July 18th, 2019 11:58 AM by Jackie A. Graves
have fallen to near historic lows,
giving millions of homeowners a shot at saving money by refinancing. For VA
home loan borrowers, the VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loan (IRRRL) is
designed to help borrowers lower rates, which can shave off thousands from the
total loan amount.
“The VA IRRRL
is an ideal option for someone whose current VA loan has a higher rate than
what is currently available. If you’ve made progress on the principal of your
loan, refinancing can also help you save money in your monthly budget or it can
allow you to pay off your loan quicker,” says Mounia Rdaouni, assistant vice
president of mortgage operations at Navy Federal Credit Union.
you need to be eligible for a VA IRRRL
is the hallmark of the VA IRRRL, says Rdaouni. Borrowers who want to apply for
a VA IRRRL don’t have to supply a ton of paperwork or even an appraisal, which
saves both time and money.
main requirements are:
need to provide the certificate of eligibility (COE) you used to apply for your
original VA loan as part of the application process. The COE is also available
digitally through the VA Home Loan program portal.
homeowners who have a second mortgage, that lender must agree to make the new
VA loan the first mortgage.
There are no
credit underwriting requirements for VA IRRRLs, though some lenders might set
their own minimum credit scores, says Adam Spigelman, vice president at Planet
Home Lending. For borrowers who have an average to low credit score, there are
lenders who are willing to evaluate loans on a case-by-case basis.
“Look for a
home lender that does old-fashioned manual underwriting. That means you have a
human underwriter looking at your individual credit situation rather than using
software,” says Spigelman. “The service members who usually benefit from manual
underwriting typically have a reason for their credit blemishes, like a medical
crisis, and some factors that compensate, like extra income.”
fees for VA IRRRLs
other VA refinance products, the VA funding fees associated with IRRRLs are typically
lower, says Rdaouni. The VA charges a funding fee of 0.5 percent as opposed to
a 3.3 percent for other VA refinance loans.
are exempt from these funding fees. Veterans who were injured while serving and
receive compensation for their disability as well as those who are entitled,
but never received, disability compensation don’t have to pay the funding fee.
Spouses of vets who died in service or because of a service-related incident
are also exempt from paying the funding fee.
paid the fee, but are eligible for exemption, could receive a refund. This
includes folks who had a disability claim pending during the loan process and
were later approved for disability. If the disability claim succeeded the loan
closing, then you might be able to get your funding fee reimbursed. To request
a refund, contact your lender or the VA Regional Loan Center at 877-827-3702.
fee can be rolled into the mortgage, if borrowers don’t want to or can’t pay
the fees up front. However, by law, the fees must be paid within 36 months of
originating the loan. By adding the fees to your loan, your monthly payments
will be higher.
your interest rate can help you save money
As part of
the The Protecting Veterans From Predatory Lending Act of 2018, there are
certain requirements lenders must meet. This includes minimum rate reductions,
which is one of the main benefits of refinancing.
who already have a VA loan with a fixed interest rate, the new loan must have
an interest rate of at least 50 basis points less than the previous loan. This
is what they call a net tangible benefit.
the VA loan goes from a fixed rate to an adjustable rate, or ARM, that new
refinanced loan must be at least 200 basis points less than the original loan.
Keep in mind,
even if you lower your interest rate, you can wind up paying more if you extend
the length of your loan. For example, if you’ve paid down five years of a
30-year mortgage and refinance that mortgage you might not want to go back to a
30-year term – which increases the amount of interest you pay, in total. You
can reduce the terms, so that you refinance into a 25-year mortgage with the
lower rate — this way you ensure that you’re saving money on your loan.
Keep in mind
that many lenders have set terms, so you might not be able to customize how
long you want the loan for. For example, someone who has 27 years left on their
loan, might need to choose shorter terms like 25 years or face resetting back
to the popular 30-year mortgage.
interest rates are low, be sure you do the math and talk with your lender
before you refinance, says Rdaouni.
Bankrate’s mortgage rate calculator can help you see
what your new payments would look like using a lower interest rate and
different terms. It will also help you figure out how much your monthly
mortgage payments will be using these variables to see how it factors with your
goals and budget.
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