10 Options to Refinance with Bad Credit


credit score needed to buy a house

Are you looking to reduce your mortgage payment but think you can’t refinance with bad credit?

If so, then don’t put the idea on the back burner just yet.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at refinancing options for people with less-than-perfect credit.

Rate Search: Check Today’s Refinance Rates 

1. Contact Your Current Mortgage Company

The first place to start is with your current lender. Often, they have several refinancing options available for current customers.

Your current lender may have a streamlined or rate and term refinance that will get you a lower rate and payment.

2. Look into a Mortgage Recast

A mortgage recast is when a borrower pays a large amount of money towards their loan, and the loan is amortized. This means the new lower balance will be recalculated, lowering your monthly payment.

If you were to make a large payment without recasting your mortgage, the principal would be reduced, but your payment would stay the same.

The good news is that you can do this with bad credit; lenders do not check credit when recasting a loan. Contact your lender to see if they offer mortgage recasting and see if it’s a good option for you.

3. FHA Streamline Refinance

If you have an FHA loan, you can get a lower rate and payment with an FHA streamline refinance.

Streamline refinancing is available for government-backed home loans, including VA loans and USDA loans.

The process is streamlined, requiring less paperwork and verification.

4. VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL)

For borrowers with a VA loan, they can refinance their loan with the VA IRRRL program. It is basically a streamlined refinance for a VA mortgage.

They are done without a home appraisal or income verification,  and some lenders may do a streamlined refinance with bad credit.

However, you will have to meet some criteria to qualify. While some lenders require a 620 FICO score, other mortgage lenders may allow for a lower credit rating or not perform a credit check at all.

  • The mortgage must be current.
  • No late payments over the past 12 months
  • No appraisal is required.
  • The lender must be FHA approved.
  • Must have owned the home for at least 6 months

 

5. Home Equity and HELOC Loans

A home equity loan uses your home’s equity as collateral for a second mortgage on your home.

HELOC stands for a home equity line of credit, which works like a credit card. Many people choose these types of loans as an alternative to a debt consolidation personal loan.

Home equity loans with bad credit are possible. However, mortgage lenders are more resistant because they will be a second lean holder on the mortgage.

2020 Home Equity Loan Requirements

• 680 minimum credit score

• No late payments in the last 12 months

• Loan-to-value ratio must be 70% or lower

• Maximum 45% debt-to-income ratio

• Borrow up to 80% of the home's market value

Pros


Cons

  • Pay interest only on the amount borrowed

  • Low interest rates

  • Get cash to make renovations or repairs

  • Pay off and borrow at any time

  • No fees to take out cash

  • Increase the value of your property

  • Reduces your equity each time you use it

  • Has a variable rate

  • Could face foreclosure if you're unable to make payments

  • Closing costs between 2% - 5% of the credit line

6. Cash-out Refinance

If you have a poor credit rating, then a cash-out refinance is easier to qualify for.

A cash-out refinance is a new loan that pays off your old one. You can get cash for the difference between the balance and 80% of the home’s value. Cash-out refinancing is a more realistic option for borrowers with bad credit.

2020 Cash-Out Refinance Requirements

• 620 credit score

• No mortgage late payments in past 12 months

• At least 30% equity in the home

• 50% debt-to-income ratio

• Available for primary residence only

• Borrow up to 80% LTV ratio

7. Check Your Local Credit Union

Credit Unions are more relationship-focused than a big bank or online lender.

If you’re a member of a credit union and have a good relationship with them, you should speak to them about refinancing your loan. They are more likely to overlook a poor credit score to help a long-standing customer.

8. Improve Your Credit Score

You must review your report to identify what’s hurting your credit. Once you pinpoint what’s dragging your credit score down, you can take steps to fix the bad credit issue(s) that you identified during the review.

There are two ways to do that: the first way involves correcting errors in your credit report and improving your credit record. If you have negative items on your report, you can dispute them with the Credit Bureaus.

Once you know all the negative items on your report, you can contact each credit bureau and dispute the item’s accuracy.

Things to do to raise your credit score before refinancing a loan

  • Don’t make any late payments.
  • Pay down credit card debt to less than 20% of the credit limit.
  • Do not apply for new credit accounts.
  • Dispute negative items on your report

 

9. Make the Rest of Your Application Attractive

Bad credit history alone won’t sink your refinance application. Lenders will also be looking at the rest of your loan packet when making a final decision on your refinance loan.

Make sure that the rest of your loan application is in order can help to offset what your credit history is lacking.

Be ready with your income statements, bank statements, and tax forms. Also, show stability by keeping your debts to a minimum and having a cash reserve in the bank. A low debt-to-income ratio is another compensating factor for poor credit.

In short, do everything within your power to make your overall loan application more appealing to the lender.

Compensating factors for bad credit

  • High income (low debt-to-income ratio)
  • Low loan-to-value ratio
  • More than 5 years at current employer
  • Large amount in savings

 

10. Remove a Co-Signer

Mortgage lenders use the borrower with the lowest credit score to determine rates and fees.

Adding a co-signer or non-occupant co-borrower with excellent credit won’t help you get a better rate.

But having a co-signer or co-applicant on your loan with a lower credit score will result in a higher rate and fees.

If there is someone else on your mortgage with bad credit, it’s a good idea to have them removed from the mortgage. This will make you look less risky, and you’ll get a better deal when you refinance.

Why are You Refinancing?

There are different types of refinance loans out there. The reason why you’re refinancing will ultimately decide which one is right for you.

Reasons People Refinance Their Mortgage

  • Lower monthly payment
  • Get a lower interest rate
  • Remove mortgage insurance
  • Pay off the mortgage faster
  • Get cashback
  • Switch from an adjustable-rate mortgage to a fixed-rate

 

If you’re looking to lower your monthly mortgage payment, refinancing can help you accomplish this.

When you refinance a mortgage, the term resets. If you get a new 30-year loan with a lower mortgage balance, your monthly payment could be significantly lower.

How to Qualify

First, you will need a qualifying reason, such as lowering your monthly payments, switching from an adjustable-rate mortgage and into a fixed-rate loan (among other qualifying reasons) to refinance. Additionally, you have to be up to date on your current mortgage payments.

You cannot have more than one 30-day late payment in the past 12 months to qualify. A streamline refinance saves FHA borrowers an average of $180 per month.

There are streamline refinancing options for other Government loans as well. VA, USDA, and 203k loans. They work just like the FHA streamline refinance.

Finding Refinance Lenders who Work with Poor Credit

Finding a bad credit lender working with people with a bad credit rating is the first step to refinancing.

Different lenders serve different sectors of the mortgage industry; some of them base their focus on offering loans to individuals with credit issues while others serve exclusively those with good credit.

Obtain your credit score and get in touch with up to 5 lenders and see the kind of terms they offer. Shopping multiple lenders can help you get the best refinance rate.

Note: Avoid shopping around for too long; the typical shopping period is 30 to 45 days. Multiple credit inquiries for a mortgage will count as a single inquiry for 30 days.

The Bottom Line

It’s possible to refinance with bad credit, so if you want to lower your mortgage payment but have bad credit, you could be in luck.

Review your credit history and try to be responsible with your spending.

Home equity and HELOC loans are tough to qualify for; if you have low credit scores, cash-out refinancing is a more viable option.

If your application is declined, don’t panic. Apply with other lenders; just because one lender denies you doesn’t mean they all will.

Apply to refinance your mortgage