Mortgage Confidential: Refinancing in a declining market


Mortgage expert David Reed invites Walletpop readers to ask him questions about real estate financing. leave your questions in the comment section of this post.

Q: David- I have a 3-1 arm. Every 6 months the payment goes up. I need to refi and lock in lower payment but I now live in a "decreasing" neighborhood. My credit is excellent but nobody wants to refi me. I have no money to bring to closing!!! H-E-L-P!!!!!! -Groovner

A:Groovner: It's not a situation of a lender wanting to refi you, they certainly do, but only under underwriting guidelines that include a consideration of living in a "declining market." When an appraiser appraises a property, she must check a box that states if the market is stable or declining. Other lenders and mortgage insurers have identified various counties throughout the United States as "declining." When a property is in a declining market, lenders will require a lower loan amount compared to the current appraised value, typically 5% lower than normally required.

Perhaps you can save some money by taking a higher fixed rate in exchange for a lender paying some of your closing costs, but other than that all I can suggest would be to wait it out. One good point is that adjustable rates have been on a downward trend as of late and it's likely your next adjustment will be down, not up. -- David

Real estate finance expert David Reed is president of CD REED Mortgage Bankers in Austin, TX and author of Mortgage Confidential: What You Need to Know That Your Lender Won't Tell You and Mortgages 101: Quick Answers to over 250 Critical Questions About Your Home Loan.