over the life of
the loan and build equity more quickly. (Of course, this also
means you have less interest to deduct on your income tax
You also might want to consider refinancing if you have an
adjustable rate mortgage with high or no limits on interest rate
increases. You might want to switch to a fixed-rate mortgage or
to an adjustable rate mortgage that limits changes in the rate at
each adjustment date as well as over the life of the loan.
If you decide to apply for refinancing with a particular lender,
and if you do not want to let the interest rate "float" until
closing, get a written statement guaranteeing the interest rate
and the number of discount points that you will pay at closing.
This binding commitment or "lock-in" ensures that the lender will
not raise these costs even if rates increase before you settle on
the new loan. You also may consider requesting an agreement where
the interest rate can decrease but not increase before closing.
If you cannot get the lender to put this information in writing,
you may wish to choose one who will.
Most lenders place a limit on the length of time (say, 60 days)
they will guarantee the interest rate. You must sign the loan
during that time or lose the benefit of that particular rate.
Because many people are refinancing their mortgages, there may be
a delay in processing the papers. Therefore, you may want to
contact your loan officer periodically to check on the progress
of your loan approval and to see if additional information is
What Do You Look For When Shopping For A Home Mortgage?
If you decide to refinance your mortgage, shopping around by
calling several lending institutions to ask each one what
interest and fees they charge will help you get the best deal
available. Also ask each about their "annual percentage rate"
(APR) and compare them. The APR will tell you the total credit
costs of the refinancing, including interest, points, and other
Remember, you do not have to refinance your mortgage with the
same lender that provided your original mortgage. However, to
keep your business, some lenders will offer their original
mortgage customers the incentive of lower mortgage interest
rates, sometimes with reduced closing costs.
What Disclosure Must The Lender Give You?
For a refinancing, the lender must give you a written statement
of the costs and terms of the financing before you become legally
obligated for the loan, as required by the Truth in Lending Act.
You usually will receive the information around the time of
settlement, although some lenders provide it earlier. You will
want to review this statement carefully before you sign the loan.
The disclosure tells you the APR, finance charge, amount
financed, payment schedule, and other important credit terms. If
you refinance with a different lender, or if you borrow beyond
your unpaid balance with your current lender, you also must be
given the right to rescind the loan. In these loans, you have the
right to rescind or cancel the transaction within three business
days following settlement, receipt of your Truth in Lending
disclosures, or receipt of your cancellation notice, whichever
Will The Lender Refund Your Application Fees If You Do Not Sign
When you apply for a mortgage, some lenders require you to pay a
special charge to cover the costs of processing your application.
The amount of this fee varies, but it may be $100 to $200.
Usually, you must pay this charge at the time you file the
Some lenders do not refund this application fee if you are not
approved for the loan or if you decide not to take it. So, before
you apply for a mortgage, ask lenders whether they charge an
application fee. If they do, find out how much it is and under
what circumstances and to what extent it is refundable. However,
if you elect to cancel the transaction within three business days
after you close the loan, as discussed above, you are entitled to
a refund of all costs and charges imposed for the credit
Where Can You Go For More Information?
If you have further questions about refinancing or problems with
financing companies, you may write to: Correspondence Branch,
Federal Trade Commission, Washington, D.C. 20580. While the FTC
cannot resolve individual disputes, it can act when it sees a
pattern of possible law violations.
For a free copy of Best Sellers, a listing of all the FTC's
consumer publications, write to: Public Reference, Federal Trade
Commission, Washington, D.C. 20580.
8/86; 5/87; 1/92
The entire AOH site is optimized to look best in Firefox® 3 on a widescreen monitor (1440x900 or better).
Site design & layout copyright © 1986- AOH
We do not send spam. If you have received spam bearing an artofhacking.com email address, please forward it with full headers to email@example.com.