HOUSTON – For proof that the coronavirus pandemic is wreaking havoc on our financial wellbeing, look no further than the mortgage market.

Mortgage rates have been bouncing around at near-record lows and then spiking back up recently. That’s why we went straight to the experts to find out what you need to know if you’re thinking about refinancing.

You could find extra cash by refinancing your mortgage. But be aware, it will cost you.

“There is no such thing as a free refinance,” said Sue Jacobs, a loan officer at First Florida Lending.

The average home price in America is $320,000. If you have a loan for $250,000, the average refinance could cost anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000.

“If you hear there’s a no-closing costs refinance, every loan has closing costs,” said Jacobs.

The cost of so-called “free” refinancing will be added on to your interest rate. Fannie Mae has this free calculator. Let’s say you need to refinance $250,000 with a 3.5% interest rate, you will save more than $1,100 a month (assuming your current interest rate is 5%). That’s a savings of almost $14,000 a year—it would take less than six months to recoup your refinancing costs. But before you call a lender, it’s important to know why you’re refinancing. Independent mortgage brokers may know of alternative loans that banks don’t offer.

“They also are privy to so many different lenders cause that’s what they do,” said Jacobs.

And because of COVID-19, the loan market has changed. Lenders may not be willing to take the risk on rental homes and riskier investments.

Financial experts also warn to be careful of getting a cash-out refinance. It might be tempting, but if you’re worried about a recession in the future or your job security, it might not be the best idea. Once you spend that cash, your only option next time around is to pay it all back.

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