Refinancing your mortgage means you replace your current mortgage loan with a new one. Homeowners refinance for a variety of reasons: Top ones include lowering their interest rate to possibly get a lower monthly payment, changing their loan’s term, or switching from an adjustable-rate to a fixed-rate loan.
There is typically a fee for refinancing your mortgage. Though a mortgage refinance may offer a lower interest rate, consumers must factor in this fee in order to determine whether or not refinancing makes financial sense. Other considerations include how much equity you have in your home, and your long-term goals.
If you are thinking about refinancing, we’ve listed five of the top online mortgage refinance companies of 2020 below. These companies made our list for many reasons especially commitment to customer service and price transparency. We focused in particular on lenders that operate online. The picks, adapted from our sister site Consumers Advocate, are based on these companies’ industry reputations in their respective areas of expertise, not necessarily on Money editor’s independent assessment.
While we hope this list is a useful starting point, research shows it pays to get quotes from several lenders. In addition to the companies mentioned here, you should also check out what traditional national and local banks and credit unions offer. With that in mind, our aim with this guide is to make you an informed, empowered shopper.
Important Things To Know About Mortgage Refinancing:
Before revealing the top five mortgage refinance companies of 2020, there are a few other things you should know about refinancing.
Mortgage refinancing could extend the length of your loan. When you replace your mortgage loan with a new one via refinancing, and you choose the same term, you could be making mortgage payments for longer. For example, if you’re 5 years into a 30-year mortgage and then refinance into a new 30-year mortgage, you reset the clock and now have a new loan for 30 years (not 25).
However, this could be a good financial move if the interest rate is such that you are saving more money over the course of the new loan than you would have if you’d continued with the old one.
There are costs and fees associated with refinancing a mortgage. You’ll likely have to pay for an appraisal, credit check, origination fees, title company fees, closing fees, and more. These fees, on average, are 3% to 5% of the total loan amount.
People with the best credit scores typically get the best interest rates. If you want to qualify for the lowest mortgage refinance rates of 2020, it’s best if you have a credit score above 750.
It’s important to have at least 20% equity in your home before refinancing. If you don’t, you will likely have to pay for private mortgage insurance.
Make sure you have a low debt to credit ratio. This is the percentage of your gross monthly income that goes towards debt every month. In the past, mortgage lenders were more flexible when it came to this percentage, but now they are more stringent. The max debt to income ratio you can have is 43%, although most mortgage lenders prefer percentages much lower than that.
Always shop around. While only about half of borrowers consider a quote from more than one lender, it pays handsomely to do so. One recent Freddie Mac study found that getting an extra quote lowered home buyers average interest rate by 0.166 percentage points, the equivalent of $400 in annual savings on a typical-sized mortgage.
Don’t forget traditional banks. Our list focuses on the online mortgage lenders that offer the best customer service. But to make sure you find the lowest-possible interest rate you should also check with traditional banks, such as national leaders JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo, and local banks and credit unions that operate just in your area. What local lenders lack in terms of technology, they often make up for in terms of knowledge of the local real estate market. That can mean a lower interest rate, a smoother close, or both.
Think twice about taking cash out. While some lenders advertise refinancing as a way to pay for home renovations, you should be very wary of this. Most renovation products do not increase the home’s value by as much as the cost of the project. You are essentially taking on debt to fund a lifestyle change.
The 5 Best Mortgage Refinance Lenders of 2020
Below is our list of the best online mortgage refinance providers of 2020, along with our rationale of why they made the cut. Remember, it’s important to get several refinance quotes before choosing a lender. Every refinance provider charges different fees, offers different perks, and has different timeframes for closing.
- Best Customer Service – Quicken Loans
- Fastest Closing Times – Figure
- Best Price Transparency – Freedom Mortgage
- Best Comparison Tools – Credible
- Best Online Platform – Rocket Mortgage
Mortgage Refinance Lender Reviews
Quicken Loans Review: Best Customer Service
The largest mortgage lender in America isn’t a bank at all it’s Quicken Loans — which surpassed traditional banking giants JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo in 2018. That’s because its big investment in developing online mortgage application software allowed it to shine at a time when competitors were retrenching after the financial crisis.
Quicken has won plaudits from taste makers too. In 2018, J.D. Power and Associates ranked Quicken Loans #1 in Customer Satisfaction for Primary Mortgage Origination for the 9th year in a row.
Figure Review: Fastest Closing Times
Figure only offers mortgage refinancings, not purchase loans. But with the average 30-year mortgage rate under 4%, that’s a smart move for lots of homeowners. Also, Figure offers a 100% online application so there’s no need to go to the bank in person.
Freedom Mortgage Review: Best Price Transparency
Although Freedom Mortgage is known for government-backed mortgages such as FHA Loans, VA loans, HARP loans, and USDA-backed loans.
These loans can help borrowers who might otherwise struggle to get a loan, especially first-time home buyers. For instance, while you need a credit score of at least 620 for a traditional “conforming” mortgage backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, you can get an FHA loan with a score as low as 580. FHA loans, also allow borrowers to put as little as 3.5% down, compared to the much heftier 20% that represents the rule of thumb for borrowers.
Keep in mind, though there are drawbacks. Low-down payment FHA loans require borrowers to pay “private mortgage insurance,” an extra fee that typically amounts to 0.2 to 2% of your mortgage.
Freedom, one of the top FHA lenders by volume, aims to help borrowers sift through the government paperwork in order to qualify for these types of loans. It’s simple and transparent underwriting process is fully online, according to Consumers Advocate. So, if you are looking for a company that has a strong knowledge of how to secure one of these loans products, Freedom Mortgage could be a good option for you.
Credible Review: Best Comparison Tools
Although it’s not a mortgage lender itself, Credible helps consumers compare mortgage refinance rates. As mentioned, it’s important to get several quotes from different mortgage lenders. Credible has an intuitive interface and some of the best and easy-to-use online comparison tools, making the refinance process straightforward and easy. Credible also claims you can pre-qualify in as little as 3 minutes.
Rocket Mortgage Review: Best Online Platform
Developed in 2015, Quicken’s Rocket Mortgage was the first entirely online source for mortgages. It offers a different product and application experience from the traditional Quicken Loans mortgage, which is why we’re listing Rocket separately.
Unlike applying for a mortgage with Quicken Loans directly, where you would talk to a banker who walks you through the process, Rocket Mortgage delivers the entire experience through its online platform. While traditionally you need to gather information like W-2s and tax returns, Rocket Mortgage can find many of these automatically, once you hand over key personal information like your social security number and bank account log-ins. Quicken has bragged you should be able to complete the process and get a quote in as little as 8 minutes.
How We Found the Best Mortgage Refinance of 2020
Our list of the best mortgage refinance lenders is adapted from our ConsumersAdvocate.org’s ranking of the 10 best refinance companies. Consumers Advocate and Money.com share the same corporate parent. We also looked at lenders’ customer service, innovation, speed, and price transparency and considered several years’ worth of JD Power and Associates rankings.
Refinancing a mortgage can be a lengthy process. It’s not a simple transaction like adding a shirt to an online shopping cart. There are many steps and you are required to provide a lot of personal information. That’s why customer service is so important, especially if this is your first time refinancing a home.
The financial jargon in the mortgage industry can be overwhelming. There are many different fees, and if it’s been a while since you got your first mortgage, you might need a refresher. That’s why it’s important to choose a lender who is committed to price transparency and is happy to explain to you the different fees that will be rolled into your loan.
We live in the digital age, and most people today prefer to do as much online as possible. Lenders who have changed with the times and made online applications easy earned a spot on this list.
Summary: Best Mortgage Refinance Banks of 2020
Refinancing your mortgage can be a great way to reduce your monthly mortgage payment or lock in today’s historically low mortgage rates. However, it’s still a process that usually involves paying fees, filling out paperwork, and working closely with a lender.
The Best Refinance Companies for 2020
Best Customer Service – Quicken Loans
Fastest Closing Times – Figure
Best Price Transparency – Freedom Mortgage
Best Comparison Tools – Credible
Best Online Platform – Rocket Mortgage
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