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Rush to refinance: Companies scramble to keep up

Posted April 22, 2009

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— Federal incentives and low interest rates are helping boost home sales. However, the reduced rates are also creating a rush to refinance.

Refinancing pushes mortgage applications higher Refinancing pushes mortgage applications up

“When rates started dropping, I was calling her every couple of weeks and saying, 'OK where are they now, where are they now?'” homeowner Rhonda Matney said.

Matney's persistence paid off and her home loan payment got dropped by almost $200 a month. However, getting her new rate locked in took much longer than she expected. That is because so many people are trying to do the same thing.

“Our phones are ringing off the hooks right now for people who want to refinance,” mortgage consultant Sharon Whitlatch said.

Rates on 30-year mortgages remain near the lowest level in decades, allowing borrowers with good credit and stable jobs to refinance. Mortgage lenders say with all the new activity, they are getting backlogged.

“Many of the different mortgage lenders and representatives had laid off a fair amount of people when the market was slow last year. So when the rates dropped ... they just couldn't hire on enough people quick enough to get loans processed,” Whitlatch said.

Instead of taking about 30 days to close, Whitlatch said the time frame is now closer to 60 days.

“One of our hold ups was actually getting one of the appraisers out because he had so many appraisals he had to get done,” Matney said.

However, there are steps you can take to make the refinancing process easier. In addition to your loan information, mortgage consultants say you should have on hand last year's W-2 tax form, 30 days worth of paycheck stubs, retirement account information and your last bank statement.

“If you have all of those documents with you when you come in, it's going to expedite the process by about 10 days,” Whitlatch said.

If you are struggling to pay your mortgage or are behind on your payments, you may qualify for the federal refinancing program.

However, mortgage specialists warn to also be on the look out for scams. Never pay money up front to a company that offers refinancing help.


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