Loans with Stealth "Cash Out"
One of the things I hear a lot is that people are getting cash in their pocket from a refinance rate where there is no rebate. "I'm not paying any closing costs!" they proudly tell me, "The bank is putting money in my pocket."
Chances are that's not what's going on. In fact, when the client gives me the chance to investigate, I find out that they are paying huge fees, which are all being added to the balance of the mortgage. But what they remembered was that the lender was also going to give them $1200 or $1500 in cash and add that to the balance on top of everything else.
For "A Paper" loans, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac define the difference between a cash out and rate/term refinance. On a rate/term refinance, a client can have all costs of the loan covered, both points if any and closing costs. A client can have an impound account set up to pay property taxes and homeowner's insurance out of the proceeds. They can have all due property taxes and insurance paid. The client can have all interest paid for 30 or 60 days. And the client can get up to one percent of the loan amount or $2000, whichever is less, in their pocket. In addition to this, if the old lender had an impound account, the client will receive the contents in about 30 days.
Let's say you have a $270,000 loan on a $300,000 home - small for most parts of California and some other places, but large for most places in the country.
Here in California, yearly property taxes would be about $3600 on that. Insurance is about $1000 per year, monthly interest is $1237.50. I'm writing this in September, so if you finish your refinance today, your first payment would be November 1. You'll make five payments before both halves of your property tax are due, and they want a two month reserve, so 12 months plus 2 months is fourteen months minus five months is nine months reserves they will want in property taxes. $3600 divided by twelve times nine months is $2700. Let's say Insurance is due in April, so they'll want eight months of that. $1000 divided by twelve times eight months is $666.67. Plus two points and $4500 in closing costs the lender charges, and they actually may have told you about it, but they emphasized the cash you are getting in your pocket so that is what a lot of people remember.
Even without the cash out, this works out to a new loan amount of $270,000 plus $2700 plus $666.67 plus $1237.50 plus $4500 plus two points which works out to $284,800 as your new balance without a penny in your pocket. If they gave you $1500, your new balance becomes $286,330 (remember the two points apply to the $1500 also!) which will probably be rounded to $286,350. Subtract $270,000, and they have added $16,350 to your mortgage balance but hey, you got to skip a month's payment and got $1500 in your pocket!
As I have said elsewhere, however, money added to your balance tends to stick around a long time, and you are paying interest on it the whole time. Furthermore, lenders love this because their compensation is based upon the loan amount. All because you allowed yourself to get distracted by the cash in your pocket. This is fine if it is what you want to do and you go in with your eyes open, but chances are if someone were to tell you "I'm going to add $16350 to your mortgage balance to put $1500 in your pocket and allow you to skip writing a check for one month!" you wouldn't agree to do it. Even if the rate is getting cut so your payment is $75 per month less.
For loans lower down the food chain (A minus, Alt A, subprime and hard money) the lenders set their own guidelines on what is and is not cash out, but Fannie and Freddie's definition is more strict than the vast majority.
So when somebody tells you they are going to put money in your pocket as part of the closing cost, ask them precisely how much is going to be added to your mortgage balance. Print out the list of questions in this, and ask every single one. Because chances are, they are trying to pull a fast one, and once you are signed up, they figure they have you.
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