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The Mortgage Refinancing Process: Step One is Comparing Offers

by Gil  Mackey
Mortgage Directory Columnist

Mortgage lenders today are offering more choices than ever to homeowners interested in refinancing their home loan. From adjustable rate mortgages to interest only loans, it's easy to get confused. To make sure you get a mortgage refinance that fits your needs, shop smart!

Smart Refinancing

First, examine why you want to refinance so that your goals are clear. Do you want lower monthly payments? Do you want a lower interest rate? Or are you refinancing to get some cash out of your home? Once you've decided why you want to refinance, you need to shop around and check with four to five mortgage lenders. But before you get started, prepare a list of questions and use a worksheet to compare what each mortgage lender has to offer.

Top Mortgage Refinance Questions

Here is the information you will need to make a mortgage financing decision. Lenders are required to provide this in written disclosures when you make your application with them; however, many don't object to giving it to you up front.
  • What is the Annual Percentage Rate (APR)? Many lenders will talk about the interest rate on your refinance, but you need to ask about the APR. This rate includes the total cost of the home loan expressed as an annual rate.
  • What will my monthly mortgage payment be?
  • Will my interest rate or monthly payments change? If the answer to this question is yes, make sure to ask how often the rate can go up? This is on the Truth-in-Lending (TIL) form and a special ARM "rider" that goes with the other forms.
  • What is the term of the loan?
  • Will I have to pay a penalty if I want to refinance later?
Additionally, when you refinance your home loan you will also have to pay closing costs, so make sure to ask for a good faith estimate (GFE) from each lender. Mortgage lenders are required by law to provide a GFE, which will show the closing costs for your refinance, either when you apply for the home loan or mailed within three business days.

Work with a reputable lender and a loan officer who answers your questions to your satisfaction. Complete your refinance only when you are comfortable and thoroughly understand the terms of your loan.

About the Author
Gil Mackey has been a writer and artist for the past twenty years. In addition to freelance writing, he writes for his local paper, and lives with his two children in Nevada.

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