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Q: As a new homeowner, I would like to know how soon someone can refinance their mortgage. What costs are associated when refinancing at lower mortgage rates in today’s market?
— B. O’Neal
A: You did not mention how new a homeowner you are, but according to Robert Withers, president and CEO of First Alternative Mortgage Corporation, all you need to wait for is the paperwork on your original transaction to be finalized, about 30 to 90 days. “You can refinance [almost] immediately. The question is whether the rates are low enough so that it makes sense,” says Withers.
You should also know that there are several reasons to refinance a home:
- To build equity faster by shortening the term of your current mortgage. Understand that a shorter mortgage term means a higher monthly payment. Would you be able to afford the payments?
- To take advantage of lower interest rates. You would have to determine whether interest rates have dropped significantly since your purchase for you to benefit.
- To take cash out of your home’s equity. If you can refinance at a lower rate, the money you save can be used for renovations or consolidating debt.
The costs associated with refinancing involve the same costs as your original mortgage: points, closing costs, and in some cases, penalties (see “Home Free” in Consumer Life) depending on your contract.
Shop around for the best mortgage broker and the best rates, and visit www.mortgage select.com and www.mortgage101.com. These Websites include online calculators to help in your assessment.