How Much Does it Cost to Refinance a Mortgage?

How Much Does It Cost to Refinance a Mortgage?

Expect to pay 2% to 5% of the new mortgage amount in closing costs when you refinance your mortgage.

If you have sufficient equity in your home and you’re tempted by a rate-and-term refinance or cash-out refi, here’s what you need to know.

What Is the Average Cost to Refinance a Mortgage?

Refinancing isn’t free because you’re taking out a new home loan and paying off your current one, and doing so brings on a host of costs, though not as many as purchase loans incur.

The main difference between average closing costs for refinances vs. home purchases is that owner’s title insurance and several inspection fees common for purchases are not typically required for refinances, according to ClosingCorp, a provider of residential real estate closing cost data and technology.

Closing costs to refinance single-family home loans averaged $2,375 in 2021, excluding any type of recordation tax or other specialty tax, according to ClosingCorp.

That is less than 1% of the average refinance loan amount of nearly $305,000 at that time, even though a general rule of thumb is that a refinance usually costs 2% to 5% of the loan amount.

Common Mortgage Refinance Fees

Some fees to refinance are flat fees that vary by lender. Other fees are based on a percentage of the loan amount.

Then there are recurring closing costs like homeowners insurance and property taxes. Six months of property taxes are usually due at closing.

Here are common fixed closing costs, though in some cases, a borrower may not need an appraisal.

Typical Fixed Refinance Closing Costs
Fee Average cost
Loan application $75 to $300
Credit report $10 to $100 per borrower
Home appraisal $300 to $700
Document prep $50 to $600
Lender’s title search and insurance $400 to $900

And here are common percentage-based closing costs. Not all borrowers will need mortgage insurance (PMI or MIP: private mortgage insurance for conventional loans, and mortgage insurance premium for FHA loans).

PMI is usually needed for a conventional loan exceeding an 80% loan-to-value ratio.

An FHA loan can be refinanced to another FHA loan or to a conventional loan if the borrower meets credit score and debt-to-income requirements for a nongovernment loan.

USDA and VA loans can also be refinanced.

Typical Percentage-Based Refinance Closing Costs
Refi cost Average amount
Loan origination fee 0% to 1.5% of loan amount
Mortgage points 1% of the mortgage amount per point
Mortgage insurance Varies by type of loan

Are You Eligible to Refinance?

Most mortgage lenders want a homeowner to have at least 20% equity in the house in order to refinance, although those numbers are not universal.

What is home equity? Here’s an example. If your home is worth $350,000 and the current mortgage balance is $250,000, you have $100,000 in equity. The loan-to-value ratio is 71% ($250,000 / $350,000). This scenario fits the parameters of many lenders for a refinance to take place.

You’ll typically need a minimum FICO® credit score of 620 to refinance a conventional loan and 580 to refinance an FHA loan. A score of 740 or above often ushers in the best rates.

Besides credit score, lenders normally review recent credit applications, on-time payments, and credit utilization.

Check to see if your current mortgage has a prepayment penalty. These days they’re fairly rare.

Recommended: 7 Signs It’s Time for a Mortgage Refinance

Benefits of Refinancing a Mortgage

The most common type of refi is a rate-and-term refinance, when you take out a new loan with a new interest rate or loan term (or both). Some people will choose a mortgage term of less than 30 years when they refi, if they can manage the new monthly payment.

Then there’s cash-out refinancing, which provides a lump sum to the homeowner.

In general, refinancing may make sense if interest rates fall below your current mortgage rate. Here are some times when a mortgage refinance could be beneficial.

If You Can Break Even Within a Suitable Time Frame

Calculate how long it would take to recoup the closing costs. Find the break-even point by dividing the closing costs by the monthly savings from your new payment.

Let’s say refinancing causes a payment to decrease by $100 a month. If closing costs will be $2,500, it would take 25 months to recoup the costs and start to see savings.

If you plan to sell the house in two years, refinancing may not be the right strategy. If you intend to stay long term, it may be an idea to explore.

If You Can Reduce Your Rate Even a Smidge

You might read or hear that refinancing is worth it if you can reduce your mortgage rate by 1% or 2%. But for a big mortgage, a change of just a quarter of a percentage point, or half of one, could result in significant savings, especially if you can minimize lender fees.

Again, consider the break-even point and how long you plan to keep the home.

You’d Like to Tap Home Equity

With a cash-out refinance, a percentage of your equity can be issued in a lump sum for any purpose. You will need to have at least 20% equity remaining after the transaction.

Be aware that the higher loan amount of a cash-out refinance usually results in higher closing costs.

(If your main goal is to access cash and not to change your rate or term, a home equity loan or line of credit may be less expensive than paying the closing costs on a cash-out refinance. With a home equity product, how much home equity can you tap? Often 85%.)

An ARM’s Teaser Rate Is Appealing

Refinancing a fixed-rate mortgage to an adjustable-rate mortgage could make sense for a homeowner who plans to move before the initial rate adjustment.

A 5/1 ARM, for example, will come with a rate for five years that is lower than that of most fixed-rate mortgages.

In other rate environments, it could make sense to refinance an ARM to a fixed-rate mortgage.

You Want to Reduce Your Repayment Term

Some people may decide to enjoy a lower rate and shorten their mortgage term, say from 30 years to 15. Monthly payments may well go up, but a lower rate and a shorter term mean paying much less over the life of a loan.

The amortization chart of this mortgage calculator shows how much interest may be saved.

You’d Like to Get Rid of FHA Mortgage Insurance

FHA loans come with MIP that costs the typical borrower $850 per year for every $100,000 borrowed. Unless you put down more than 10%, you must pay those premiums for the life of the loan. The only way to get rid of the MIP is to get a new mortgage that isn’t backed by the FHA.

Tips to Lower the Cost of a Mortgage Refinance

When preparing to refinance, the most important action is to shop around.

Comparison Shop and Try to Negotiate

You need not apply for a refinance with just your current lender — and doing so would be a missed opportunity, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau notes. Then again, your current lender may offer loyalty incentives.

Apply with as many lenders as you wish; you’ll receive a loan estimate from each. Compare the costs, including those of the lender’s preferred vendors.

Ask potential lenders which fees can be discounted or waived. Remember, each lender wants your business.

Typical non-negotiable closing costs found under Section B of each loan estimate include credit reports and appraisals.

Keep Your Credit Shipshape

Having at least a “good” credit score can help you get a more attractive rate, and if your credit score has improved since the initial mortgage was taken out, that could be a reason to refinance all by itself.

A good FICO score on the credit rating scale of 300 to 850 falls in the range of 670 to 739. VantageScore®, a competitor developed by Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, considers a score between 661 and 780 good.

If your credit profile could use some polishing, consider ways to build credit over time.

Use the Same Title Insurance Company

Save money on the lender’s title insurance policy by asking for a reissue rate from the title insurance company that was used for the original loan.

Consider a Streamline Refi for Government Loans

If you have an FHA, USDA, or VA loan, you may want to see if you’re eligible for an FHA Streamline, USDA Streamlined Assist, or VA interest rate reduction refinance loan. The programs charge a lower mortgage insurance fee than regular government refinance programs and do not require an appraisal.

Think About a ‘No Closing Cost Refi’

A no closing cost refinance allows borrowers to roll the closing costs into the mortgage or accept a slightly higher interest rate on the new loan.

Rolling the closing costs into the refinance loan will increase the principal and total interest paid. But if you’re going to keep the loan for more than a few years, this move could be worth it.

Accepting a slightly higher rate could work for borrowers who can skip the upfront payment and who plan to keep their new loan for only a few years.

Recommended: Guide to Buying, Selling, and Updating Your Home

Mortgage Refinancing With SoFi

No matter your reasons for refinancing your mortgage, SoFi may be able to help. SoFi offers competitive rates on a traditional mortgage refinance or cash-out refinance.


Is refinancing your mortgage free?

No. A whole new loan must be approved and processed.

Is refinancing a mortgage worth the closing costs?

It might be. You’ll want to calculate your break-even point: Divide your closing costs by whatever your monthly savings will be to find the number of months it will take you to break even. Beyond that point, the refinancing benefits kick in.

Is it worth refinancing to save $100 a month?

Refinancing to save $100 a month could be worth it if you plan to keep your home long enough to cover the closing costs. Divide your closing costs by 100 to calculate how many months it will take you to break even.

Will refinancing cost me more in the long run?

If you get a new 30-year mortgage several years into your original 30-year loan, you are, in essence, lengthening the term of your loan, and that can cost you. It makes more sense to shorten the term to 20 or 15 years.

Is it cheaper to refinance with the same bank?

Your lender might offer a slightly lower rate, but it’s a good idea to still see what competitors are offering by comparing loan estimates.

Can you negotiate closing costs when refinancing?

Yes. Many lender fees and third-party vendor fees are negotiable. On each loan estimate, Section A lists the lender charges. Try to negotiate the lowest total lender charge, keeping the rate in mind. And third-party fees in Section C are negotiable.

SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See for more information.

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see Equal Housing Lender.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.


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What Is Mortgage Underwriting?

Underwriters are a bit like jurors: They soberly weigh the evidence and render a verdict. Unlike jurors, underwriters sometimes reach out to those they are, well, judging to add information, clarify a matter, or otherwise help the case for mortgage approval.

If it’s a “yes” to the address, underwriting has found that you’re fiscally fit enough to take on a mortgage and that it’s a manageable size.

By learning about underwriting, you’ll be prepared for the document-gathering and hurdles ahead.

What Does an Underwriter Do?

Underwriters protect a bank, credit union, or mortgage company by making sure that they only give loan approval to aspiring homeowners who have a good chance of paying the lender back.

Here are some of their tasks:

•   Verify documents and financial information and make sure that enough savings exist to supplement income or contribute toward the down payment.

•   Check an applicant’s credit score and history and note any bankruptcies, late payments, a lot of debt, or other red flags.

•   Calculate the debt-to-income ratio by adding up monthly debt payments and dividing that number by monthly pretax income.

•   Request additional documents and ask questions if necessary. For example, if a homebuyer has had more than one job over the past year and their income is not consistent, an underwriter may want to see more assets.

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.

What Is the Underwriting Process?

The mortgage-seeking journey is a winding path that eventually arrives at the underwriter.

Automated underwriting may approve your loan application, though a human underwriter will verify your application and documentation. If the software refers your application to manual underwriting, that’s usually a slower process.

Here are common steps leading to underwriting:

1. Explore your budget. Prequalifying for a mortgage is a quick act that will provide a ballpark figure, based on self-reported financial info. And you can employ a home affordability calculator to get a feel for your top price.

Think, too, about lender questions you’ll have during the mortgage process.

2. Get preapproved for a loan. Shop around for the best deal, and best-fitting loan, with a mortgage broker or direct lender.

This is the time to submit documentation of your income, employment, assets, and debts and allow a hard pull of your credit scores. What credit score is needed to buy a house? Much depends on whether you plan to use a conventional or government-backed mortgage loan (an FHA loan is especially more lenient).

A mortgage preapproval letter, often good for 30 to 90 days, indicates the lender’s willingness to lend you a particular amount at a tentative or locked interest rate. A preapproval letter also allows a buyer to act quickly in a seller’s market.

3. Go house hunting. You find a home that meets your needs, and agree on a price.

4. Apply for the loan. You may choose one of the lenders you gained preapproval from, or another lender, to apply for the mortgage. You’ll receive a loan estimate within three business days from each lender you apply with.

If you go with one of the former, you submitted documents in order to get preapproved. Still, the lender will likely ask for further documentation now that you’re ready to act on a purchase, and will take another look at your credit.

5. Wait for the underwriting verdict. A loan processor will confirm your information, and then it’s time for the underwriter to review your credit scores and history, employment history, income, debts, assets, and mortgage amount.

The underwriter will order an appraisal of the chosen property and get a copy of the title insurance, which shows that there are no liens or judgments. Finally, the underwriter will consider your down payment.

Then comes the decision: approved, suspended (more documentation is needed), or denied.

Required Information for Underwriting

Lenders are going to request a lot of documents from mortgage loan applicants.

Income verification. The lender will want to see W-2s from the past two years, your two most recent bank statements, and two most recent pay stubs. Those who are self-employed will need to document stable work and payments and ideally have a business website. Applicants will typically need to show evidence of at least two years of self-employment income in the same field.

Any additional income. Pension, Social Security, alimony, dividends, and the like all count.

Proof of assets. This can include checking and savings accounts, real estate, retirement savings, and personal property. A lender might want to see that a down payment and closing costs have been in an applicant’s account for a while.

Debts. Your debt-to-income ratio matters greatly, so list all monthly debt payments, each creditor’s name and address, account numbers, loan balances, and minimum payment amounts.

Gift letter. If you’ve received money from a family member or another person to put toward the house, the lender will request a gift letter for the mortgage and proof of that funding in your account.

Rent payments. Renters will likely need to show evidence of payments for the past 12 months and give contact information for landlords for two years.

How Long Does Underwriting Take?

Underwriting may take a couple of days to more than a week. It all depends on how complicated someone’s finances are and how busy an underwriter is.

Thankfully, underwriters typically do everything online these days, so an applicant can upload documents to a website or simply email them.

How Can I Improve My Chance of Approval?

Before applicants try to get a mortgage, they can take a number of steps to improve their chances of getting approved.

Lighten the debt load. It’s critical to pay off as much debt as possible and to try to keep your credit utilization ratio below 30%, though some lenders like to see a ratio below 25%.

Applicants can pay off debt faster by making a budget, using cash instead of credit cards to make purchases, and negotiating interest rates with creditors.

Look at credit reports. Applicants should also scour their credit reports and fix any mistakes so that their score is as high as possible. Federal law guarantees the right to access credit reports from each of the three major credit bureaus annually for free.

The reports show only credit history, not credit scores. There are ways to monitor your credit scores and track your money at no cost.

Attempt to boost income. Applicants may want to apply for higher-paying jobs or get to know the benefits of a side hustle so they can save more money.

Ask for a gift or loan partner. You could also ask a family member for a gift to put toward the down payment, or you could ask a relative with a stable credit history and income if they would apply for the loan as a co-borrower or cosigner.

With an underwriter extending a hand, a solution may be found that leads to approval.

The Takeaway

Ready to apply for a mortgage? Prepare for a probing look at your private life — the financial one — by an underwriter, who is gauging the risk of lending you a bundle of money. The underwriter looks at a homebuyer’s finances and history, the loan amount, and the chosen property and renders a verdict.

Mortgage shoppers should add SoFi home loans to their list. Why? Click on the link to see all the life-enhancing perks.

And then find your rate in just minutes.

SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See for more information.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.


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What Credit Score Do You Need to Buy a House

What’s your number? That’s not a pickup line; it’s the digits a mortgage lender will want to know. In the range of 300 to 850, a score as low as 500 may open the door to a home.

But the credit score needed to buy a house is at least 620 for most types of mortgage loans. The lowest rates usually go to borrowers with scores of 740 and above whose finances are in good order.

Why Does a Credit Score Matter?

Just as you need a résumé listing your work history to interview for a job, lenders want to see your borrowing history, through credit reports, and a snapshot of it, expressed as a score on the credit rating scale, to help predict your ability to repay a debt.

A great credit score vs. a bad credit score can translate to money in your pocket: Even a small reduction in interest rate can save a borrower thousands of dollars over time.

Do I Have One Credit Score?

You have many different credit scores based on information collected by Experian, Transunion, and Equifax, the three main credit bureaus, and calculated using scoring models usually designed by FICO® or a competitor, VantageScore®.

To complicate things, there are often multiple versions of each scoring model available from its developer at any given time, but most credit scores fall within the 300 to 850 range.

Mortgage lenders predominantly consider FICO scores. Here are the categories:

•   Exceptional: 800-850

•   Very good: 740-799

•   Good: 670-739

•   Fair: 580-669

•   Poor: 300-579

Here’s how FICO weighs the information:

•   Payment history: 35%

•   Amounts owed: 30%

•   Length of credit history: 15%

•   New credit: 10%

•   Credit mix: 10%

Mortgage lenders will pull an applicant’s credit score from all three credit bureaus. If the scores differ, they will use the middle number when making a decision.

If you’re buying a home with a non-spouse or a marriage partner, each borrower’s credit scores will be pulled. The lender will home in on the middle score for both and use the lower of the final two scores (except for a Fannie Mae loan, when a lender will average the middle credit scores of the applicants).

💡 Recommended: 8 Reasons Why Good Credit Is So Important

A Look at the Numbers

What credit score do you need to buy a house? If you are trying to acquire a conventional mortgage loan, a loan not insured by a government agency, you’ll likely need a credit score of at least 620.

With an FHA loan, 580 is the minimum credit score to qualify for the 3.5% down payment advantage. Applicants with a score as low as 500 will have to put down 10%.

Lenders like to see a minimum credit score of 620 for a VA loan.

A score of at least 640 is usually required for a USDA loan.

A first-time homebuyer with good credit will likely qualify for an FHA loan, but a conventional mortgage will probably save them money over time. One reason is that an FHA loan requires upfront and ongoing mortgage insurance that lasts for the life of the loan if the down payment is less than 10%.

💡Recommended: How to Check Credit Scores Without Paying

Credit Scores Are Just Part of the Pie

Credit scores aren’t the only factor that lenders consider when reviewing a mortgage application. They will also require information on your employment, income, and bank accounts.

A lender facing someone with a lower credit score may increase expectations in other areas like down payment size or income requirements.

Other typical conventional loan requirements a lender will consider include:

Your down payment. Putting 20% down is desirable since it often means you can avoid paying PMI, private mortgage insurance that covers the lender in case of loan default.

Debt-to-income ratio. Your debt-to-income ratio is a percentage that compares your ongoing monthly debts to your monthly gross income.

Most lenders require a DTI of 43% or lower to qualify for a conforming loan.

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.

How to Increase Your Credit Scores Before Buying a House

Working to improve or build credit over time before applying for a home loan could save a borrower a lot of money in interest. A lower rate will keep monthly payments lower or even provide the ability to pay back the loan faster.

Working on your credit scores may take weeks or longer, but it can be done. Here are some ideas to try:

1. Pay all of your bills on time. If you haven’t been doing so, it could take up to six months of on-time payments to see a significant improvement.

2. Check for errors on credit reports. Be sure that your credit history doesn’t report a missed payment in error or show a debt that’s not yours. You can get free credit reports from the three main reporting agencies.

To dispute a credit report, start by contacting the credit bureau whose report shows the error. The bureau has 30 days to investigate and respond.

3. Pay down debt. Installment loans (student loans and auto loans, for instance) affect your DTI ratio, and revolving debt (think: credit cards and lines of credit) plays a starring role in your credit utilization ratio. Credit utilization falls under FICO’s heavily weighted “amounts owed” category. A general rule of thumb is to keep your credit utilization below 30%.

4. Ask to increase the credit limit on one or all of your credit cards. This may improve your credit utilization ratio by showing that you have lots of available credit that you don’t use.

5. Don’t close credit cards once you’ve paid them off. You might want to keep them open by charging a few items to the cards every month (and paying the balance). If you have two credit cards, each has a credit limit of $5,000, and you have a $2,000 balance on each, you currently have a 40% credit utilization ratio. If you were to pay one of the two cards off and keep it open, your credit utilization would drop to 20%.

6. Add to your credit mix. An additional account may help your credit, especially if it is a kind of credit you don’t currently have. If you have only credit cards, you might consider applying for a personal loan.

💡Recommended: 31 Ways to Save for a House

The Takeaway

What credit score is needed to buy a house? The number depends on the lender and type of loan. An awesome credit score is not always necessary to buy a house, but it helps in securing a lower rate.

Ready to shop for a home? SoFi offers fixed-rate mortgage loans with competitive rates and perks.

Find your rate on a SoFi Mortgage in minutes.

SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See for more information.

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see Equal Housing Lender.

Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.


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How to Buy a House Out of State

If you’re one of the millions of Americans working remotely, you might be tempted to buy a house out of state. Or maybe you just need a change of scenery.

Buying a house long distance can be a challenge, but it’s doable with a plan in place.

Why Buy a House in Another State?

There are multiple reasons to consider a house in a different state. Here are some.


People may be lured by the cost of living of a state and its quality of life.

More than 350,000 people left California from April 2020 to January 2022 for Arizona, Texas, Florida, Washington, and other states. In the first half of 2022, New York City, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., saw more people exit than move in.

Job Relocation

Some companies move personnel out of state, and some employees are good with that. A recent Graebel report exploring the Great Resignation found that 70% of knowledge workers who resigned in the past two years may have stayed if they’d been offered the same role in a different region of the country.

Family Reasons

Some folks choose to buy a house out of state to be closer to parents, children, or grandchildren. And people in their 40s may have aging parents and financial concerns on their minds.


Americans entering retirement may want to buy a home in a state where the weather and lifestyle are more appealing. When it comes to a home, some may want to downsize.

How to Purchase a Home in Another State

Buying a house from out of state may be a challenge, but people do do it.

It can be tough to buy a house if you have a house and a mortgage. Homeowners have been known to use a home equity loan or bridge loan to fund the down payment on another house.

A personal loan can fund travel and moving costs.

If you’re ready to move on, it might be a good idea to sell and maybe ask for a leaseback. If you’re in a hurry, learn how to sell a house fast.

1. Virtually Explore

It’s easy to research cities, states, and communities online. There’s a listicle for almost everything. And data is everything, some say. There’s probably a listicle about why data is everything.

Anyway, maybe you’re interested in the safest cities in the U.S.

Or the 50 most popular suburbs.

It can be helpful to explore housing market trends by city.

Areavibes, BestPlaces, and HomeSnacks provide rankings or information. Coldwell Banker introduced Move Meter, to compare locations across the country. Or you could use Google Maps or Google Earth to study an out-of-state home’s proximity to schools, medical centers, law enforcement agencies, parks, and restaurants.

2. Link Up to Social Media

Social media platforms like Facebook Groups and Nextdoor can provide a personal sense of home buying and community.

These groups are user-friendly to newcomers, and many group members are happy to answer questions about life in their city or town.

3. Ask Co-Workers, Friends, or Family

If you’re moving out of state for a job, check in with future co-workers for advice about the homes and neighborhoods. If you’re moving near friends or family members, pick their brains. Is this going to be a good spot for you?

Moving is stressful enough. If you’re one of the growing number of people interested in financially downsizing, you may want to just exhale and enjoy when you land.

4. Consider Talking to a Relocation Specialist

Yes, home relocation professionals exist. And they do everything from connecting clients with a real estate agent to finding a long-distance moving company, scouring school districts, securing a storage space, and supervising a contractor’s work if the client is buying or building a house.

Relocation companies can also suggest local service providers and transport pets and vehicles across state lines.
Relocation services are often free of charge because the specialists earn their money from third-party vendors like real estate firms and employers transferring employees.

If you’re not inclined to hire a relocation specialist, here’s some helpful reading before making a big move:

•   7 common moving expenses

•   How to move across the country

•   How to move to another state

•   The ultimate moving checklist

You can look into the safety record of carriers on the U.S. Department of Transportation website.

5. Find a Reliable Real Estate Agent

A brave few who are interested in buying a house out of state opt to go without an agent.

It’s true that you can buy a house without a Realtor® — but even a local home sale may be challenging without a buyer’s agent in your corner.

Partnering with an experienced real estate agent who is based in the area where you hope to move could be highly beneficial.

Besides familiarity with neighborhoods, schools, and vibe, a buyer’s agent can walk a future homebuyer through local zoning regulations and the permit process.

6. Consider Visiting IRL

It’s not that rare to buy a house sight unseen. That can work out.

But someone looking to buy a house in a new state may want a real visit. You may receive short notice on a viewing date, so it could be helpful to budget for out-of-state travel as part of the buildup to buying a home in another state.

While a real estate agent can act as a proxy for homebuyers, there may be nothing like being onsite during the home inspection of a property you’ve made an offer on.

Then again, if you adore a property and must have it, you might waive some contingencies in the case of multiple offers.

7. Get Preapproved for a Mortgage

It can be easier to find a real estate agent or relocation specialist with a mortgage preapproval letter in hand.

When a lender preapproves a mortgage (a credit check and a review of financial assets is typical), it is tentatively greenlighting a specific home loan amount at a particular interest rate, which is not locked unless the lender offers a lock.

Obtaining preapproval tells home sellers that you’re qualified for a home loan up to a certain amount.

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.

8. Handle the Closing Online?

Get ready, because closing on a house may take only 20 or 30 days.

In some cases, everyone huddles to sign closing paperwork. Other times, buyers and sellers sign separately.

But most states have approved remote online notarization, when buyers join a video call, present their government-issued IDs to a title company rep and a notary, and sign all paperwork electronically.

The Takeaway on Buying a Home in a New State

Buying a house out of state requires investigation and probably a good real estate agent. Getting preapproved for a mortgage can ease the path to a new address.

Transferred workers or people with mere wanderlust will want to see the financing options SoFi offers. With SoFi, you can look into a fixed-rate mortgage loan or a home equity loan to buy a house out of state, and a personal loan to make the move.

Get prequalified for a mortgage quickly and see your rate.

SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See for more information.

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see Equal Housing Lender.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.


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How Long Is a Mortgage Preapproval Letter Good For?

A mortgage preapproval letter is usually good for 30 to 90 days, and some lenders will lock the rate for that time.

Having a letter of preapproval from a financial institution can help ensure that you’re ready to snap up a home you love.

What Is Mortgage Preapproval?

Mortgage preapproval has become an essential part of the home-buying process. Real estate agents often want to see a preapproval letter before showing houses.

And a letter shows sellers that you are serious about buying their home — even if you’re a first-time homebuyer — and that a mortgage lender is likely to give you a home loan of a specific amount quickly.

The lender will review your credit history, credit score, income, debts, and assets to determine the amount you tentatively qualify for.

Preapproval will help you focus on homes that are in your price range. Knowing how much of a mortgage you can afford is important when you can’t afford to waste time reviewing homes outside your range.

Mortgage Preapproval Process

The mortgage process starts informally for many would-be homebuyers.

Some buy into the 28% rule — spend no more than 28% of gross monthly income on a mortgage payment — and play with calculators like this home affordability calculator or the one later in this article.

Seeking mortgage preapproval means you’re getting serious. First, you’ll need to understand the different types of mortgage loans — fixed rate, adjustable rate, conventional, government insured (FHA, VA, USDA), jumbo — and what you can qualify for.

Then you’ll need to apply for a loan from one to several lenders and provide a good deal of documentation. Each lender will perform a hard credit inquiry, and you’ll receive a loan estimate within three business days.

If you’re shopping for a home loan, allowing multiple mortgage companies to check your credit within 14 or 45 days, depending on the credit scoring model being used, will minimize the hit to your credit scores.

How Long Does It Take to Get Preapproved?

It usually takes seven to 10 business days to receive a preapproval letter after submitting all the requested information.

Mortgage Preapproval Letter

Other than stating the specific amount you’re preapproved for, a mortgage preapproval letter may outline stipulations to gain the loan, such as maintaining your employment or not taking on any additional debt.

How Long Does Mortgage Preapproval Last?

Some lenders will make a commitment of 60 or 90 days. That time frame tends to work, since homebuyers typically shop for a home for eight weeks, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Other lenders will issue preapproval for only 30 or 45 days.

Recommended: How Mortgage APR Works

Mortgage Prequalification vs. Mortgage Preapproval

Since they sound similar, it’s worth mapping out the difference between prequalification and preapproval.
Prequalification is a key first step, when borrowers tell lenders about their income, assets, and debts. Lenders use that unverified information, and usually a soft credit inquiry, to give a ballpark estimate of how much they might be willing to lend.

The response is quick: You can often get prequalified immediately or within a day or two. Just realize that prequalification does not mean that a lender is guaranteeing a loan.

The mortgage preapproval process is a deeper dive and requires documentation.

To gauge whether you qualify for a mortgage, lenders will scrutinize:

•   Income: Employees will need to provide pay stubs, W-2s, and tax returns from the past two years, as well as documentation of any additional income, such as work bonuses. Self-employed workers often need two years’ worth of records and a year-to-date profit and loss statement, although many lenders and loan programs are flexible.

•   Assets and liabilities: You’ll need to provide proof of savings, investment accounts, and any properties. Lenders view assets as proof that you can afford your down payment and closing costs and still have cash reserves.

Lenders also look at monthly debt obligations to calculate your debt-to-income ratio.

•   Credit score: Your credit score is a three-digit representation of your credit history.

Recommended: What Is Considered a Bad Credit Score?

Once your lender has reviewed the information, it may offer a preapproval letter. Importantly, receiving preapproval from a lender does not obligate you to use them.

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.

Estimate Your Mortgage Payment

Before you seek prequalification or preapproval, you might want to get an idea of how much your monthly mortgage payment could be. Use the mortgage calculator below to quickly see the difference in mortgage payments based on down payment, interest rate, and a 15- or 30-year term.

What Should I Do If My Mortgage Preapproval Expires?

Lenders put an expiration date on preapproval letters because they need to have your most up-to-date financial information on hand. The credit, income, debt, and asset items they reviewed for your preapproval typically need to be updated after the letter expires, and your credit may be checked again.

You can minimize the effect of “hard pulls” on your credit score by avoiding seeking a renewal when you’re not actively shopping for a home.

If your finances have mostly stayed the same, your lender is likely to renew your preapproval.

Finalizing Your Mortgage

If you find a house while your mortgage preapproval is still valid, you can choose a lender and move on to finalizing your mortgage application. At this point, in many cases, the lender will check again to see if there have been any changes in your financial situation.

The mortgage underwriter will review all the information, order an appraisal of the chosen property and a title report, and consider your down payment. Then comes the verdict: approved, suspended (more documentation is needed), or denied.

Your mortgage is officially approved when you receive a final commitment letter. A closing date can be scheduled. It generally takes 48 days to close on a house, but it could happen in as little as 20 days.

Buyers may want to minimize changes, like applying for other loans or credit, when a home loan is in underwriting.

The Takeaway

How long is mortgage preapproval good for? Often 30 to 90 days. Getting prequalified is a good precursor to getting preapproved for a mortgage.

If you’re ready to start house hunting, check out the fixed-rate mortgages SoFi offers and the current deals.

Get prequalified for a SoFi Mortgage in minutes.

SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See for more information.

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see Equal Housing Lender.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.


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