Getting ready to shop for a mortgage refinance for your home is similar to buying your house the first time. In both situations, you have to provide a pile of financial documents to qualify for your new loan. The Federal Reserve has indicated that interest rates may be cut in 2024, so now is a great time shop mortgage lenders for a low-rate refinance.
Get Organized and Follow the Mortgage Checklist in this article.
By reviewing all of your financial documents, your mortgage lender then determines if you qualify for the refinance loan. To help to simply your mortgage refinance process, we would like to provide you with a mortgage loan document checklist to keep you organized.
Make sure that you have all of these documents in order to give to your mortgage lender:
When you apply for your mortgage refinance, lenders need to see proof of income. They have to ensure that you have the financial ability to pay off the loan. They also want to see what your long term debts are and all of your living expenses.
For these reasons, borrowers usually need to show their current pay stubs for at least the last two months. You should keep copies of these documents and have the originals in a safe place. These days, many employers provide pay-stubs online, so you have a convenient online place for your pay records.
For the self-employed, you will probably need to provide other proof of your income. Generally, two years of federal tax returns and a current year profit and loss statement and three months worth of bank statements will suffice. If you don’t receive pay-stubs or W2’s, you may need to ask about “stated income loans” to determine if you are eligible for this type of mortgage.
To offer further proof of your income and employment, you will need to provide copies of your W-2s, 1099s and tax returns. Usually, the previous two years of tax returns are needed. Also know that lenders will require you to sign an IRS form that authorizes the lender to get copies of your tax transcripts. They want to see that what your reported to the IRS matches what you have given the lender.
To review, a W-2 is the form used by employers to show the employee’s income and how much was taken out for taxes and other withholdings. A 1099 is used by independent contractors and the self-employed. The form shows how much the company paid that contractor for the year. It does not show money that was taken out for taxes.
These records are critical to the lender because they show exactly what you are earning and precise financial details so the lender can make a sound lending decision.
The lender also wants as much information about your exact income level so that they can assess whether you can afford the requested loan amount.
Most banks and lenders will request a copy of your drivers license and social security card. In some cases they could request a photo-copy of your passport depending upon citizenship.
Mortgage Statement or Coupon
Banks and lending sources typically will request a copy of your monthly statement or coupon from your mortgage company. This will provide them with account numbers so the processor cant obtain an accurate pay-off amount for the balance your owe on your home.
Most underwriters will request a copy of your mortgage note, because it outlines pre-payment penalties that would need to be added to your pay-off amount if your lender is allowed to charge fees for an early pay-off.
Typically loan processors will need a copy of the declaration page of your homeowner’s insurance policy. At the very minimum they will need your insurance companies phone number so that they can get that info.
Before you are approved for your refinance, lenders will check your credit. Every lender will have its own minimum credit score requirements. You should always double check your credit score on your own before you refinance. If there are any problems, you want to know in advance so you can take action.
You may need to pay down credit card account balances and make sure that all bills are paid on time. The best mortgage refinance rates are for borrowers with top notch credit scores.
Your lender can see your debts on your credit report, but you still need to give them records that show all of your financial obligations. You should collect documents that show the outstanding balances on all of your credit accounts: mortgage, car loans, home equity loan, credit cards, student loans and anything else.
As when you bought your house, the lender wants to see that you have enough liquid assets to cover closing costs and a minimum of two months of mortgage payments.
You should have at the ready copies of your checking and savings accounts, retirement accounts, stocks, bonds and CDs. All of these documents will show proof that you have money available in addition to your salary, so you have the best chance to be approved for your refinance.
There are some situations where you will not need to provide full documentation of your financial situation for a refinance. One of these is the streamline program offered by the FHA.
This program is for the holder of a mortgage insured by FHA who wants to refinance into a lower rate. This streamlined program is not for people who want to pull cash equity out of their homes: It is only to refinance the rate and/or term of the loan.
If you move forward on an FHA streamline mortgage you will usually not need to provide proof of income, an appraisal report and a credit check. The lender usually will refinance the home without checking these records. Some specific lenders may decide to run your credit, but this is not always the case.
This streamline refinance program is a fantastic option for someone who is in a higher interest mortgage, and wants to refinance into a lower current rate. Please note that the streamline is not available for second mortgage programs.
If you would rather not provide income documentation, ask about the no-doc loan programs.
Summary on Mortgage Checklist
Mortgage refinances are extremely popular in America today, with millions of people refinancing into a lower rate each year. These loans have been especially popular in the last few years as interest rates have remained at record lows.
Get organized and follow the mortgage loan document checklist outlined above. When you are getting ready to refinance your home, just collect all of the above paperwork in advance, and you will be able to get your refinance approved relatively quickly.