Do your homework before refinancing your adjustable-rate mortgage

As the drumbeat of news continues about the credit crunch in the mortgage market, millions of homeowners are worried about their adjustable-rate mortgages (ARM) that will adjust to higher interest rates, leaving many struggling to make their payment. As a result, there’s a lot of confusion about what to do, or not do, before an ARM resets.

According to industry statistics, $75 billion in ARMs are slated to adjust higher through the rest of 2007. Another $380 billion will adjust higher in 2008.

What should consumers do if their ARM is about to reset? There is no “one size fits all” answer, so it’s imperative that homeowners educate themselves and take action before their ARM resets.

To help consumers find answers, Quicken Loans, one of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders, has launched its new Home Loan U Web site at The site offers a wealth of free informational guides providing easy-to-understand information and advice on a wide range of housing topics, including refinancing.

“With so many ARMs adjusting higher in the near future, a lot of folks are confused and worried about what to do. Their first impulse may be to immediately refinance but, in some cases, that might not be the best option,” says Bob Walters, chief economist for Quicken Loans. “There are several factors to consider when an ARM resets, such as the new interest rate and how long they plan to stay in their home.”

Walters notes that the first thing someone with an ARM should do is consult an experienced mortgage lender who can review their current loan program, discuss financial goals and explore available options to determine the best course of action to meet their immediate and long-term needs.

Here are some tips about refinancing:

Determine how long you plan to stay in your home. If you plan to move before your interest rate resets, it may make financial sense to stay in your current loan. If you plan to stay put, look into refinancing into a fixed-rate mortgage.

Know when your interest rate resets and what the new rate will be.

Calculate the current market value of your home to determine the loan to value ratio as this will impact which loans you qualify for and the rate. You can use the free calculator found online at

Avoid prepayment penalties as they make it costly to refinance should rates fall or your situation change.

Work with an experienced lender to be sure you understand all the available loan programs, including FHA programs which require less equity and offer a viable solution to many seeking to refinance out of ARMs.

For more info, visit

from the Oct. 17-23, 2007, issue

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