Tuesday, March 31, 2009

If you didn't refinance yet.............

If you did not yet refinance, and conditions have been such that you would have benefitted in some way, you need to keep some changes in mind if and as you revisit the possibility in the weeks to come.

Fannie and Freddie have added what they call "loan level price adjustments" which take effect on April 1st - no fooling. It looks like the only way to avoid these extra fees is to have a FICO score of at least 740, and that isn't easy in today's economic client.

Yet, it could depend on which lender you would use. It is believed that some lenders (and we don't know how many or how few) already have incorporated these "extra" fees into their costs during the first quarter. While doing so likely cost some borrowers more than it should have, this does mean it is possible that a quote of costs you may have recently received could include these figures.

Thus, if you are planning on contacting one or more lenders about doing a re-fi in the near future, please clarify about the impact on these additional fees. If it could cost you a few hundred dollars more than you anticipated to get a re-fi done, factor it out against your total and actual monthly savings.

I have also heard about some lenders increasing their underwriting and processing fees by as much as $300 to $400. On one hand, I can understand this because many lenders have to work harder to put loans through because of the new credit concerns and restrictions. But on the other hand, the lenders need these loans in order to survive and a reduced profit is a lot better than none at all.

My point is that if the new costs and additional fees were to, for example, result in an additional $1,200 cost, you could look at it that it is really costing you an "additional" $100 per month over the first year. If you are refinancing to save, say, $150 per month, your savings would really be equal to $50 per month for your first year. Is it really worth it?

On the other hand, I have heard too many "I'm going to wait and see what happens" stories from both consumers and lenders over the past few weeks. My fear is that too many people will wait an additional 6 months or so to refinance to THEN start saving a couple hundred dollars per month. But in waiting, they paid the "extra" $200 per month (total $1,200 using this example). Add another $1,200 for the additional fees just described, and a borrower could, in effect, have paid $2,400 more because they waited. Probably not enough to offset the lower rate they waited for.

By all means, check with different lenders and examine everything you are being quoted.

If you are lender, be sure you explain the new fees and their impact on potential borrowers so that you don't leave them disappointed. If you are a realty agent, you might wish to help your client consider the merits of refinancing vs. a downsize or lateral move for greater monthly savings in this economy. Doing that could produce either an immediate or long term sale for you.

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