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5 Pitfalls of Home Refinancing

With mortgage rates hovering near record lows, a growing number of homeowners are racing to refinance — only to find the process riddled with obstacles.


For one, homeowners often have to wait months before they can secure a new loan at a lower rate, the Wall Street Journal reported today. But on top of that, credit requirements remain tight, so borrowers approved for mortgages before the downturn might not pass muster now. And even those who do get approved often find their homes do not appraise above the minimum threshold. “You have these big wildcards out there right now — you can’t simply look at the lower rate,” says Robert Lattas, a real estate attorney in Chicago.

Of course, refinancing may be worth all the hassle, say advisers. The new loans mean smaller monthly payments — a godsend for homeowners struggling to make their current payments. And the latest version of the government’s refinancing program, dubbed HARP 2.0, aims to help homeowners who owe more on their home than it’s currently worth.

Despite those benefits, experts say homeowners should first consider the drawbacks. Refinancing tends to extend the mortgage payment period, so a borrower who stays put in the home for the long run could be stuck with their mortgage well into retirement, says Doug Miller, executive director of Consumer Advocates in American Real Estate. Separately, homeowners who plan to sell their home a few years after refinancing might find the costs of getting the new loan outweighs the savings.

That said, for those determined to refinance, here are the five things financial advisers say to weigh first.




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    • actually, one would most likely save more than the $178 per month because they will have paid down some of the principal. You don’t have a 300,000 mortgage for 5 yrs and then refinance another 300,000 unless you want to take money out (good luck finding one of those these days!). After paying on a loan for half that amount for around 5-6 yrs it cut my monthly payments by $300 when the rate dropped by one point. Best thing to do is sit down with an honest broker and see what they can do for your individual situation.

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