I often get asked, “Why can’t I refinance? I make my payments now”. Rates are still very, very low by any measure. Even though they have gone up some in the past few months, rates are low. We went through a refinance boom in 2010. But there are still plenty of people who want to refinance. Many of them can, and some cannot. Why can’t they?
If I’m saving money what’s the problem?
There is a common comment I hear when I talk to someone who wants to refinance who cannot qualify. I hear, “I will save money by refinancing. I am paying the higher payments now. So why won’t the bank let me refinance to a lower payment?” It’s simple. A bank is analyzing what it sees as new risk and a new loan. Why should this bank take on a new loan when they think there is repayment risk? Even if it benefits the borrower, the bank won’t do the loan unless it meets all guidelines.
What if I refinance with my current lender?
Why can’t I refinance? I make my payments now to my current lender? Even if it’s the same bank that has the loan now that you are talking to about a refinance, it may be a problem. If they see an unqualified borrower they cannot approve the loan if it does not meet Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac standards. Without meeting Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac standards they’d have an unsalable loan on their hands. If you cannot sell a loan into the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac secondary market there is no point in doing the loan. Very few banks hold their own loans, most banks sell their loans. Almost all loans are sold off as mortgage backed securities in the secondary market.
Some clients who want to refinance are stunned they cannot do so in the below scenarios:
-they do not currently have a job.
-debt ratios are too high.
-credit scores are sub par.
-the house does not appraise to show any equity.
All these scenarios are a shame, and these are the people that really need to save money. However, the bank’s position will be, “why should we take on this new risk and take the risk off of the hands of some other bank that currently has it.”
I had a potential client who stated, “Please understand that the house is worth $1,000,000 approximately and that I am asking to refinance a mortgage for $215,000. If this has to become an aggravation for me in terms of documents, statements, questions, etc. I’d rather stay with my current mortgage.”
He got his wish. He had been self employed for only 1 year and did not want to answer any questions at all about his assets, credit or income. And the bottom line is that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac require a borrower to be self-employed for at least 2 years before they’ll even consider your income in qualifying for a mortgage. When he had bought his home he was salaried, but later started his own business. When he contacted me to refinance he only had 1 year under his belt in his new company, and did not want to answer any questions nor provide documents about his income.
His statement, which I have heard numerous times before, was, “I am making a higher payment now, of course I’ll make the lower payment, what does the rest matter?” Well, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac says, “the rest matters”. And whomever holds the gold makes the rules.
Unfortunately banks and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have gone from closing their eyes when making loans in the boom times between 1998-2006, and now underwrite mortgage loans with incredible scrutiny. In fact, it is not going out on a limb to say they use way too much scrutiny. But I will side with the banks on this one and agree that if someone is unqualified, and appears to be a repayment risk, why should they make the loan?