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FHA LOANS: Dont bite at email, or snail mail loan refinancing offers without exploring options
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If you have a FHA backed mortgage there are a lot of people out there convinced you can save hundreds if not thousands of dollars  a year if you just call them.

You know this from the small forest they have cleared sending you multiple offers to refinance your loan each week.

And while it is true the Department of Housing and Urban Development on Jan. 7  lowered the mortgage insurance premium from 1.354 percent to 0.85 percent it only applies to loans that have a lifetime mortgage insurance premium tied to them  that was a condition on all new FHA loans made starting in July 2013.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t save money now if you have a FHA loan. It is foolish, however, to bite at a mail offer or even an email blast given almost all of the time they are interested in selling you just one option.

It is why brick and mortar loan officers such as Deborah Romero of Ripon-based Ability Mortgage exist.

They will sit down with you and explore all of your options and ask questions to make sure you make the absolutely best move you can. And they do that at no charge.

In the past year, I know of three people who first went with the companies that fish via snail mail and email with offers to lower mortgage payment to snag clients.

In all three cases they took the bait. In each case they spent as much as $500 for an appraisal. One went with the company and the other two didn’t after friends told them they really should consider other options which they did.

The one they snagged lowered her payments by $50 a month but found out two months afterwards she could have saved $27 more a month had she explored options with a brick and mortar loan agent.

The other two discovered they could save significantly more by going elsewhere and had to eat the $500 appraisal fee in the process.

The relaxation of the lifetime MIP requires a history of at least six months of payments on time. On a $170,000 FHA loan originating after July 2013 with a 4.75 annual percentage rate and a lifetime MIP, the new federal rule and a new loan at 3.75 percent could save $131.63 a month. But here’s the rub, that specific offer was tailored and directed at someone who had a FHA loan issued in July 2010 with a MIP of 0.55 percent. To get a new loan as how it was pitched via mail by the company out of Ohio, the MIP would not be lowered and the savings would come from however the loan rate can be reduced In this case it would be less than one percent. In the example given it would barely be $70 a month, if that.

If that still sounds good consider this: a new loan takes the terms back to 30 years and collapses the cost of closing and things such as the appraisal into it. While you will have no expense out pocket, it would take you more than seven years to break even on the additional cost you build into the loan.

Hidden costs collapsed into a new loan is why Romero generally advises clients not to refinance loans unless they can obtain a savings of at least $100 a month.

“Sometimes people just need to save the money now,” Romero said. “And that’s understandable. But there are other options that can save them even more.”

In the case of the one loan, once the home reaches $215,000 in value meaning they would have 22 percent of more equity based on increased value, they can streamline their FHA loan and lose the MIP because the loan originated before July 2013. It would save them more than $80 a month without adding onto what they owe or extending the loan back to 30 years.

The home in question — two bedrooms and one bathroom in 990 square feet — is perhaps valued at $205,000 based on nearby comparables. In a year or so between mortgage principal pay down and increased values the mortgage holder can streamline the loan meaning they keep the same rate and terms and pocket the savings from having the mortgage insurance dropped.