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How Often Can You Refinance Your Home?

Victoria Araj6-minute read

April 25, 2021

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Are you having trouble making your mortgage payment each month? A refinance can help you manage your money more effectively and help lower your interest rate, remove private mortgage insurance or take cash out of your equity.

But here’s a twist: What if you’ve already refinanced your home loan? Can you, or should you, do it again? We’ll look at how often you can refinance and help you decide whether doing so more than once is the best decision.

How Many Times Can I Refinance My Mortgage?

There’s no legal limit on the number of times you can refinance your home loan. However, mortgage lenders do set a few rules that dictate the frequency of refinancing by loan type, and there are some special considerations to note if you want a cash-out refinance.

Equity And Your Refinance

Remember: You need to have equity built up to take cash out against it. You might have less equity in your home than you think if you’ve taken a cash-out refinance in the past.

Every time you dip into your equity, you reduce the percentage of your home loan that you can use. Most lenders won’t allow you to take out 100%. You’ll need to do some math and figure out exactly how much equity you have before you refinance.

Cash-Out Refinance Example

Imagine that you pay off $50,000 of your home loan and have a remaining principal of $100,000 left on your mortgage. You want to do $30,000 worth of repairs, so you opt for a cash-out refinance. Your new loan principal is $130,000 and you take away $30,000.

Fast forward 2 years and let’s say that you now need $20,000 to pay off some debt. In the years after your refinance, you’ve paid only $2,000 off your principal after accounting for interest.

Though your loan balance is now $128,000, you only have $22,000 worth of equity in your home. Most lenders only allow you to refinance 80% – 90% of your loan value.

If you withdraw $20,000 in a cash-out refinance, you’re taking over 90% of your equity. This means that you’ll likely have trouble finding a lender who’s willing to service your refinance.

If you do find one, you probably won’t get the best possible interest rate, meaning you’ll pay thousands of dollars more in interest by the time you pay off your home loan.

Low rates were a big story in 2020. It was a great year to refinance!

Great news about 2021 so far: Rates are still relatively low.

Should You Refinance Your Mortgage More Than Once?

There are several reasons why you might want another refinance. Here are some situations when it could be to your advantage.

Taking A Lower Interest Rate

Have interest rates lowered since you got your refinance? You may want to refinance again to take advantage. You can almost always save money if you’re able to lower your interest rate without changing the term of your loan.

Just a small change in your interest rate can save you hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars. For example, let’s say you currently have a 20-year mortgage loan with $150,000 left on your principal and you pay an interest rate of 4.5%.

You have the chance to refinance your loan with the same terms and an interest rate of 4% APR. If you don’t refinance, you pay $77,753.84 in interest by the time your loan matures. If you take the refinance, you pay $68,152.95 total in interest. Lowering your rate just 0.5% means you’ll save over $9,601 in interest.

Increasing Your Loan Term

Income changes can happen at a moment’s notice. Even if you’ve already refinanced in the past, you may need to increase your loan’s term again if you’re having trouble making payments.

A second or even third refinance is preferable to foreclosure for homeowners and lenders. However, remember that every time you refinance your loan to a longer term, you increase the amount you pay in interest.

Getting Rid Of Mortgage Insurance

Do you recall whether you were required to buy private mortgage insurance (PMI)? Here’s a hint: Chances are you had to if your down payment was less than 20% on a conventional loan.

PMI is a special type of insurance that protects your lender if you default on your loan. PMI offers you no protection as the homeowner, but you must still pay the recurring premiums as a condition of your loan.

It’s possible to refinance and remove PMI once you reach 20% equity in your home. It’s a great way to save money over time, even if you’ve refinanced your loan’s interest rate or term in the past.

You may also want to refinance from an FHA loan to a conventional loan when you reach 20% equity. An FHA loan means you must pay for insurance throughout the duration of the loan. However, if you refinance from an FHA loan to a conventional loan, you won’t have to pay for your lender’s insurance as long as you have at least 20% equity in your home. 

Things To Consider When Refinancing Multiple Times

Refinancing more than once isn’t for everyone, even if the benefits seem universally attractive. Let’s look at a few things you need to consider before you refinance again. 

You Need To Pay Closing Costs Again

Unless you opt for a no-closing-cost refinance, remember that every time you refinance, you need to pay closing costs. Some common closing costs you’ll see when you refinance more than once can include:

  • Application fees: Your lender might charge you an application fee when you request a refinance. You need to pay for your application fee whether or not you actually receive a refinance.
  • Appraisal fees: Have you recently had an appraisal? Even if you have, your lender might require another before you can refinance. This helps ensure that the lender isn’t loaning out too much money.
  • Inspection fees: You might need to get an inspection before you can refinance. Some states require certain types of inspections each time you refinance, while others only require inspections every 5 – 10 years.
  • Attorney review fees and closing fees: You need an attorney to finalize your loan and review it before closing in some states. Attorneys’ fees can vary widely from state to state.
  • Title search and insurance: When you refinance with a new lender, they need to know that you’re the only one who has rights to your property. Expect to pay title insurance and search fees again (even if you’ve recently refinanced) when you work with a new lender.

Closing costs vary by location but you can usually expect to pay 2% – 3% of your total loan amount. This can quickly cut into any money you’re saving – especially if this isn’t your first refinance.

You Still Need To Meet Your Lender’s Standards

Just like when you buy a home, you must meet your lender’s standards when you refinance. Have more debt, less income or a lower credit score now than when you last refinanced? You may have difficulty getting approved. Know your debt-to-income ratio, current equity and credit score before you apply.

You Might Face Prepayment Penalties

While Rocket Mortgage® does not have a prepayment penalty, some lenders include clauses that penalize you if you pay off your loan before your term ends. For example, you may need to pay anything you saved in interest if you pay your loan off within 5 years of your term.

This can create a problem if you’ve already gotten one refinance and reset your loan’s term. Read through the terms of your last refinance and see if your loan has an early repayment penalty before you apply for a new one.

Summary

There’s no limit on the number of times that you can refinance your mortgage loan. However, their may be factors that limit your practical ability to refinance. These include:

  • Amount of equity for cash-out refinances
  • Closing costs
  • Prepayment penalties
  • Debt, income and credit requirements

Refinancing multiple times can help you meet your payments if foreclosure is a concern, and can be helpful if you want to remove PMI or take advantage of falling interest rates. You can see how much you'll save with a refinance calculator, or you can review your options online by applying for your refinance now.

Great news! Rates are still low to start 2021.

Missed your chance for historically low mortgage rates in 2020? Act now!

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Victoria Araj

Victoria Araj is a Section Editor for Quicken Loans and held roles in mortgage banking, public relations and more in her 15+ years with the company. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in political science from Michigan State University, and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Michigan.