You face an uphill climb in finding a refinance loan if your mortgage balance is greater than the value of your home. Most lenders will not offer you a loan for more than 100% of the value of you property. (Editor’s Note: President Obama announced changes to the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) that will help millions of underwater homeowners refinance at today’s low rates. If your loan is owned or insured by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, you can get a HARP mortgage, no matter how fall the value of your home has fallen. The program will go into effect in late 2011.)
Before we discuss your options, let us pause for a moment to define two terms some Bills.com readers misunderstand. Mortgage lenders, like other professionals, use acronyms and jargon to express specific ideas. In the mortgage world, the relationship between the loan amount and the value of the property is known as the Loan to Value, or LTV. For example, if your loan is for $80,000 on a $100,000 home, your loan-to-value would be 80,000 divided by 100,000 or 80%. Mortgage experts would say, "The LTV on this property is 80%." Equity is another other way to express this idea. In this example, the homeowner has 20% equity in the home, or $20,000 of equity value.
Here is the bad news: Generally speaking, private lenders do not refinance when the LTV is greater than 80%. The good news: You may qualify for an FHA-backed refinance if your LTV is between 80 and 96.5%. If your LTV is above 100%, then you may qualify for an FHA Short Refinance. Refinancing when an LTV is greater than 100% is known as an underwater refinance. Government programs will allow homeowners to refinance a 120 percent mortgage.
Another alternative is the Home Affordable Refinance Program.
The only way to determine if you qualify for a refinance loan is to apply for a loan with several different lenders or brokers. Bills.com makes it easy to compare mortgage offers and different loan types. Visit the Bills.com refinance page and find a loan that meets your needs.
Not only will these mortgage professionals tell you whether you qualify, but if you do not qualify, they can tell you what aspects of your financial situation are causing you problems, and make suggestions about how to improve your chances of qualifying for a loan. If you would like to read more about mortgage refinance loans, I encourage you to visit the Bills.com Home Refinance Resources page.