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Updated for the spring homebuying season - homebuyer mortgage assistance programs by state

I have lots of equity, but bad credit. Can I refinance?

Q: I came out of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy in April 2009. My credit scores range from a low of 623 (Equifax) to 659 (Trans Union). Home is worth about $350,000 and I owe about $90,000 against it. I cannot get any lender to look at a refinance or even a home equity loan. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. We have been in our home for 20 years and its a shame that we can't get any equity out of our home for improvements or a refinance. Please help?

A: In theory, you should be eligible for a new mortgage just two years out of a Chapter 13 discharge. However, your low score (and smallish loan amount) means your loan is going to be more difficult to place and even then will produce little income for the lender. Also, your low score will find your final mortgage rate moved higher since your risk profile is greater. You should continue to try to build your credit score and talk to additional lenders about an FHA-backed loan. Finding a second-lien home equity product with a low score will be an even greater challenge.

More help from HSH.com

  • Can we do a "cash-in" refinance?

  • How do I remove or add a name to a home loan?

    In general, the only way to remove a name from your mortgage will be to refinance or pay off the debt. This is also true when trying to add names to the mortgage. Lenders will not add nor remove names from such an obligation without the opportunity to ensure that the other borrowers have the ability to pay.
  • I'm an inexperienced refinancer. What can I expect?

    Q: I owe 56,000 on my eleven year old variable rate mortgage at 8%.I have good credit, have been in my home for 11 years and want a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage. While I have a good income, I have no cash for closing costs. Do I need to pay points and fees? Do I need an appraisal? What can I expect when I approach the bank for a refinance?A: If your credit is good and you have equity in your home, you should be able to refinance to a 15-year fixed rate. Lenders will require an appraisal of the property, but you should be able to build the cost of refinancing into the loan amount, or might be able to trade it off in exchange for a slightly higher-than-market interest rate. As the bank about your loan options, and expect that you'll need to fully document your income, debts and assets.
  • I'm trying to refinance a jumbo loan.

  • Is there a ten year refinance mortgage out there?

    Almost any lender that offers a fixed-rate mortgage will offer a 10-year mortgage. Mortgage rates for a 10-year mortgage usually aren't any better than the rates offered for a 15-year mortgage. That said, be sure to shop around to find a competitive rate. Getting a fixed-rate mortgage with a term as short as 10 years will save you a lot of money on interest costs.

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