Advertiser Disclosure

Mortgage

How High Will Mortgage Rates Go in 2019?

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

iStock

2019 may be the year when 30-year rates cross the 5% barrier and head up from there, at least according to Freddie Mac’s forecast from July 2018. As a result, many people worried about housing affordability, especially with home prices likely continuing to rise.

Considering 30-year rates were in the 3% to 4% universe for the better part of 2011 to 2017, 5% may be a bit jarring. Still, there is actually some good news that comes with higher mortgage rates, and it all starts with a reality check on where rates have been, and where they are headed.

A little history of mortgage rates gives some perspective

It helps to look at where rates have been to get a better idea of just how high they are relative to other times in history. Mortgage rates made history for the better part of the last decade, dropping to levels not seen in more than 40 years.

If you look to the upper left of the graph above, you’ll see that mortgage rates briefly jumped above 18%. That’s right — 18%. So relative to where interest rates have been, 5% is still a historically low rate for home loan financing.

How high are mortgage rates going to go?

Industry analysts, including LendingTree’s Chief Economist Tendayi Kapfidze, project mortgage rates will rise 50 basis points in 2019. (LendingTree is MagnifyMoney’s parent company.)

In terms of actual interest rates, 100 basis points equals 1%. At the beginning of 2018, average rates were about 4%. By the end of this year, rates hit the 5% level (an increase of 100 basis points). If rates go up another 50 basis points, that means we may see 5.5% at some point in 2019.

If you got a 30-year $300,000 mortgage at the beginning of 2018, the 4% rate came with a principal and interest payment of $1,432.25 per month. If rates head to 5.5%, the increase in payment is $271.12 per month for a total principal and interest payment of $1,703.37.

While the monthly payment increase might not necessarily take you off the homebuying trail, the long-term cost comes with a bit of sticker shock: A loan with a 5.5% interest rate versus a 4% interest rate amounts to $97,603.33 of extra interest paid over the life of a mortgage.

Higher rates may be good news in some cases

When interest rates start rising, that’s a sign that the economy is improving. In an improving economy, jobs become more plentiful — you’d have to travel back to the year 2000 to find an unemployment rate as low as it is now. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment is projected by 11.5 million through 2026 and wages are still going up.

A bigger paycheck means you may finally have the income necessary to purchase a home. Don’t forget your mortgage interest and your property taxes may be tax-deductible. Depending on where your income is headed, you may still realize a potential tax benefit even with higher mortgage rates.

What do higher rates really mean for homebuying?

Higher interest rates always mean higher monthly payments for fixed-rate loans. The higher payment would then affect your debt-to-income ratio, which could impact how much of a house you can buy. Adjustable-rate mortgages become more attractive in high interest rate environments, providing significant savings over periods as long as 10 years.

Higher interest rates also mean less competition when you are trying to buy a house. If the thought of an increase of $100 to $200 per month due to increasing mortgage rates doesn’t bother you, higher interest rates may help weed out the competition, giving you an edge with your offer. On the flip side, you might end up being the one who gets weeded out.

Because there are fewer refinances occurring during periods with higher mortgage rates, lenders start going outside their typical standards for credit approval to provide alternative financing choices. Buyers who have credit histories that don’t fit into the minimum requirements of conventional, FHA, VA or USDA loans are finding more lending options in the form of “non-prime,” “non-QM” and “non-Dodd Frank” programs now being offered.

This increase in alternative lending options means consumers who recently had a bankruptcy or foreclosure have buying options, although the down payment requirements and interest rates will be significantly higher than what’s required of borrowers who meet standard requirements. Self-employed borrowers may be the biggest beneficiaries of alternative credit loans, because some of the program guidelines only require bank statements for qualification. Such a borrower may be more likely to qualify for a mortgage when using their average of deposits over a 12- to 24-month period for qualifying income, instead of tax-return documents.

What Mortgage Amount Do you Need?
Calculate Payment Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

What do higher rates really mean for refinancing?

Borrowers looking to refinance will see the biggest drawbacks as rates move higher. Monthly savings are going to be less, if any money can be saved at all, with a refinance, especially if your current rate is less than the 5% fixed rates on the horizon — but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways that you can refinance and save money.

The current higher interest market has occurred at the same time as increases in home prices. If you put down less than 20% when you bought your home, part of your monthly payment probably includes monthly mortgage insurance. With home prices rising the past four years at very healthy rates in several parts of the country, it may be time to see if you can get rid of your mortgage insurance.

Depending on how much you are currently paying for mortgage insurance, even if the new mortgage rate is more expensive, you still may save money monthly. Get out a copy of your current mortgage statement and then use a mortgage calculator to see where your rate would be based on your current mortgage balance and credit score. You may be surprised by how much you can save if you have 20% equity, even if your new mortgage rate is higher.

You may also find other benefits to refinancing in the current rate and home-value environment, based on how much equity you have. If you are struggling with high-interest credit card balances, or need to do some home improvements you don’t have the cash for, a cash-out refinance may give you some much-needed help.

Higher rates may shift the focus onto affordable housing options

As high home prices and higher interest rates push more buyers out of the homebuying market, lenders begin to focus expanding affordable housing options. One way to provide lower priced homes to the market is to offer competitive financing options for manufactured homes.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac launched new mortgage financing programs for manufactured home purchases and construction in 2018, and expect to continue those initiatives into 2019. Lenders are offering loans for the purchase of manufactured homes with lower down payment requirements and easier qualifying standards such as lower credit scores and higher debt-to-income ratios.

Another way to make homes more affordable is to give consumers more options for qualifying. According to a recent Urban Institute study, 53% of renters surveyed indicated that a down payment was an obstacle to homeownership. One solution to this problem may involve using sweat equity instead of cash for a down payment.

The Federal Housing Administration’s definition of sweat equity is “labor performed, or materials furnished by the borrower before closing on the property being purchased.” Freddie Mac recently announced an expansion of the guidelines for its low-down-payment, first-time-homebuyer HomePossible® program, allowing for the entire down payment to come from sweat equity.

This is great news for buyers who have the skills to do repairs and improvements to a fixer-upper, and also for sellers who can’t or don’t want to do the repairs on a property they have for sale.

Final thoughts

Homebuyers and homeowners fortunate enough to refinance or buy before 2018 enjoyed some of the lowest mortgage interest rates on record. But those rates were the result of economic turmoil: More people were unemployed, many homes were worth less than the mortgages taken out on them, and retirement and savings accounts were wiped out trying to clean up the excesses of the housing crash of 2007.

Higher mortgage rates are a sign that those days have passed, and have been replaced by an economy that is producing more jobs, higher incomes and more housing wealth. When refinances aren’t taking up the resources of mortgage lenders, more focus can be put on affordable housing, and programs that allow for aspiring and current homeowners with more credit and income challenges to become homeowners.

With rates on the rise, it is important to make your decisions faster with regards to buying or refinancing. Anyone who hesitated from 2018 to 2019 is paying the consequences in the form of a higher monthly payment.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Denny Ceizyk
Denny Ceizyk |

Denny Ceizyk is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Denny here

Compare Mortgage Loan Offers for Free

Home Purchase Quotes

Home Refinance Quotes

(It only takes 3 minutes!)

NMLS #1136 Terms & Conditions Apply

Advertiser Disclosure

Mortgage

Tips for Handling Homeownership During and After Divorce

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

iStock

Even though the divorce rate in the U.S. is falling, it’s still common for marriages to end. The emotional cost of such a life-changing event is obviously significant, but the financial impact of a divorce can last for a lifetime as well.

For couples that own a home, the decision about what to do with the house after a divorce comes with both personal and financial questions. Is there a sentimental reason for one spouse to keep the home? Is it best for the children to stay in the school district they are in? Is the house affordable on just one spouse’s income?

That’s why the decision is so difficult. In this article, we’ll break down some of the more important aspects of dealing with homeownership during a divorce.

Why your home is so important in a divorce

A home is usually the biggest asset you will have in your lifetime — and also the one you’re most emotionally attached to.

When couples divorce, they need to split up the money and property they’ve accumulated while married. Dividing up these assets and debts often creates stress and confusion, and disagreements about who should get what. That’s even more true for homes. It may be easy to divvy up the balance of a checking or savings account, but dividing up the equity and outstanding mortgage of a marital home is complicated.

3 ways to handle homeownership in a divorce

There are three common ways to handle homeownership involving a divorce. The option that works best for you will depend on how amicable the relationship remains, and whether or not there are children involved in the divorce.

1) Sell the home.

This is often the simplest way to pay off the mortgage and split the proceeds of the money made from the sale. Each party can use their portion of the equity to purchase another home if they qualify for a new mortgage in the future.

There may be tax implications from the sale, so it’s important to consult with a tax professional to find out how the sale will affect your obligations.

2) Refinance the home and buy out the other spouse.

In cases where divorces include children, one of the spouses will often want to keep the family home. This could be to preserve relationships with neighbors, keep children in a school district or simply for sentimental reasons.

But a house is generally the biggest asset a couple has. If one spouse is going to keep it, that can make it difficult to divide the overall pie equally.

In this case, you’ll often need to use a cash-out refinance to buy out your spouse’s portion of the equity in the home.

A cash-out refinance allows you to get a new mortgage at a higher amount than the current outstanding loan. The difference between the two is paid to you in cash. The amount you can borrow in a cash-out refinance will depend on the loan program you choose.

When evaluating your options, it’s also helpful to know the maximum debt-to-income ratios allowed in a refinanced mortgage. This measures your monthly mortgage payment as a percentage of your overall income. If you bought the house with joint income, you’d need to make sure you can qualify for the new mortgage post-divorce.

Here are three typical refinance loan programs to explore.

Conventional cash-out refinance: The maximum you can borrow will be 80% of the value of the property. The maximum debt-to-income ratio is 45%.

FHA cash-out refinance: You can borrow up to 85% of the value of your home. The debt-to-income ratio is a maximum of 43%.

VA cash-out refinance: If the spouse staying in the house is a veteran, 100% of the value of the property can be refinanced. There is no maximum debt-to-income ratio, but the veteran must be able to show that he or she has enough money left over every month to meet basic needs.

3) Refinance without taking cash out.

In some cases, you might be able to negotiate the division of your assets without having to take any cash out in a refinance. This is a good option if there is very little equity in the home.

Conventional refinancing is often a good fit. If you qualify, here are some “streamline refinance” options that could also work in your situation. They are considered “streamlined” because they often require less documentation.

FHA streamline refinance. This refinancing program is open to people who originally got an FHA mortgage on their home and allows you to remove one of the original borrowers on the loan. However, you need to call your current lender to see if there are restrictions on doing so. There may be requirements for the person staying on the loan to prove they can qualify for the loan on their own.

VA streamline refinance. If a veteran spouse is going to keep the home, it can be streamline refinanced into his or her name. The VA will require a statement from the veteran confirming the ability to qualify on the new loan, especially if the original loan was made with both spouses’ income.

How much would you like to borrow?
Calculate Payment Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

What you’ll need when you go to refinance during or after a divorce

If you and your soon-to-be ex have a mortgage on your current home, there are some very specific things that you’ll need to do if you plan on keeping your house. Your divorce decree will be the primary document used by underwriters for any mortgages you get in the future.

Mortgage underwriters will use the decree as a guide for what debt is counted against a spouse on a future application, as well as when and how income such as child support and alimony can be used as qualifying income for a new mortgage.

If a lender can’t clearly see that debt belongs to your ex-spouse because it didn’t identify the account number of the creditor’s name, the debt will be counted against you and you’ll qualify for less loan. The tips below can help you avoid that scenario.

  • Make sure you know every account you have. Every open credit card, every car loan and every real estate asset should be listed on the divorce decree. As the divorce process begins, it’s a good idea to get a “tri-merge” credit report from a credit reporting company, so there is documentation of all the debt that is date stamped. This report includes data from all three bureaus, which is important because information can sometimes vary from bureau to bureau. If more debt shows up later, at least there is a baseline for when it was opened when you first began planning for the divorce.
  • Detail all the debt and assets in writing: Each spouse should have both debt and assets identified by account number and creditor name. For example, if you have a car loan, list the make, model and year, the name of the lender, the balance of the loan, the monthly payment and the account number. It’s best to also provide the most current statements with balances even if you have a credit report, since the balances on credit reports may not reflect payments or charges made in the last 60 days.
  • Provide your attorney with current asset and income documents: When you’re trying to determine who gets what, the final decisions will likely be made based on who makes what, and which assets will be split such as retirement, stocks, bonds, cash value life insurance, cars, motorcycles, etc. This information will also be needed as part of the mortgage application process, so it’s good to have it organized and ready to provide when it’s time to start the refinance.
  • Write down any details of actions to be taken after divorce: If one spouse is going to refinance the property into his or her name, it should be clearly stated with a deadline for when the refinance must be completed. If credit cards are going to be paid off as part of a refinance, the instructions should clarify all the details.

Child support and alimony in future mortgages

Even if you’ve been awarded child support and alimony, you may not be able to use it to qualify as income for a mortgage right away. Be sure to keep documentation of the receipt of any of these sources of income the first year you receive them.

  • Three months after a divorce. If alimony or child support is court ordered, they can be used as income to qualify for a new mortgage as long as proof of receipt of the income for three months is provided.
  • Six months after a divorce. If the child support or alimony is “voluntary,” meaning your ex-spouse has agreed to pay without a court order, proof of receipt of the income for six months can be used to qualify for a new mortgage.
  • Child support agreement with birth dates. In order to use child support to qualify, you’ll need proof that the income will continue for at least three years. The decree should show the children’s ages, but lenders could request birth certificates as well.

There are different ways that divorce liabilities like alimony and child support are counted against you, which may affect your ability to qualify for new mortgage financing. If the alimony you pay is court ordered, be sure to provide a copy of the divorce decree.

Voluntary versus court-ordered alimony and child support. If a spouse opts to pay child support or alimony without any court order enforcing payments, it doesn’t have to be counted against the ex-spouse on a mortgage loan. Court-ordered alimony must be counted, but rather than counting it against the borrower’s total debt, it can be treated as a reduction in income, which doesn’t have as much impact on debt-to-income ratios.

The bottom line

The most important thing to remember with homeownership and divorce is that your responsibility for paying the mortgage only changes if one of you can qualify for a new mortgage loan. Even though a divorce decree may require the mortgage to be paid by an ex-spouse, that doesn’t provide you any protection against the credit effects of a late payment or default.

The same is true of debt that is divided up. If your ex is late on debts the decree states he needs to pay, your credit will still be impacted. A little bit of pre-planning and organization can go a long way to making the divorce refinancing process less stressful, and prepare you for your financial life after divorce.

This aticle contains links to LendingTree, our parent company

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Denny Ceizyk
Denny Ceizyk |

Denny Ceizyk is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Denny here

Compare Mortgage Loan Offers for Free

Home Purchase Quotes

Home Refinance Quotes

(It only takes 3 minutes!)

NMLS #1136 Terms & Conditions Apply

Advertiser Disclosure

Mortgage

Refinancing Your Mortgage When You Have Bad Credit

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

no closing cost refinance
iStock

With interest rates rising, it may not seem like the best time to refinance — especially if you have bad credit. But in many parts of the country, home values have risen significantly in the past few years, which may make a refinance worthwhile even if you’ve got some credit challenges.

Refinancing can also be a useful tool to address some of the underlying credit issues you face. Refinancing your mortgage when you have bad credit could allow you to get cash to pay off credit card debt, improve your future credit scores and lower your total monthly expense.

Here’s a guide on why you might want to refinance now with bad credit, and how you can do it.

Refinancing to pay off other debt

One of biggest reasons to refinance when home values are going up is to access some of the equity you have built since you bought your house. Equity is the difference between how much you owe on your mortgage and the current value of your home.

With a cash-out refinance, you get a new mortgage for a greater amount than your current loan, and receive the balance in cash. You can then use that money to settle other debt and start boosting your credit score.

  • You can pay off high-interest rate credit cards. Even if you end up with a higher rate on a new mortgage, the rates on credit cards if you have poor credit are likely much higher — in some cases, as high as 26.99%. And since credit card rates are variable, they can go up whenever the market changes. If you’re only able to make the minimum payments, it will take a very long time to pay them off.
  • You can pay off large installment loans. Sometimes sudden income or employment changes can make a recent short-term installment loan a bigger burden. An installment loan is any type of loan paid back within a set period of time, like car loans and student loans. That new minivan payment may have been affordable when you were getting large bonuses at your job, but if that extra income suddenly stops, the $700 a month payment may create a strain on your monthly budget. A cash-out refinance can be used to pay off this debt, too — not just credit card debt.
  • Your balance can improve your future credit scores. A big part of your credit score is driven by how high your credit card balances are compared with the maximum you can charge, a number called your credit utilization ratio. If your credit cards are maxed out, your scores are likely to be lower. If you pay your balances down, and keep the balances low in the future, your credit scores may improve significantly.

It’s important to look at your short-term and long-term goals when considering a cash-out refinance to pay off debt when you have bad credit. You are replacing short-term debt with a long-term obligation, and starting over the clock on your mortgage. On the flip side, mortgage, student loan or car loan balances have less of a negative impact on your scores than high balances on credit cards.

There may be ways to minimize the amount of cash you take out. Try to budget to pay down or pay off credit card balances. Think about trading in a car with a high payment for something smaller or older to reduce the monthly payment.

How much would you like to borrow?
Calculate Payment Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Other reasons to refinance with bad credit

Although debt consolidation can provide a financial benefit, there are other objectives that can be accomplished with a refinance when you have bad credit.

  • Replenishing cash reserves. Cash can be taken out to create a cushion for an expected future purchase or expense, rather than using credit cards that are likely to have very high rates and payments.
  • Moving away from an adjustable or interest-only mortgage. If you currently have an adjustable rate or an interest-only payment period, you may have received notice that your payment is about to go up substantially. Refinancing to a fixed rate can give you security against large monthly payment increases in the future.
  • Renovating or upgrading your house. With bad credit, it’s much harder to get a home equity line of credit or a home equity loan. A cash-out refinance could help you do those upgrades to increase the value of your house, or take care of much needed repairs like a roof replacement or new air conditioner.

Credit union personal loans

Another source for personal loans is credit unions. In general, the rates at credit unions tend to be lower than those at traditional banks. Loan terms are often more flexible and borrower requirements less stringent.

Furthermore, consumers typically receive a more personal experience. Considering all these factors, many consumers choose to take out personal loans at credit unions over traditional banks.

  • Average rates: The APR at credit unions currently ranges from 6.49% to 18.00%. As of September 2018, the average rate at credit unions for a 36-month personal loan is 9.33%.
  • Term length: Depending on the lender, borrowers can choose terms from 12 months to 84 months.
  • Borrowing limits: Loan amounts vary among credit unions with some allowing up to $25,000 while others permit up to $50,000.

Programs available for refinancing with bad credit

Government loan programs such as FHA, VA and USDA loans will provide you with the most flexibility for refinancing if you have credit issues. Besides allowing you to get more cash out than conventional loans, they also allow for higher debt-to-income ratios, which means you can borrow more than you would be able to with a conventional mortgage.

Be prepared to provide extra documentation to offset your credit challenges. Write down a detailed explanation about what caused late payments, collections or charge offs and how things have improved, or will improve with the refinance.

  • Conventional cash-out refinance: Conventional mortgage programs will allow you to borrow up to 80% of the value of your house and have few restrictions of what you use the cash out for. If your scores are under 680, it may be difficult to get approved up to the maximum.
  • FHA cash-out refinance: The HUD-insured FHA mortgage is a government loan program that allows you to access up to 85% of the value of your home with few limits on how you use the money. FHA loans offer more flexibility for lower credit scores and credit issues, and allow for higher debt-to-income ratios than conventional loans.
  • VA cash-out refinance: Qualified military veterans can borrow up to 100% of the value of their home, and there are few restrictions on the use of the money. VA loans offer more allowances for credit issues, and can be approved for even higher debt-to-income ratios than FHA loans.
  • USDA cash-out refinance: The USDA loan program does allow borrowing up to 100% of the value of the house, but only for repair or remodeling of the home. Since the funds have to be provided to a contractor, this is considered more of a construction loan than a cash-out refinance. All of the money must be paid to contractors for the repair or construction work that is done.
  • FHA streamline refinance with and without an appraisal: After you have made six payments on time with your current FHA mortgage, you are eligible for a streamline refinance. The biggest advantage of this program is it doesn’t require proof of income, and if you are willing to pay some closing costs, you won’t need an appraisal either. The FHA streamline also doesn’t require a full credit report, just proof that your current mortgage has been paid on time the past six months. If you need to roll in costs, then you’ll need to get an appraisal.
  • VA interest rate reduction loan: Similar to the FHA program, this loan allows qualified veterans to refinance their current VA loans without verifying income and does not require an appraisal in most cases.
  • USDA streamlined assist: Allows for a refinance of the current USDA mortgage without full documentation of income, and without a new appraisal. You must save at least $50/month, and the last 12 months of mortgage payments must have been made on time.

What credit scores do lenders need to refinance a mortgage?

The credit scores needed to refinance a mortgage are not much different from what is needed to buy a house. Beyond the credit scores, lenders are still going to look at how you’ve managed your payment history on your credit report the past 24 months.

Your mortgage payment history will carry the most weight in the approval decision-making, followed by credit cards and installment loans. For example, you may have had some late payments on your credit cards, but if your recent mortgage payment history is perfect, the lender may still approve your loan.

The consequence of bad credit is a higher cost of credit. Below is a loan level price adjustment chart that is used by one of the largest sources of mortgages in the U.S., Fannie Mae, based on an LTV range of 75-80%.

Credit ScoreIncrease to the cost of your interest rate

More than 740

0.50%

700-719

1.25%

680-700

1.75%

660-679

2.75%

640-659

3.00%

Using the grid above, someone pursuing a $250,000 maximum cash-out refinance with a credit score between 640-659 is going to pay $3,125 more than someone who has a score between 680-699 if they are borrowing the maximum 80% cash out on a conventional mortgage refinance.

Below are the minimum scores for refinancing based on the different loan programs available.

  • Conventional: 620 is the standard minimum for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac conventional mortgage loans.
  • FHA: FHA loans will require a 580 FICO score for most refinance loans. Exceptions can be made for scores as low as 500, but will require a higher amount of equity.
  • VA: Most lenders will require a 580 FICO score, although like FHA, exceptions can be made depending on the equity level.
  • USDA: Most lenders will require a 640 score, although exceptions can be made down to 580.

Shopping around for a good rate when you have bad credit

Just because you don’t have the highest credit score doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shop around for the best rate. One place to start shopping is with LendingTree’s Mortgage Refinance Rates tool (Note: MagnifyMoney is a subsidiary of LendingTree).

However, you do need to ask a few more questions with rate shopping if you have bad credit. The following steps will give you the information you need to get the most accurate quotes.

  • Get rate quotes on the same day. Much like stocks, interest rates change daily, sometimes even hourly, depending on market conditions. It’s important to set aside enough time to obtain your quotes on the same day. Besides the rate itself, you want to know about the fees. Very low advertised rates will often require higher origination and other fees.
  • Make sure you are getting quotes for the same lock periods. When you receive a quote, the interest rate is generally locked in for a certain period of time. The longer period you lock, the more expensive the rate. Be sure you are getting at least a 30 to 45 day rate quote to give enough time for the appraisal and approval process.
  • Make sure information you give lenders for the rate quote is the same. Have a checklist of information you give to all of the lenders you contact: credit score, property type, value and loan amount should be the same with all of the quotes.
  • Ask if the lenders have any extra guidelines for bad credit. Be sure to tell lenders upfront if you have recent late payments on mortgages, credit cards or other negative credit issues. It’s better to know sooner if they can’t approve your loan.
  • Ask the lender if they specialize in refinances for bad credit. There are lenders that have additional experience and investor choices for bad credit. Ask a lot of questions. If you don’t get a lot of answers or feedback, move on to the next lender.
  • Make sure there are no upfront nonrefundable fees. The only fees that lenders should require before closing are the credit report and appraisal fee. Any other fees should be payable at closing.
  • Make sure you get the quotes in writing on a Loan Estimate form: Verbal rate quotes don’t hold any weight, so be sure you are comparing your rates and fees on a “Loan Estimate” form so you can compare all the offers side by side. You can also use the written estimates to negotiate between the lenders for the best terms.

The bottom line: You can refinance even with bad credit

Before you start the process, use a mortgage refinance calculator to get an idea of what the rates will be based on your credit score right now.

You will most likely have to provide more documentation with your refinance if you have bad credit. Lenders will want more proof that your income is stable, your assets are solid, your home is in good condition, and will likely require detailed explanations of all of the negative items on your credit report.

If at first you don’t succeed, try another lender. Not all mortgage lenders have access to the same programs, so getting turned down by one mortgage company doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get approved.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Denny Ceizyk
Denny Ceizyk |

Denny Ceizyk is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Denny here

Compare Mortgage Loan Offers for Free

Home Purchase Quotes

Home Refinance Quotes

(It only takes 3 minutes!)

NMLS #1136 Terms & Conditions Apply