How Much Does My Home Need to Appraise with a Refinance?

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This is a question that I'm reviewing for a client in Seattle who's current mortgage was a non-conforming loan amount in 2005. Non-conforming (aka jumbo) mortgages do not qualify for the home affordable refinance program which offer expanded loan-to-values. The current mortgage balance is $400,000 (in 2005, the conforming loan limit was $359,650). In King County, the current high balance loan limit is $567,500 (soon to be reduced to $506,000 on October 1, 2011).

Here are some examples of what programs are available based on how much the home may appraise for (loan to value) with a mortgage payoff of $400,000.

  • appraised value of $508,000 or higher = 80% loan to value and no private mortgage insurance = conventional mortgage with closing costs and prepaids financed.
  • appraised value of $500,000 or 80% loan to value = conventional mortgage with closing costs and prepaids paid out of pocket or with rebate pricing.
  • appraised value of $475,000 or 85% loan to value = possible combo mortgage with first mortgage at 80% loan to value or lower (to avoid private mortgage insurance) and second mortgage at combined loan to value at 85%. Yes, second mortgages are starting to come back. This scenario would require a minimum mid-credit score of 720.
  • appraised value of $450,000 or 90% loan to value = mortgage insurance
  • appraised value of $415,000 or 97% loan to value = FHA insured mortgage with upfront and annual (monthly) mortgage insurance.
  • appraised value below $415,000 means that the borrower will need to consider a cash-in refinance if they want to proceed.

NOTE: If the mortgage that was being paid off was eligible for home affordable or if it was an FHA underlying mortgage, there would be more options…because it was originally a jumbo loan in 2005, the options are limited.

How much this home appraises for will impact whether or not a refinance is possible…I really believe that if Congress is sincere about a housing recovery, we need to eliminate appraisals on certain rate-term refinance where the borrower qualifes based on their income, employment and credit.

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