5 Ways to Benefit from an Annual Mortgage Review

Greg Kuda, Vice President—Residential Lendinggkuda1_600

If you’re like most people, you probably meet with your financial advisor at least once a year to review how changes in your life and in the securities markets could impact your invested assets. However, few people think to request a similar check-in with their loan officer to conduct a review of their mortgage. Yet, periodically ensuring your current loan terms remain in your best interest is an equally smart money management move.

Your Biggest Asset Is Usually Your Largest Expense

With the recent recovery in home values in our area, it’s likely that your home equity has also increased. That rise may enable you to strengthen your overall financial situation or help you realize other financial goals.

For instance, if you bought your home several years ago and took advantage of one of the low-down-payment programs, your home equity may be high enough now that you are no longer required to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) each month. Being able to eliminate that expense either by having your home re-appraised or through a refinancing can reduce payments by $100 a month or more.

Similarly, if your family is expanding and you are thinking of adding on to your house, buying a vacation property, or your children are fast-approaching college age and you are looking for money to help pay for college, it could be more affordable to access your home equity through a second mortgage or by refinancing than through other financing arrangements.

5 Potential Benefits of Refinancing

  • Eliminate mortgage insurance
  • Pay off faster
  • Lower monthly payment
  • Cash out
  • Potentially reduce taxes

Where You Started Versus Where You Are Today

It’s natural that after making a big decision, especially one involving a lot of paperwork, like a mortgage, to resume your regularly scheduled life and not give it another thought. However, given the amount of money you have invested in your home and the size of your monthly mortgage payment, proactively managing your home loan through periodic reviews has the potential to help you meet more of your financial goals even sooner.

When to Review Your Mortgage

  • Interest rate environment changes
  • Life changes (marital status, new baby, college-bound child, retirement)
  • Remodeling or have plans to
  • Home equity rises above 20%

To schedule your annual mortgage review, contact your loan officer here or call 1-877-966-0202.

Five Reasons You Should Look Into the HARP® Refinancing Program Today

Terri Hanson, Vice President—Residential Lending

Terri HansonThe Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) may be easy to brush off, given all the flashing Internet ads that use it as clickbait. But, HARP is a real government program. Better yet, it can result in lower monthly payments—and/or a shorter maturity—for those who qualify.

Don’t Assume This Doesn’t Apply to You
If your current conventional mortgage closed prior to May 29, 2009, and is held by either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, it pays to see if you qualify for this program. If you checked several years ago, it’s time to check again. The restrictions on HARP loans have changed since the program was first introduced.

To find out the closing date of your loan and to verify which agency holds it, you can use the Loan Lookup tool. Or, you can just call us. We’re happy to look it up for you, whether you originated your current mortgage with us or not.

In addition to the loan date and holder criteria, you qualify for HARP if the following statements are also true:

  • Your home is your primary residence, a second home or an investment property.
  • Your home value has declined, and your loan-to-market value is greater than 80 percent.
  • You’ve had no late payments in the last six months and no more than one late payment in the six months prior to that.

Qualification is the first step, and determining if it makes dollar sense is the next. That’s also something we can help you with. We’ll do the calculation to make sure that after factoring in closing costs, HARP offers a sufficient benefit. We’ll also check to see if there are other programs available that might be better for your situation.

Five Reasons to Refinance Under HARP Now
If you are weighing the hassle of refinancing with just staying with the mortgage you have, here are five reasons why you should take action, now.

  1. Interest rates have fallen since May 29, 2009, which may mean you can refinance at a lower rate and reduce your monthly payments. Remember, even if your mortgage is at a 4 percent level now, with rates currently in the 3 percent area, that could significantly reduce your interest costs over the life of your loan.
  2. Refinancings don’t have to be apples to apples. If you are currently in an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) and want to refinance into a 30-year mortgage under this program, you have that option. You can even switch from a 30-year term to a 15-year term. Changing the term may also lower your payment or help you pay the mortgage off sooner.
  3. The program is very forgiving of changed circumstances. If your income is lower than it was when you borrowed, your credit score has fallen, you no longer have any equity in your home, or even if you’ve declared bankruptcy, you may still be able to reduce your monthly payments under this program.
  4. PMI won’t be triggered by a HARP refinancing, even if your current loan-to-value ratio is below 20 percent. If you don’t have to pay PMI currently, you won’t have to under a new HARP mortgage.
  5. The window of opportunity is closing. HARP ends December 31, 2016, and this time it is not going to be extended.

For more information about HARP online or on any of the other types of home loans we offer, click here. To have us determine your qualification and to discuss which financing structure is right for your situation, contact us at 630-466-4843 or email thanson@oldsecond.com. We can’t wait to talk to you about what we can do for you today.

The Best Time to Refinance a Mortgage

Troy Langeness, Vice President—Residential Lending

Troy LangenessToo often, homeowners refinance in reaction to interest rate levels, assuming that if rates are low or about to rise, it’s a good time. But, it may not be the best time.

For that, the determining question should be: Is now the right time for your circumstances? Because when it comes to refinancing, it’s not really about the current level of interest rates as much as it is about what you personally will accomplish by pursuing one.

What a Refinancing Can Do for You

Refinancing has a cost—generally adding up to several thousand dollars. This is why you should work with a lender to make sure going through the process will be worth the expense.

The basic rules of thumb for determining that include your intention to live in your home for at least four to five years and, when the numbers are crunched, that the refinancing will either literally pay for itself within 18 months or help you achieve some other financial goal.

These goals could include:

  • Shortening the pay-off period for your home so that you will own it free and clear before you retire. This is usually accomplished by replacing a 30-year mortgage with a 20-, 15- or 10-year mortgage.
  • Lowering your monthly payment by refinancing your current home loan balance at a lower interest rate, enabling you to put more money into savings or take on other expenses.
  • Consolidating high-interest debt (such as credit card balances or auto loans) with lower-rate mortgage debt to make monthly payments more affordable and tax deductible.
  • Accessing the home equity you’ve built up over the years to purchase another asset that you might not be able to finance otherwise due to circumstances beyond your control.
  • Eliminating private mortgage insurance (PMI), which is mandatory on loan to values greater than 80 percent.
  • Locking in a fixed rate and retiring an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM).

Online refinance comparison calculators can help you estimate the benefits of refinancing. But, talking to a lender who will listen, check your numbers and even customize the loan structure to make sure refinancing makes sense for you is highly recommended before you apply.

How To Prepare For a Refinance

Other Considerations

Once you determine that refinancing is right for you, be aware that the approval process for home-based lending has changed dramatically since 2009. Nearly all the changes were made to improve consumer protection. That said, refinancing takes more documentation than it used to.

Even when these loans are handled online, they now require a deeper dive into your credit history. Borrowers are required by the government-sponsored enterprises, including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to do more explaining about their assets, sources of income and any recent money transfers that result in large deposits. These, in turn, need to be documented to establish their paper trails.

Old Second continues to leverage technology to ensure your refinancing is as efficient as possible. We accept applications online, face to face or by phone and offer the option of electronic signatures on many of the documents.

If you think a refinancing would help you accomplish your financial goals, call us. We’re always happy to talk it through and create the right loan structure for your situation.