What Exactly IS a Streamline Refinance

While qualifying for a mortgage refinance is generally a lot harder than it has been in the past, there are some options available. One such option is the Streamline Refinance…

While guidelines and rules vary by lender, here’s a basic list of features:

  • Your current mortgage must be current on all payments
  • You must be receiving a clear benefit from the refinance
  • You may not take cash-out on the loan
  • Often there are minimal credit requirements and less paperwork meaning the process is faster and less expensive

Current mortgage – up to date and current is the number one requirement, meaning this path is not one for anyone who’s behind or in any danger of foreclosure. Clear benefit means your rate has to drop enough to cover all related fees, or convert from an adjustable to a fixed-rate loan.

What type of mortgages can be streamlined?

FHA – makes it easy to refinance your current FHA mortgage in good standing to a lower rate. FHA has permitted streamline refinances on insured mortgages since the early 1980s. What makes this process streamlined? There is no appraisal, so you can be underwater in your home by a little or a lot, and still be able to refinance your home. Keep in mind that you have to be either lowering your monthly payment or converting from an ARM to fixed rate loan, and you cannot take any cash out on the loan when you do an FHA streamline-refinance. Record low mortgage rates make this option very attractive to borrowers.

VA – also has streamline refinance option for current VA borrowers called the Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loan or IRRRL. With the VA’s options, as with the FHA loan, you must be paying less each month or going from an adjustable to fixed rate loan, and again, don’t expect cash back. The VA streamline refinance doesn’t require an appraisal or much credit work and with this loan, you can refinance at no cost as the option to roll the costs of the new loan into the new mortgage. Since VA borrowers have already taken care of their Certificate of Eligibility, the process is much easier and faster than an initial VA mortgage loan.

HARP – is a new mortgage program for homeowners who owe more on their home than the home is worth (also known as underwater). HARP (Home Affordable Refinance Program) and HARP 2.0 offer refinance options for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans older than June 1, 2009, with the loan to value ratio of 80% or more. You must be current on payments of your existing loan. This loan carries limited fees and closing costs. It is possible to have a loan servicer (the financial institution that collects your monthly mortgage payments and has responsibility for the management and accounting of your loan) to be different than the owner of your mortgage.  To see if your loan is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, visit their websites – Fannie Mae   Freddie Mac

Easy = Best?

While a streamline refinance may be the easiest option, it may not be the best option for you and you should shop different options other than your current lender or loan type to find the best rate/cost of the loan especially if you’re not underwater, not in a credit situation, and working at the same job for 2 or more years. Savings on a lower rate may offset the additional time and paperwork required for a more conventional approach to refinancing your home. Call The Mortgage Guys to discuss your options for refinancing your Atlanta home!

 


George Beylouny is a licensed loan originator and the Branch Manager for Silverton Mortgage Vinings.  He can be reached at 678-428-6514, George@mgatl.com or  www.mortgageguysatlanta.com

HARP 2.0: Are You Eligible?

The Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) has been designed to assist homeowners in refinancing their mortgages, even if they owe more than the home’s current value.

The primary expectation for Home Affordable Refinance is that refinancing will put responsible borrowers in a better position by reducing their monthly principal and interest payments, reducing their interest rate, reducing the amortization period, or moving them from a more risky loan structure (such as an interest-only mortgage or a short-term ARM) to a more stable product (such as a fixed-rate mortgage).

Who’s Eligible for a HARP 2.0 Refinance? 

To qualify for a HARP 2.0 refinance, you must meet these requirements:

  • Your mortgage must have been sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac before June 1, 2009. you can look up your mortgage with their Lookup tool here.
  • You must be current on the mortgage and have no late payments within the last six months. A late payment is defined as one that is more than 30 days overdue.
  • You must have good payment history in the past 12 months, with no more than one late payment during this time.
  • This must be your first refinance through HARP. If you have refinanced under an earlier version of the HARP program, then you do not qualify.

With the changes to the HARP Loan 2.0, homeowners who have mortgage insurance are now allowed to refinance, which means that current homeowners can potentially lower their current mortgage even with mortgage insurance.

Currently, the program deadline has been extended to December 31, 2013, so if you want to take advantage of the HARP program’s great opportunities, give The Mortgage Guys Atlanta a call so we can help determine the best option for you and your family.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

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Understanding the FHA Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP)

* Disclaimer – all information in this article is accurate as of the date this article was written *

The FHA Mortgage Insurance Premium is an important part of every FHA loan.

There are actually two types of Mortgage Insurance Premiums associated with FHA loans:

1.  Up Front Mortgage Insurance Premium (UFMIP) – financed into the total loan amount at the initial time of funding

2.  Monthly Mortgage Insurance Premium – paid monthly along with Principal, Interest, Taxes and Insurance

Conventional loans that are higher than 80% Loan-to-Value also require mortgage insurance, but at a relatively higher rate than FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums.

Mortgage Insurance is a very important part of every FHA loan since a loan that only requires a 3.5% down payment is generally viewed by lenders as a risky proposition.

Without FHA around to insure the lender against a loss if a default occurs, high LTV loan programs such as FHA would not exist.

Calculating FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums:

Up Front Mortgage Insurance Premium (UFMIP)

UFMIP varies based on the term of the loan and Loan-to-Value.

For most FHA loans, the UFMIP is equal to 2.25%  of the Base FHA Loan amount (effective April 5, 2010).

For Example:

>> If John purchases a home for $100,000 with 3.5% down, his base FHA loan amount would be $96,500

>> The UFMIP of 2.25% is multiplied by $96,500, equaling $2,171

>> This amount is added to the base loan, for a total FHA loan of $98,671

Monthly Mortgage Insurance (MMI):

  • Equal to .55% of the loan amount divided by 12 – when the Loan-to-Value is greater than 95% and the term is greater than 15 years
  • Equal to .50% of the loan amount divided by 12 – when the Loan-to-Value is less than or equal to 95%, and the term is greater than 15 years
  • Equal to .25% of the loan amount divided by 12 – when the Loan-to-Value is between 80% – 90%, and the term is greater than 15 years
  • No MMI when the loan to value is less than 90% on a 15 year term

The Monthly Mortgage Insurance Premium is not a permanent part of the loan, and it will drop off over time.

For mortgages with terms greater than 15 years, the MMI will be canceled when the Loan-to-Value reaches 78%, as long as the borrower has been making payments for at least 5 years.

For mortgages with terms 15 years or less and a Loan -to-Value loan to value ratios 90% or greater, the MMI will be canceled when the loan to value reaches 78%.  *There is not a 5 year requirement like there is for longer term loans.

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Why Do I Need To Pay A VA Funding Fee?

The VA Funding Fee is an essential component of the VA home loan program, and is a requirement of any Veteran taking advantage of this zero down payment government loan program.

This fee ranges from 1.25% to 3.3% of the loan amount, depending upon the circumstances.

On a $150,000 loan that’s an additional $1,875 to almost $5,000 in cost just for the benefit of using the VA home loan.

The good news is that the VA allows borrowers to finance this cost into the home loan without having to include it as part of the closing costs.

For buyers using their VA loan guarantee for the first time on a zero down loan, the Funding Fee would be 2.15%.

For example, on a $150,000 loan amount, the VA Funding Fee could total $3,225, which would increase the monthly mortgage payment by $18 if it were financed into the new loan.

So basically, the incremental increase to a monthly payment is not very much if you choose to finance the Funding Fee.

Historical Trivia:

Under VA’s founding law in 1944 there was no Funding Fee; the guaranty VA offered lenders was limited to 50 percent of the loan, not to exceed $2,000; loans were limited to a maximum 20 years, and the interest rate was capped at 4 percent.

The VA loan was originally designed to be readjustment aid to returning veterans from WWII and they had 2 years from the war’s official end before their eligibility expired. The program was meant to help them catch up for the lost years they sacrificed.

However, the program has obviously evolved to a long term housing benefit for veterans.

The first Funding Fee was ½% and was enacted in 1966 for the sole purpose of building a reserve fund for defaults. This remained in place only until 1970. The Funding Fee of ½% was re-instituted in 1982 and has been in place ever since.

The Amount Of Funding Fee A Borrower Pays Depends On:

  • The type of transaction (refinance versus purchase)
  • Amount of equity
  • Whether this is the first use or subsequent use of the borrower’s VA loan benefit
  • Whether you are/were regular military or Reserve or National Guard

*Disabled veterans are exempt from paying a Funding Fee

The table of Funding Fees can be accessed via VA’s website – CLICK HERE

The main reason for a Veteran to select the VA home loan instead of another program is due to the zero down payment feature.

However, if the Veteran plans on making a 20% or more down payment, the VA loan might not be the best choice because a conventional loan would have a similar interest rate, but without the Funding Fee expense.

The best way to view the VA Funding Fee is that it is a small cost to pay for the benefit of not needing to part with thousands of dollars in down payment.

* Disclaimer – all information is accurate as of the time this article was written *

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