What Is a Mortgage Refinance?

Jan 3, 2023 | Mortgage Guides

A Home Owner’s Guide on How to Refinance 

Are you thinking about refinancing your home loan? Refinancing can be a great way to lower your mortgage payments and save money. The refinancing process can be complicated even for those who have already been through the home-buying process.

‍This guide will provide a complete overview of the process, from understanding the basics to selecting the right lender, and tips to help you make the best decision. Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned homeowner, the information below can help you refinance your loan successfully.

The Basics of a Mortgage Refinance

Refinancing is a process that enables homeowners to replace their current mortgage with a new one, usually with a lower interest rate or different terms. It can be a great way to cut down monthly mortgage payments, combine debt, access home equity, or switch from an adjustable to a fixed-rate mortgage. Refinancing can be a wise financial choice, but it is essential to comprehend all the details and potential costs before making a final decision.‍

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Home Loan Refinance Lenders

When refinancing a mortgage, it is advisable to obtain multiple quotes from different lenders to obtain the best rates. Consider the costs and discounts associated with the loan to get the best deal. Many lenders do not make their fees and rates public online, so you may need to contact them directly. To find out how much a refinanced loan will cost, apply with multiple lenders and get customized estimates based on your financial information.

‍It is essential to obtain multiple loan quotes to find the lowest rate. Negotiating with lenders will help to secure the best rate and reduce fees. Ask about discounts like appraisal waivers or bank rebates. Additionally, military discounts may be available.

‍If you’re satisfied with your current lender, you can refinance with them if they provide a competitive rate. Nonetheless, you should still check out other options. Before you sign, make sure you comprehend the new mortgage’s terms and conditions. Economic conditions such as inflation, employment, and the borrower’s financial standing can impact refinancing rates.

What Are the Requirements to Refinance?

To be eligible for a mortgage refinance, homeowners must meet specific criteria determined by their lender and loan program. These criteria are usually similar to those needed for a home purchase, including good credit history, financial standing, and evidence of enough income. Moreover, a home equity assessment must be conducted to qualify for a refinance. ‍

Before applying for a refinance loan, be sure to meet the following prerequisites:

Credit Score

A good credit score is essential when refinancing a mortgage, just as when buying a home. Higher credit scores result in lower interest rates, with conventional mortgages requiring a credit score of at least 620 and government-backed refinances requiring a minimum score of 500. Ultimately, the lender has the final say in determining creditworthiness.

Home Equity

The importance of having high home equity when refinancing is undeniable. Lenders find it attractive because it serves as collateral for their investment. Paying off a significant portion of your previous mortgage and having equity as insurance will lead to lower rates and fees. You may have to wait to refinance if you do not have sufficient equity. In the meantime, make more significant payments on your mortgage and invest in home improvements to boost your home’s value and equity.‍

Financial Qualifications

To be eligible for refinancing, borrowers must demonstrate a consistent and suitable income for the loan amount. If your income is the same or higher than it was when you first took out the loan, and your debt has decreased, you should have no trouble getting approved. As with your original home loan, lenders require your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio to be 43% or lower for a refinance.

‍Lenders also evaluate risk by calculating the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio, the ratio between the outstanding loan balance and the property’s current market value. Companies that refinance mortgages may require a minimum home equity of 20% and an LTV of up to 80%.‍

Proof Of Documentation

Lenders often request the same information when refinancing a mortgage as when initially buying a home. That includes providing documents for proof of income, credit verification, insurance information, and debt and asset statements. Additional documentation may be required in some scenarios, such as for married and self-employed individuals. ‍

Examples of documents a lender may ask for when refinancing include:

  • Two most recent pay stubs
  • Two most recent bank statements
  • Two most recent W-2s and/or 1099s
  • Copy of homeowners insurance policy

Mortgage Refinance Rates

Mortgage refinance rates can be impacted by creditworthiness, Loan-to-Value (LTV) rate, loan terms, and macroeconomic conditions. Lower interest rates are more cost-effective, so it is recommended that borrowers compare multiple lenders to find the best offer for their requirements.

‍When considering refinancing, borrowers should factor in the total cost, including closing costs and other fees. To ensure the best savings and lowest financial burden, borrowers should assess their current mortgage rate, long-term objectives, and financial plan before making a decision.


Interest rates are an essential factor when considering refinancing a mortgage. These rates can vary depending on the lender and mortgage loan product. Before refinancing, homeowners should compare mortgage refinance interest rates from different lenders to find the lowest rate and best terms. Knowing the current market rates, researching loan products, and understanding the costs associated with the refinance can help homeowners save money and make an informed decision.‍


The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) of a mortgage refinance is the interest rate charged over the course of a year, which includes the cost of origination fees, closing costs, and other costs associated with the loan. The APR helps borrowers compare different loans by considering the total cost of the loan over its lifetime. Borrowers should research other lenders to find the best APR for their mortgage refinances. In addition, it is helpful to talk with a financial advisor to understand the benefits and risks associated with mortgage refinancing.‍


When considering a mortgage refinance, it is necessary to understand that there are fees often charged to cover the lender’s costs associated with the loan. These fees may cover title searches, processing, and document preparation. Depending on the lender and loan, these fees can vary and may include an application fee, appraisal fee, origination fee, underwriting fee, credit report fee, and other miscellaneous fees. Knowing the total cost of a loan, including these fees, is essential in determining the best option for a refinance.


Mortgage points are fees a borrower pays to reduce their loan’s interest rate and monthly payments, essentially “buying down the rate.” These points are paid upfront, either in cash or as a higher principal balance, and can result in significant savings over the life of the loan. The amount of points needed to reduce the rate varies depending on the market and lender, so borrowers should shop around for the best deal. Borrowers should also consider the closing costs associated with the points to determine if the savings outweigh the upfront costs.‍

How Much Does It Cost to Refinance a Mortgage? 

The cost of refinancing a mortgage can vary significantly based on the loan type, interest rate, lender fees, title search fees, appraisal fees, and other expenses related to replacing an old loan with a new loan. The cost can range from two to five percent of the total loan amount. However, getting a specific quote from a lender is best to better prepare for an exact figure and to help you decide if a refinance is right for you.

Closing Costs

Closing costs are the expenses associated with completing a mortgage refinance transaction. That includes various fees such as appraisal fees, title search fees, title insurance fees, recording fees, credit report fees, and other miscellaneous charges. Closing costs can also include prepaid items such as property taxes, homeowners insurance, and mortgage interest.

‍On average, closing costs for a mortgage refinance range from 2 to 5 percent of the loan amount, but the exact amount can vary depending on the lender and the specific details of the loan. It is essential to review and compare the closing costs and fees offered by different lenders before choosing a refinance option.

Origination Fees

Origination fees are charges assessed by lenders for processing and underwriting mortgage refinance loans. They cover the cost of processing the loan application, reviewing credit reports and appraisals, and other tasks involved in originating a loan. Origination fees often range from 0.5 to 1 percent of the loan amount but vary based on the lender and loan type.‍

Other origination charges may appear on the loan estimate and closing disclosure if mortgage points are prepaid. Remember to compare these fees and interest rates that different lenders offer to find the best refinance option.

Appraisal Fees

Appraisal fees are charges assessed by a professional appraiser to determine the current market value of a property being refinanced. Lenders use an appraisal to ensure the property is sufficient collateral for the refinance loan. Appraisal fees typically range from $300 to $800, depending on the appraised location, size, and property type.

‍Other factors that can influence the cost of a refinance appraisal include the type of appraisal, the complexity of the property, and the time frame for completing the assessment. It is crucial to consider the cost of the appraisal when evaluating the overall cost of a mortgage refinance.

Home Owner's Guide to Refinancing | Wesley Mortgage

Mortgage Refinance Calculator

A mortgage refinance calculator is an online tool that helps homeowners determine whether refinancing their mortgage is financially viable. This calculator requires input such as the current mortgage balance, the current interest rate, the new interest rate being considered, and other financial information. 

‍Based on this information, the calculator estimates the monthly payments, total interest paid, and potential savings that can be achieved by refinancing the mortgage. The results generated by a mortgage refinance calculator are only an estimate and not a guarantee. The actual costs and benefits of refinancing can vary depending on the lender, the specific details of the loan, and other factors. It is always advisable to consult with a financial advisor or lender before deciding to refinance a mortgage.

The Process of Refinancing a Home Loan

The first step in mortgage refinancing is to determine your goal. Knowing the exact purpose will help you evaluate what lender to choose, what loan type you want, and when it is best to refinance. A few of the most common examples of refinancing include:‍

  • Removing PMI: PMI is a tool lenders use for home buyers who cannot pay the 20% downpayment on a conventional mortgage. Often, PMI has a deadline; however, if your qualifications have changed before the life of your PMI is up, consider refinancing to eliminate the hefty payment of PMI early.
  • Lowering interest rates: Many homeowners pay high interest rates, whether due to choosing the improper lender, buying when the market was hot, or a multitude of other reasons. Even by as little as one percent, lowering the interest is an excellent reason to refinance.
  • Accessing home equity: Refinancing allows access to your home equity to pay off debts, remodel the home, pursue further education, pay off a car, or start a business. Some homeowners do not know how to access equity. Read our guide on home equity loans to learn more about how to use this asset.
  • Converting mortgage types: Borrowers may consider refinancing to switch mortgage types depending on the financial situation and market trends. Maybe convert to a fixed-rate mortgage because you can get consistent rates, or take the riskier approach and apply for an adjustable rate.
  • Revising the length of the loan: While a 30-year mortgage is acceptable for many households, there may come a time when you wish to lower the term to a 15 or 20-year mortgage to pay less interest over the life of the loan. On the other hand, if your income gets reduced, you may wish to extend the mortgage for a lower monthly payment.‍


When applying for a mortgage refinance, homeowners have several factors to consider. Lenders will evaluate the amount of home equity, credit scores, income standing, and other factors to assess the risk of the new loan. The following are the steps to take to apply for a mortgage refinance:‍

  • Review your credit report
  • Calculate your home equity
  • Find a suitable lender
  • Obtain the proper documents
  • Schedule an appraisal


A lender evaluates an applicant’s credit score, income, and assets to determine if they qualify for an approved mortgage refinance. Current market interest rates and the property’s value are also considered.

‍If approved, a new loan is provided to pay off the applicant’s existing mortgage. The applicant is then responsible for making payments on the new loan. This process can take up to several weeks to complete.


During the closing phase of mortgage refinances, borrowers will finalize their new mortgage loan details and complete the required paperwork. That includes signing a promissory note, a legal agreement to repay the loan, and a mortgage or deed of trust, which gives the lender an interest in the property.

‍At the end of the refinancing process, the borrower must pay closing costs, including lender fees, title insurance, appraisal fees, and more. After all the paperwork is finalized and the expenses get settled, the lender will release the funds to pay off the old loan. The refinance is then complete, and the borrower can begin making payments for their new mortgage.

What Are the Benefits of Refinancing?

Refinancing a home loan involves obtaining a new mortgage that offers better terms and conditions than the existing one. Doing so can be a wise financial move for many as it can help save money both in the short and long run. A few reasons to consider refinancing are:‍

Lower Mortgage Payment

Many homeowners choose to refinance to reduce their monthly payment responsibility. That can be achieved in a few different ways. One option is to extend the loan term, which will spread out the monthly payments, thus lowering them. Another option is to refinance after attaining 20 percent equity, eliminating the need for private mortgage insurance (PMI).‍

Access to Equity

Homeowners often choose to refinance their mortgage to help cover the exorbitant costs of home improvements and repairs. Refinancing into a home loan with a higher balance than the current mortgage allows borrowers to access their built-up home equity to receive the difference in cash to spend on such renovations.  ‍

Reduce Interest Rate

Refinancing a home loan can result in a lower interest rate, which leads to a lower monthly mortgage payment. That can help borrowers build home equity faster while saving money. Mortgage rates may have decreased market-wide, or your creditworthiness may have improved; either way, refinancing at a reduced rate is a beneficial financial decision.‍

What Are the Tax Implications of Mortgage Refinancing?

Refinancing may impact your taxes, depending on how you file them. Most often, your mortgage will only be reflected in your taxes if you itemize deductions. If you use a conventional rate-and-term refinance, tax implications are rare. However, with a cash-out refinance, there could be; alas, you will not get taxed on the equity you withdrew. Everyone’s circumstances are different.

‍Note that Wesley Mortgage is not a tax-related website. The information provided here is meant to serve as a general guide only. It is recommended that you speak with a tax specialist regarding your individual needs.‍

Deductible Interest

The most significant tax deduction for a mortgage—whether it’s the first or refinanced—is often the interest paid on the loan. For some borrowers, mortgage interest is tax deductible. It can be subtracted from your income for a primary or secondary home as long as it is not a rental property. To calculate your mortgage interest deduction, divide the maximum debt limit by your remaining loan balance, then multiply that by the interest paid.‍

Capital Gains

Many homeowners look to avoid a large capital gains tax bill when selling a property. One way to achieve this is through a cash-out refinance. Since this type of refinance is treated as a loan by the IRS, the equity funds obtained through it are not considered income or capital gains. Note that this type of refinance may affect the cash flow and net income yielded from the refinanced property.‍

What Are Alternatives to Refinancing?

Exploring alternatives to refinancing, such as home equity loans and lines of credit, can help homeowners reduce their monthly payments and/or access additional funds. Specific options, such as reverse mortgages, are designed for certain groups. Learn more about how these options can help you reduce monthly payments and manage debt.

Home Equity Loan

Home equity loans, also known as home equity installment loans or second mortgages, are another type of consumer debt. Eligible homeowners can borrow against the equity of their property. The loan amount is calculated by taking the home’s current market value and subtracting the mortgage balance. There are two varieties of home equity loans: fixed-rate loans and Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs). Fixed-rate home equity loans provide a single lump sum, while HELOCs provide borrowers with access to a revolving line of credit.

Cash Out Refinance

A cash-out refinance is a mortgage refinancing option that enables borrowers to receive cash from their home equity. This type of refinance replaces an existing mortgage loan with a new one with a higher amount than the original. Cash-out refinances are usually associated with higher interest rates than rate-and-term refinances, which keep the initial mortgage amount constant. Lenders consider the borrower’s bank standards, the property’s loan-to-value (LTV) ratio, and the borrower’s credit profile to decide the amount of cash that can be extracted through this refinancing option.

Reverse Mortgage

Reverse mortgages are home loans designed for individuals aged 62 and older. These loans allow homeowners to access the equity in their home and turn it into cash income without having to make monthly mortgage payments. It is essential to be informed about how reverse mortgages work and their impacts on you and your family before deciding if it is the right choice for you.


Refinancing a mortgage can be a tricky process. Comparing rates, understanding the different types of loans, and making a decision can be stressful. However, a refinance can often be worthwhile if you plan to keep your current house past the break-even point.

If you have questions or concerns about refinancing, Wesley Mortgage experts are just a call away and can help simplify the process.

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