Here’s How To Refinance A Mortgage (And Know If It’s Right For You)

May 10, 2018 · 5 minute read

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Here’s How To Refinance A Mortgage (And Know If It’s Right For You)

Imagine knowing you could pay off your mortgage faster, with less of your money sucked into the black hole that is interest payments. What would you do with the extra dollars? *Flashes to me, inhaling cheese in France.*

Over the past decade, mortgage refinancing has grown in popularity. Not that big of a surprise, considering we’ve seen a sizable drop in mortgage rates during this time. At the height of the housing crisis in 2008, rates averaged about 6% for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage .

Currently, the average rate is about 4.5% , which gives some folks the opportunity to save some serious moola by lowering their interest payments. If you signed on for a higher rate years ago or your financial situation has improved, refinancing is worth considering.

Refinancing is so popular, in fact, that it accounted for nearly 45% of all mortgage loans in 2016. There was approximately $1 trillion in refinances last year, and nearly eight million people are living in a home with a refinanced loan. Still, there seems to be some opportunity left on the table; A study by Black Knight in 2016 average counted 5.2 million qualified American homeowners that aren’t taking advantage of a potential refinance.

While refinancing isn’t right for everybody, looking into it is neither difficult, nor time-consuming. Here’s everything you need to know about refinancing a mortgage from how to start the process, to figuring out if it’s right for you.

How much does it cost to refinance a mortgage?

Since you’re essentially applying for a new loan, there will most likely be fees if you choose to refinance. Because of this, it’s important to consider those costs compared to the potential savings. A good rule of thumb is to be certain you can recoup the cost of the refinance in two to three years—which means you shouldn’t have immediate plans to move.

Refinancing will generally cost from 3% to 6% of your loan’s principal value, though you should be sure to shop around to make sure you’re getting the best deal. There are helpful online calculators for determining approximate costs for a mortgage refinance. Of course, this is only an estimate and all lenders are different. The lender will provide final closing cost information alongside a quote for your new mortgage rate.

When you refinance, you also have to consider closing costs. Some lenders may not have origination fees, but instead charge the borrower a higher interest rate. If you have a great borrowing history and a strong financial position, there are some lenders, like SoFi, that reward such borrowers by offering competitive rates and no hidden fees.

Mortgage RefinancingMortgage Refinancing

What are the steps in the mortgage refinancing process?

The first (and arguably most important) step is to determine what you want to get out of your mortgage loan refinance. There are several mortgage loan types, but “rate and term” and “cash out” are the two most common.

Just as the name implies, a “rate and term” refinance updates the interest rate, the term (or duration) of the loan, or both. You can also switch from an adjustable rate to a fixed rate and vice versa. It is important to understand that not every refinance will save you money on interest. For example, if you extend the loan terms, you may end up paying more money over the course of your loan.

With a “cash out” refinance, you are using increased equity in your home to take out additional money on your mortgage; This is usually done to fund home repairs or pay off other, higher-interest debt. This is an excellent tool if you use it wisely, but as with all loans, it’s rarely advisable to take out more than you absolutely need.

Once you determine your goal, your primary focus will be determining whether the fees are worth what you’ll gain by refinancing. Here are the steps you’ll need to take to refinance:

1. Check your credit score and credit history for errors. Your credit score is an important factor in determining whether you get a better rate. Make sure you take time to clear up anything that’s been reported erroneously, and if possible take steps to boost your score.1

2. Research your home’s approximate value. Check comparable sale prices—not just listing prices—in your neighborhood to get an idea of what your house is worth. If the value of your home has gone up significantly and improves your loan-to-value ratio (LTV), this will be helpful in securing the best refinancing rate.

3. Compare refinance rates online. Don’t forget to ask about all costs involved. Most financial institutions should be able to give you an estimate, but the accuracy can depend on how well you know your credit score and LTV ratio.

4. Get your paperwork together. The process will move faster if you have your pay stubs, bank statements, tax filings, and other pertinent financial information ready to go.

5. Have cash on hand. You may have to pay some up-front costs, like property taxes and insurance.

6. The lender will (mostly) take it from here. They will send an appraiser for a home inspection. After the loan documentation and appraisal are submitted, loan officers determine the interest rate and create the loan closing documents. The closing is then scheduled with the refinancing company, mortgage broker, and real estate attorney.

How long does a mortgage refinance take?

The process can take anywhere from 30 to 90 days, depending on your diligence, the complexity of the loan, and the efficiency of the lender or broker. If you want the process to move fast, look for institutions that are looking to disrupt traditional mortgage brokering by offering a more streamlined service and a better customer experience. If you’re like most people, you’ve got a life to live and don’t want your mortgage refinance to drag on for months. Keep this in mind while looking for a lender to refinance with.

Ready to check out your mortgage refinance rates with a competitive lender that values your time? SoFi can give you a quote (that won’t affect your credit score! 2) in as little as two minutes.


1. 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 on credit.

2. To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. A hard credit pull, which may impact your credit score, is required if you apply for a SoFi product after being pre-qualified.


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