Home Refinance

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Our Top Mortgage Refinance Lenders of 2020

2020 has proven to be a fantastic year for refinance rates.  They are currently at the lowest they’ve been for years, so now could be the perfect time to refinance.  According to a Black Knight Mortgage Monitor Report, interest rates stand at 3.49% APR, which is 0.75% lower than last year.  Given this, if you took a mortgage out last year you may want to think about refinancing it this year. If you are looking to refinance to a lower rate or lower monthly payment, we can help find  you the best mortgage refinance lender for your unique situation. We’ve taken a stab at putting together the best lenders in a variety of categories that can help you through the refinance process.  Even though you’ve been through the home loan process, there are more refinance lenders and more loan options than we’ve seen previously. With mortgage interest rates at historically low levels, it appears to be a good time for borrowers to refinance their home loan.   Given that no mortgage refinance company is perfect for every single borrower, we’ve compiled a list of mortgage lenders spanning a variety of categories:

    Who Are Our Top Mortgage Refinancing Lenders of 2020?

    Below are the LowerMyBills picks for top 4 mortgage lenders for 2020

    • Quicken Loans
    • LoanDepot
    • Amerisave
    • New American Funding

    Quicken Loans

    Quicken Loans is the largest online retail mortgage lender, according to National Mortgage News.  Quicken loans offers a wide variety of mortgage refinancing loan options that includes conventional loans, jumbo loans, ARM, VA FHA, and cash out refinance options.  Quicken Loans offers loans in all 50 states.   

    Quicken offers a couple of unique mortgage offerings.  The first is the “YOURgage” loan by Quicken Loans. With this loan, they offer the ability for you to customize your mortgage based on your goals for fixed-rate conventional mortgages.  With this loan, you can pick any loan term between 8 and 30 years, refinance up to 97% of your home’s value or purchase a home with as little as 3% down. 

    The second is the 1% down payment option where borrowers are able to only put 1% down on the house.   Only purchase loans are available for this option and the home must be a single-family home and a primary residence.  One requirement is that a borrower’s Debt-to-income ratio will need to be 45% or lower and first-time homebuyers to take an online introduction-to-homeownership course free of charge.

    LoanDepot

    LoanDepot has great mortgage product options and ranks as the 2nd largest lender of FHA loans & 5th largest lender of VA loans.  LoanDepot also has a unique focus in renovation loans where they offer an FHA 203K fixer upper loan to allow borrowers the flexibility to buy and improve a home with just one loan.  These loans can be especially useful for refinancing your existing mortgage for home improvements.

    AmeriSave 

    Customers can apply for mortgage loans both online and over the phone, but don’t have a physical branch.  They offer rate & term refinancing to lower your current interest rate or change the term length of your mortgage, as well as cash out refinancing to get cash out of your home’s equity to use it or debt consolidation, home improvements and more. They offer a wide variety of loan products from Fannie Mae, USDA, FHA and VA loans.

    New American Funding

    New American Funding is licensed in 48 states and provides a variety of mortgages from fixed-rate, adjustable-rate, Jumbo, FHA, VA, USDA and Home Improvement loans.  One mortgage exclusive to New American Funding is the “I CAN Mortgage.” This a fixed-rate loan offer to help customers who are between loan types. This mortgage offers down payments as low as 5% and the flexibility to choose your loan term from 8 to 30 years.  This is only available to borrowers if their new home is a primary residence and single-family home.

    How Does Mortgage Refinancing Work?

    A mortgage is essentially a loan from a lender that helps the borrower purchase real estate, where the property bought is used as collateral.  A mortgage refinance takes your current mortgage and trades it for a new loan. The lender then pays off the older mortgage and you make the payments on the new mortgage.  

    What are types of mortgage refinancing?

    • Conventional loans
    • FHA loans
    • USDA loans
      • loans that help low to moderate income borrowers purchase homes in rural areas.
    • VA loans
      • loans that help service members, veterans, reserves or National Guard borrowers purchase homes with little or no down payment and no private mortgage insurance.  There is a refinance program called the IRRRL program (Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan) that allows those with a VA loan to refinance into a new VA loan.
    • Special mortgages may be available to residents of a particular state or city, or to individuals in certain professions, such as nurses, teachers, firefighters or police officers.

    Which lenders offer the best mortgage and refinance deals?

    The best mortgage or refinance lenders really depends on budget, location and if you like to conduct your business 100% online (with a lender like RocketMortgage) or with loan officers in person.  There are big banks that offer many types of loans and will service your loan without selling it off. Some of these banks offer discounts or credit card points for customers that take out mortgages with them.  Other lenders include small local lenders that are more familiar with the area and real estate in the area, whereas online lenders could give you better rates and lower fees due to lower overhead costs. Credit unions offer other advantages over banks and local lenders as their lending requirements aren’t as strict as a banks due to a typically more lenient income requirements. Credit unions often have lower fees and rates than other lenders as they are predominantly non-profit.  The downside to going through a credit union is that you have to be a member to borrow.

    What credit is needed to get a mortgage?

    Credit score is a huge factor for getting a mortgage or refinance and a 620 is generally looked at as the lowest acceptable FICO score for a conventional mortgage.  If your credit score has improved since you originally got your mortgage, you might consider refinancing as you have the potential to save on your monthly payments by getting a lower monthly payment.  

    How much does it cost to refinance mortgage?

    Here is a good list of additional costs you can may incur throughout the mortgage refinance process:

    • Appraisal fee
    • Home Inspection
    • Flood determination assessment
    • Application fee:
    • Credit report fee
    • Origination fee
    • Attorney fees
    • Mortgage broker fee
    • Prepaid interest
    • Discount points
    • Lender’s policy title insurance
    • Owner’s policy title insurance

    When does it make sense to refinance a mortgage?

    • To get a lower interest rate
      • To lower your monthly payment or pay less over the course of the loan
    • To shorten the loan term
      • To pay off your loan sooner
    • To change the loan types
      • Moving from an FHA loan to a conventional loan to remove mortgage insurance premiums
    • To change rate types
      • Avoiding higher interest rates before the end of the intro period
    • To take cash from your home equity
      • To pay for home improvements or consolidate your debt
    • To update a borrower
      • To add or remove a borrower based on a life event such as divorce or marriage

    How long does it take to refinance a mortgage?

    The process itself typically takes 30 to 45 days on average, though it can take up to 60 days in some instances.  Below are all the steps that go into the refinance process: 

    • Preapproval
      • Finding out how much you can borrow through a conditional, non-binding offer from a lender
    • Application
      • Filling out a loan application that includes basic information such as:
        • Name
        • Address
        • Employer Name
        • Your Annual income
        • SSN
        • Property address (if different from your primary address)
        • Type of home (single-family, multi-family, condo, etc.)
        • Estimated property value
        • Any HOA fees 
        • Total loan amount that you requested
    • Verified Documentation
      • With your application, you will need additional documents to verify your application such as:
        • Identity
        • Assets
        • Employment status
        • Income statements 
    • Loan estimate
      • Lenders are required to give you an estimate of what your loan might cost upon verification of your loan application details.  This is to be provided within 3 business days of receiving this application. 
    • Processing
      • A mortgage processor will order the following:
        • Credit report
        • Appraisal
        • Report on the title
    • Home Appraisal
      • A professional appraiser will estimate the value of the property you are refinancing.  Some of the factors taken into account are the following:
        • Square Foot of Lot
        • Location
        • Amenities
        • Physical Condition
    • Underwriting
      • An underwriter determines if the loan is accepted 
    • Closing disclosure 
      • Your lender is required to give you a closing disclosure within 3 business days of finalizing your loan.  This details the terms of your mortgage and includes:
        • Projected monthly payments
        • Closing costs
        • Loan term
    • Closing
      • You will sign the legally binding documents that make the mortgage official

    Who should I refinance my mortgage with?

    Typically, to find the best mortgage lender you should compare multiple options that suit your financial situation.  Below are some factors you should consider as you go through the process of comparing lenders:

    • What are the financing options that the lender is offering?
    • What type of interest rates is the lender offering and are they competitive?
    • Are the closing costs reasonable compared to other lenders?
    • How is their customer service rating?

    Are mortgage refinance costs tax deductible?

    You can save money on your taxes by deducting some of the costs incurred during refinancing.  These costs include the following:

    • Mortgage Interest
      • You are able to deduct all mortgage interest you paid on the first $1 million of your home loan and interest paid on home equity or home improvement loans up to $100,000
    • Property Taxes
      • If you paid money toward property taxes at the closing of the refinance, you can deduct the amount you paid on your income tax return for that year.
    • Points
      • You can deduct any points you pay to lower your mortgage interest rate from your taxable income.  With refinancing, you will need to be sure to divide the points evenly over the loan term. For instance, if you paid $3,000 toward points on a 30 year loan, you can only deduct $100/year following your refinance.

    So…When Is Refinancing Not a Good Idea?

    A mortgage refinance is great for all the reasons outlined above, but there are times when it may be better to avoid refinancing and keep your current loan:

    • You’ve already paid most of the interest off and are building equity in your home
    • If there is a big prepayment penalty on your current mortgage
    • If the amount you will save is not as much as the fees you will pay to refinance
    • If you are looking to sell your home in the next few years (before you break even on the cost of refinancing)

      Additional Mortgage Refinance FAQs

      What are loan terms?

      Mortgage loan terms are the amount of time in which a borrower makes monthly payments toward a home loan with most being paid off in 15 or 30 years.  There are, however, other loan terms available. A rule of thumb is that borrowers will get a 15 year mortgage if they want to pay less in interest over the life of the loan and those that get a 30 year mortgage are looking for lower monthly payments.

      What are interest rates?

      Interest rates on mortgages are fixed or adjustable.  Fixed-rate loans allow you to pay the same interest rate through the life of the loan, so even if interest rates increase, your payment remains the same.  Adjustable-rate mortgages have an interest rates that changes with a benchmark rate like the prime rate. With an adjustable-rate, an intro interest rate is set for a period of time, after which the interest rate can go up or down. 

      What is debt-to-income ratio?

      This is the ratio of your monthly income divided by your monthly debt payments that includes the mortgage itself.  Typically, conventional loans can be approved with a DTI up to 49%.

      What is the best interest rate you can get for a mortgage?

      You need to factor in your debt-to-income ratio, your credit score, down payment and the loan size to truly understand what type of interest rate you can get.  You can also get lower interest rates by paying upfront for discount points that cost 1% of your total loan amount.

      What are mortgage points?

      These points allow you to pay an upfront fee to reduce your interest rate.  The more you pay upfront, the lower your monthly payments. These points are different than a down payment in that the down payment is applied to the principal whereas the points apply to the interest.  A down payment builds equity in your home while mortgage points don’t help you build equity, but helps with your monthly expenses.

      What is a rate lock?

      When you are approved for a mortgage or refinance, the lender will give you the option to lock in your interest rate at the time of your application.  This will ensure that if rates rise between the time of approval and the final underwriting, you will keep that rate. Sometimes you may have to pay a fee to lock your rate, but this depends on the lender.

      What is private mortgage insurance?

      Private Mortgage Insurance protects the borrower from liability if they fail to make payments.  Many lenders will require this if the borrower’s down payment is less than 20%. An FHA loan is a way to get around paying for PMI, as this only requires a 3.5% down payment.

      Do pre-approvals affect your credit score?

      A hard pull of your credit score does cause your score to dip a few points, but is required for pre-approval.  However, if you are shopping for a mortgage and more than one lender makes this hard inquiry within 45 days, they know you are looking for the best rate and the inquiries only count as a singular pull.

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      How is our ranking calculated:
      The scoring is determined at our own discretion and should not be considered an endorsement (express or implied). The information and vendors which appear on this site is subject to change at any time. To the extent that ratings appear on this site, such rating is determined by our subjective opinion and based on a methodology that aggregates a number of factors, including but not limited to, our analysis of brand market share and reputation, each brand’s consumer volume, compensation paid to us, and general consumer interest. Quicken Loans is featured as Editor’s Choice and Best Overall since, for 9 years in a row, J.D. Power has ranked Quicken Loans highest in the nation in customer satisfaction for Primary Mortgage Origination, and for the sixth year in a row, they ranked Quicken Loans as highest in the nation for Mortgage Servicing.