How to Refinance Your Home Loan with Bad Credit
Getting all your bills in order can be hard, but bad credit makes it even harder. Just because your numbers aren’t up to snuff does not mean you are out of luck. Here are a few options for refinancing your home loan—even if you have bad credit.
Look for Lenders Looking for You
In a culture that relies so heavily on loans and credit cards, bad credit isn’t abnormal. In fact, it is common enough that many companies bank on it. Call around to mortgage lenders that specifically lend to customers with poor credit. Many of these companies recognize that your credit isn’t always bad because of something you did (like losing a job). Rather than focusing solely on credit scores, they may look at things like regular mortgage payments and debt that is low or regularly paid. Don’t take your first offer—be sure to shop around. Ask questions like “What is the interest rate?” “What happens to that rate if I do miss a payment?” and “What kind of fees or closing costs am I looking at?” And always read the fine print before you sign anything.
Have Someone Cosign
This can be difficult to ask of someone because it makes them responsible for your loan if you can’t swing it. In any case, if you happen to have someone with good credit you are comfortable asking and who feels comfortable providing, they can be your cosigner. This means the bank is more likely to work with you, because even though your credit isn’t great, someone who does have great credit is vouching for you.
Refinance Specific Types of Loans
Depending on who holds your first loan, you may qualify for help. The Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP 2) was designed for people with loans more than their house is worth now. If your mortgage is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, was delivered by June 1, 2009, and is not an FHA loan, you may qualify for this federal program created to make mortgages more feasible. If you do have an FHA loan, they tend to be easier to refinance, so talk to your mortgage officer.
Improve Your Credit Score
An obvious option, but nonetheless an option. If you are leary of lenders willing to work with poor credit scores and not comfortable asking someone to cosign, you may need to try improving your credit score. What you need to do depends on why your score is bad. If you have a low credit score because you don’t have much on there, you might consider picking up a low interest, low balance credit card or two. Use them for gas or groceries and pay them off immediately to boost your score.
If you’re swimming in debt you can’t keep up with, talk to someone about getting your debt combined at a lower interest rate. It may take a little longer than other options, but it has the added bonuses of permanently improving your credit (assuming you keep your debt managed) and not having to rely on anyone but yourself. Remember: if you get turned down, wait about a year before reapplying so your scores have time to significantly change. Also, in some instances getting your credit checked or not getting approved can negatively impact your credit even further.