September 20, 2021
How to refinance your mortgage during the coronavirus pandemic

Tips on how to refinance your mortgage through the coronavirus pandemic

Curt Pickens | Getty Pictures

The girl who approached our doorstep Monday morning was carrying a masks, her eyes doing their finest to smile a greeting. She was hugging a folder and a bundle of papers.

I held the door open for her however did not lengthen my hand for her to shake. Nor did she, as she launched herself.

“This should be so bizarre for you,” I stated. My voice felt muffled by the fabric masking a lot of my very own face.

A mortgage closing agent, she was at our home so I may signal the numerous paperwork wanted to wrap up refinancing our mortgage. I had utilized a lifetime in the past — Feb. 27 — through Quicken Mortgage’s Rocket Mortgage. Precisely two months after my utility, the method was coming to an finish in a coronavirus-esque means: Masks on, additional house between the agent and me. 

Whereas I frightened periodically over the past 60 days that the nation’s financial woes or lenders’ tighter requirements would in some way upend a four-year-long aim of refinancing our privately held mortgage, it did not go down that means.

Closing was profitable (extra on that farther under). And I am glad the refinance is lastly accomplished — my husband and I’ll save practically $450 a month.

The method was stretched out attributable to some hiccups alongside the best way, together with the problem of getting paperwork and data from our non-public mortgage holder, who had not too long ago moved abroad.

Additionally surprising: My employment was reconfirmed shortly earlier than closing. Invoice Banfield, Quicken’s government vp of capital markets, advised me that is because of the present financial atmosphere.

Each lender, together with us, desires to assist folks reap the benefits of as we speak’s low charges, however we have to validate as near closing as attainable that persons are nonetheless employed.

Invoice Banfield

government vp of capital markets for Quicken Loans

“We have had 26 million folks file for unemployment over 5 weeks,” Banfield stated. “Each lender, together with us, desires to assist folks reap the benefits of as we speak’s low charges, however we have to validate as near closing as attainable that persons are nonetheless employed.”

(Observe: I selected Quicken randomly from an inventory of on-line mortgage lenders resembling SoFi or Financial institution of America. And, nobody at Quicken knew I used to be planning to put in writing about my expertise. Banfield and I spoke a number of days after the mortgage closed.)

I additionally bumped into another issues which can be price sharing with anybody who explores an internet mortgage or refinance.

Know your credit score rating

There are websites that allow you to enter your credit score rating to see what kind of refinancing phrases chances are you’ll qualify for. Nevertheless, until you enter your “traditional” FICO rating — which most mortgage lenders use of their decision-making — the output could probably not be relevant to you.

Usually talking, the rating tracked by many shoppers isn’t that traditional FICO rating. This implies there may very well be a distinction between the rating you comply with and the one utilized by your lender. Whereas I’ve identified about this phenomenon, I did not know whether or not I would see a giant disparity.

In my case, my VantageScore (obtainable on Credit score Karma) was approaching 800. The precise rating pulled by Quicken was simply shy of 750. Whereas I can not say with certainty how a lot it affected the phrases of my refinance supply from Quicken, wonderful credit score scores — 760 or larger for mortgages — sometimes snag the perfect affords. We locked in at 3.5%, though we additionally paid two low cost factors to take action (one level is the same as 1% of the mortgage).

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Moreover, if you begin the appliance course of, the lender will ask to make a tough inquiry in your credit score report. That motion could damage your rating quickly. The excellent news, although, is that you simply get 10 days to use for higher phrases elsewhere with out extra inquiries dinging your rating additional.

I didn’t see higher affords elsewhere — as well as, the U.S. was starting its slide into financial uncertainty and I used to be terrified of beginning the method over — so I caught with Quicken.

Dig up paperwork

The quicker you possibly can present your new lender with all of the paperwork requested, the quicker you possibly can go to closing, even in these odd occasions.

The 60 days that it took for my mortgage to shut is uncommon, Banfield stated. “When you give us the paperwork we want, it is taking a median of 27 days,” he stated. “And 35% of refis are occurring in lower than 15 days.”

The paperwork Quicken requested for included my two most up-to-date pay stubs, a replica of my owners insurance coverage declarations web page, my 2019 and 2018 W-2s (which reveals earnings I earned from my employer), in addition to proof of 1 yr’s price of funds to my present lender.

Beware PMI

Usually talking, you may pay non-public mortgage insurance coverage, or PMI, on loans which can be for greater than 80% of the house’s worth. When you have got at the very least 20% fairness within the dwelling primarily based on its then-current worth, you possibly can cease paying PMI.

As a result of a barely lower-than-anticipated appraisal on our dwelling and a miscalculation on my half about rolling closing prices into the brand new mortgage, we have now to pay about $16 a month in PMI. Closing paperwork present that we’ll be capable of ask in December for that price to be canceled, so long as we get one other appraisal (which is able to price cash) and it comes again exhibiting at the very least the identical worth used for the refinance.

In some instances, relying on how lengthy that PMI is anticipated to final, you could possibly prepay it at closing and keep away from the method of getting it eliminated down the street, stated Al Bingham, a credit score skilled and mortgage mortgage officer with Momentum Loans in Sandy, Utah.

“See if you should buy it out,” Bingham stated. “Relying on the month-to-month price versus the one-time price, it would make sense to do this.”


Each time I communicated with Quicken with a query about my refi, a response was supplied pretty shortly. Nevertheless, it was a special particular person responding every time. This did not trouble me, usually talking. For those who’re relying on some relationship-building, nonetheless, do not go the net route.

I additionally most popular to speak through e mail as a substitute of telephone so I may keep away from a name that may very well be time-consuming or ill-timed. And, apart from maybe some miscommunication errors, this technique suited me.


Relying on the place you reside, you could possibly do some or all components of closing on-line, stated Banfield at Quicken. In some states, although, holding any sort of closing in any respect could also be tougher attributable to coronavirus-related shutdowns.

In my case, all paperwork have been signed in particular person, at my kitchen desk. Each the closing agent and I remained masked via the method, as we went via the pages and I signed or initialed the place required.

I had obtained an digital copy of the closing paperwork, so the day before today I appeared via them, intently studying sure components to ensure I knew what to anticipate. (It is also the place I realized concerning the course of concerned to do away with PMI in December.) 

As soon as all of the paperwork have been signed, the agent gathered her issues. When she reached the door, I seen she had a disinfectant wipe in her hand. I watched her fastidiously flip the knob and pull open the door.

And out of the blue I thought of how not simply “bizarre” it should be for her — my preliminary response when she first arrived — however downright scary.

As she went via the doorway, I advised her I appreciated her willingness to proceed working via the coronavirus pandemic and doing her half to maintain all the things shifting. That I can solely think about how laborious it should be for her and her friends.

She appeared genuinely appreciative. We chatted via our masks from at the very least 10 ft aside for a second longer, the chirping birds seemingly detached to the unusual human interplay of their midst.

Though the agent and I had sat throughout from one another for about half-hour on the desk, I am not satisfied we would acknowledge one another if we have been ever to cross paths once more.

After she left, I took off my masks and washed my fingers. Then I went to share the excellent news with my husband: We lastly had efficiently refinanced, regardless of Covid-19.

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