Is It Time To Refinance? Featured

It doesn’t matter if you’re a homeowner in California, Oregon, or New York State; recently headlines all point to low interest rates, a rising housing market, and possibly a limited time to take advantage of very low rates before a full-blown real estate market recovery puts those rates higher in the future.

An ABC news report titled “Fed Chief Refinanced His Mortgage, Should You?” says it all. That article states, “It was good enough for Ben Bernanke. But what about you? We're talking about refinancing your home, and it's something the chairman of the Federal Reserve did in 2011. According to his latest financial disclosure form, released last week, Bernanke took out a 30-year mortgage with a fixed 4.25 percent rate, replacing one he took out two years earlier with a 5.375 percent rate. Both mortgages were valued at between $500,000 and $1 million...”

What does it take to refinance your home loan? Some borrowers assume they have to be in ideal circumstances to do so, but government efforts like the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Home Affordable Refinance Program, borrowers who are underwater on their mortgages now how the option to get into lower rates and monthly payments if they qualify for HARP or similar plans.

Under the HARP plan, borrowers must have a mortgage guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac--these loans must be dated on or before May 31, 2009. In general the mortgage must not have been refinanced under HARP in the past and the borrower is required to be current monthly mortgage installments. “Current” is defined as no late payment within the last 12 to 24 months depending on the mortgage.

But HARP is not the only option for refinancing. There are conventional refinance loans, FHA refinancing, and VA loan refinance options for eligible veterans and currently serving service members. The government-backed refinance options are available at participating lenders; you may be able to pre-qualify online for a home loan refinance package. If you’re contemplating a refinance loan on your California home, be sure to request a copy of your credit report from the three major credit reporting agencies; Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

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