Mortgage interest rates are at historic lows across all major loan types. Ellie Mae’s October 2019 Origination Report stated FHA loans are no exception — average mortgage interest rates decreased to 3.94% in October from 3.96% in September. And, homeowners are ready to take advantage of the opportunity to lower their monthly payments.
An FHA streamline refinance allows current FHA homeowners to drop their monthly payments quickly. The program requires no appraisal or income documentation which speeds up loan processing and the credit standards are lenient.
The only hurdle to the program is closing costs.
Are there closing costs with an FHA streamline refinance?
For an FHA streamline refinance, typical closing costs range between $1,500 and $4,000. Though, your loan could require higher or lower fees depending on the lender, the loan amount, and your credit score among other loan factors. The only way to get an accurate estimate is to get a Good Faith Estimate from a lender to see their quoted costs. Once you get this estimate from at least two lenders, then you can start to negotiate your fees.
In addition to the fees listed below, borrowers are also required to prepay some expenses like taxes and homeowners insurance. Though, the borrower’s current lender typically sends a refund of a similar amount when the loan closes. This means the net cost for borrowers is often close to zero for prepaid items.
FHA Streamline Refinance Closing Cost Table
|Loan origination fee||0-1% of the loan amount|
|FHA upfront mortgage insurance premium (MIP)||1.75% of the loan amount (less MIP refund)|
|FHA mortgage insurance refund||10-68% of original FHA UFMIP (see chart)|
|Appraisal||$0 (not required)|
*This is a list of possible fees for an FHA streamline refinance. While not an all-inclusive list, it should give you an idea of general closing costs.
Closing costs can’t be added to an FHA streamline refinance
The FHA’s rules are a little different. The maximum loan amount for an FHA streamline refinance is calculated by subtracting the FHA MIP refund from the current unpaid principal balance, then adding the new upfront MIP costs.
(Current unpaid principal balance) – (FHA MIP refund) + (New upfront MIP cost) = New maximum loan amount
For example, assuming a current FHA loan closed 12 months ago with a current loan balance of $150,000, the new loan amount would be as follows:
- Current balance: $150,000
- UFMIP refund due to borrower: $1,522
- New UFMIP due: $2,625
- Max new loan amount: $151,103
The new maximum loan amount does not include an “allowance” for closing costs. The good news is that you don’t always have to pay these costs out of pocket.
How do lender-paid closing costs work for an FHA streamline refinance?
Streamline refinance loans are in high demand. Overall, they take less time and resources to process compared to other loan types. Lenders don’t have to order an appraisal, which minimizes the risk of wasted time and money if the home’s value doesn’t appraise for the expected amount.
Lenders also don’t have to verify your income for the new loan. If you’ve been paying your mortgage, lenders assume you’ll continue to do so when you have a lower monthly payment.
This means that lenders want your business — especially streamline refinances. And, that’s good news for consumers. By getting multiple quotes from multiple lenders, banks and mortgage companies have to compete. This gives FHA streamline refinance applicants the leverage to reduce their out-of-pocket expenses.
For example, an FHA applicant gets two FHA streamline quotes with a 3.5% interest rate. One lender quotes $2,000 due at closing, the other lender $1,000. The borrower can, and should, negotiate using lower closing costs with the higher-priced lender. By trying this method, many borrowers can drastically reduce or even eliminate their out-of-pocket costs without increasing their interest rate by rolling closing costs into the loan.
How are lenders able to waive thousands of dollars in fees?
Lenders use what’s called a service release premium (SRP), which they collect when they sell a closed loan to a loan aggregator like Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. (You won’t find the fee disclosed on the Good Faith Estimate or other loan documents.)
For FHA loans, the aggregator is Government National Mortgage Association, or GNMA, who is owned by the U.S. government. GNMA pools together loans and sells them off as securities to investors, who enjoy collecting the interest the borrower pays over the life of the loan.
The SRPs that lenders collect from these aggregators can add up to thousands of dollars. Lenders can apply this money to pay for all or part of the borrower’s closing costs. The closing costs still exist, but the borrower isn’t required to pay them or is reimbursed any cost paid upfront.
So, while closing costs may seem large, keep in mind the amount of money the lender collects in SRP at closing — this gives FHA streamline refinance applicants the power to negotiate.
FHA streamline borrowers shouldn’t be hindered by closing costs
Even though the FHA doesn’t allow closing costs to be rolled into the new loan amount that doesn’t mean borrowers have to pay those fees out of pocket — the high demand for FHA loans gives lenders (and borrowers) more leeway to negotiate a lower rate and fee structure.
With mortgage interest rates at historic lows, now’s a good time to refinance your FHA loan. There’s no reason to be paying more for your home loan than necessary — and that includes closing costs to refinance.