Home Loan Refinance - a Guide to Getting One

By: Alan Lim

There are certainly many advantages to a home loan refinance. If you have been in your home for awhile, there is a good chance that you have built up quite a bit of equity in your home. Even if it has not been that long since you purchased your home, if you live in an area where prices have appreciated considerably, you could still have a significant amount of equity in your home to tap into for a home improvement, purchase or to use for debt consolidation.

If you are considering a home loan refinance, it is important to know what you should expect. In some ways, getting a home loan refinance is not much different from getting your first mortgage with the exception that you already have the house! You will want to make sure that you look for the best terms and interest rates. In a similar fashion, the lender will want to make sure you are credit worthy before they approve you for the loan.

One of the first questions the lender may ask is why you are interested in refinancing. Be honest with the lender, because this may help him or her to design a home refinance package that perfectly suits your needs. Even if you are planning to consolidate your debts with your home refinance, be sure to mention this when you apply.

Be prepared for the fact that the lender will run a credit check on both you and any co-borrower in order to determine the level of credit risk you present. This is part of the process of becoming pre-approved in the home buying process. The lender will check your credit score and also check your credit report to determine the number of delinquencies you may have, the number of open accounts you have and the balances on those accounts.

The lender will also be interested in your income and various expenses. This is to ensure that you will be able to actually afford the proposed home loan payment. The underwriting guidelines for every lender are different; however, the general rule of thumb is that a prospective buyer should not have a debt to income ratio that is higher than 36%. Additionally, lenders usually prefer for your total housing expenses not to exceed 28% of your income. Of course, there are some exceptions to this rule. In certain circumstances, lenders will approve loans for buyers who have a debt to income ratio up to 40%. You can usually qualify with a higher debt to income ratio if you are able to make a larger down payment and/or if your credit rating is good enough.

To ensure there are no surprises when you sit down with the lender to discuss your home loan refinance, it is a good idea to check your own credit score in advance and be certain there are no mistakes or discrepancies before you submit your home loan application. If you do find any discrepancies, take the time to have them fixed before you apply for a home loan refinance.

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