Borrowers eager to join the refinance and purchase boom, contributed to a considerable increase in applications toward the end of January.
Home mortgage purchase applications rose 9.5% while refinance applications increased by 11.7%. The increase was the largest boost in recent months, signaling that buyer and refinance interest hasn’t waned.
The mortgage loan rate environment remained stabile with the average interest rate for both the 30-year and 15 year products increasing by only one basis point (4.83% and 4.13%).
Why the Application Increase Now?
Economists have been warning of a slow, but steady rate increase which has had jittery borrowers on edge. The slight rate inch has borrowers clamoring to meet with loan officers to hop on the 1st and 2nd mortgage bandwagon before mortgage rates return to 6% and 7%.
Although the writing has been on the wall for several months, borrowers are finally seeing a rate trend as the economy recovers. With the 10 year treasury rate increasing, indictors point to the nearly certain possibility that the 30 year-fixed rate mortgage rate will increase as well.
Additionally, with the U.S. unemployment rate down to 9% and consumer spending on the uptick, savvy borrowers have dialed into the economic shift and feel that now is the best time to take advantage of rates we won’t see anytime again soon.
Rates Inch Higher Last Week
Rates are already on the move as last week’s 30-year product rose to 5.13% and 15 year mortgages are now hovering at 4.29%. According to Michael Fratantoni, VP/Research and Economics at Mortgage/Foreclosures Bankers Association (MBA), “Mortgage rates increased last week as many incoming economic indicators continue to show stronger growth than had been anticipated.”
Although mortgage rates have risen, borrowers continue to understand that 5.13% on a 30 year mortgage continues to offer extreme financial benefits and are hoping to refinance before rates resume post 2007 levels.
How to Refinance Your Mortgage—Now
Now seems to be the best time to save money on your existing purchase. Before diving in, determine if you are in an advantageous position to refinance:
- Refinance an older mortgage. If you haven’t refinanced your mortgage in several years, now is the time to investigate whether you should explore 2nd mortgage financing. Determine if your current mortgage has a prepayment penalty, which may influence your decision and determine how long you plan to stay in your home. You want to ensure that your lower monthly payments do not exceed the costs of refinancing.
- Determine refinance eligibility. Although you may want a 2nd mortgage, you must first determine if you are eligible. The process is similar to the first mortgage routine, including the need to furnish your income, assets, debts, property value and desired amount you would like to borrow. Also, your credit score will be scrutinized so evaluate your credit report prior to making application. Mortgage brokers will also examine your loan-to-value (LTV) ratio to ensure it falls within the lender’s guidelines.
- Evaluate the cost to refinance. The average refinance cost is typically from 3% to 6% of your outstanding principal in refinancing fees. Some of the most common charges include an application fee, loan origination fee, survey fee, prepayment fee, points, appraisal fee, title search, mortgage insurance, inspection fee, attorney review or closing fee and homeowner’s insurance. Fees such as PMI, FHA, RDS or VA fees may apply if the borrower is refinancing through a government-housing program.
- Calculate the mortgage “break even” period. Use a mortgage calculator to determine how long it will take before you benefit from the lower rate. Most mortgage calculators take into consideration fees and current equity to help you arrive at an accurate figure.
- Shop for a lender. Begin with your current mortgage broker then do some comparative shopping by comparing mortgage rates and find the best situation for your needs. For some borrowers, fees are the highest on their list, whereas for others flexibility is more important.
Whether it’s a 1st or 2nd mortgage, borrowers should always explore their options and interview a variety of lenders to find the best mortgage match. Compare mortgage rates and calculate your savings now.