How Soon Can I Refinance My Mortgage?

Cardboard cutout house on a desk

Getty Images

The lower your interest rate on your mortgage, the more affordable your home becomes. If you didn't qualify for the best mortgage rate when you first got a home loan, then refinancing may be worthwhile.

Refinancing lets you swap one mortgage loan for another, albeit at a lower rate. And your associated savings could be substantial.

But what if you only recently closed on your mortgage? Can you refinance right away, or will you need to wait?

Your refinancing timeline

There's no preset number of times you're allowed to refinance; you can do so as many times as it makes sense given your financial situation. However, if you've recently signed your mortgage, you may need to wait a bit as generally, your existing lender won't let you refinance in the first six months. That said, some lenders will waive that waiting period, so if rates have dropped significantly since you closed on your home, or your credit score has improved tremendously, it pays to contact your lender and see whether refinancing is possible.

Another option is to refinance with another mortgage lender. Many lenders will let you refinance even if you recently signed your mortgage with someone else. You're more likely to snag a great offer if you shop around to find the best mortgage refinance deals.

Now if you're looking to do a cash-out refinance, you'll generally need to wait at least six months from when you originally closed on your mortgage, regardless of whether you're using the same lender or a different lender. With a cash-out refinance, you borrow more money than what you owe on your existing mortgage. You can then use that cash for any purpose -- improving your home, paying down debt, or even taking a vacation.

If you want to refinance an FHA loan with an FHA Streamline Refinance (a program in which your original FHA loan paperwork is used to process your refinance, thereby expediting the process), you'll be subject to a 210-day waiting period. Also, if your original mortgage was already modified to make your payments more affordable, you may need to wait up to two years to refinance it.

Does it pay to refinance soon after closing on a mortgage?

When you refinance, you're subject to closing costs in the same way as when you sign an original mortgage. If you refinance too often, you'll keep paying those closing costs. But in some cases, it may be worth it.

Imagine your credit score has improved in recent months, while mortgage rates have fallen simultaneously. If you're able to lower your interest rate by a full percentage point or more, then it could easily pay to refinance -- even once you've covered those closing costs.

It could also pay to refinance shortly after closing on a mortgage if your home value has climbed substantially since you finalized that loan, and refinancing allows you to get rid of your private mortgage insurance.

Ultimately, though, you'll need to make sure you plan to stay in your home long enough to reap the benefits of a refinance. If your refinance costs you $4,000, but you're able to lower your monthly mortgage payment by $200 a month, it will only take you 20 months to break even. If you're confident you'll be staying in your home for another 29 years until your mortgage is paid off, then refinancing clearly makes sense, because you'll come out way ahead financially in the long run.

Don't rush to refinance

Tempting as it may be to refinance soon after closing on your mortgage, make sure you're doing it for the right reasons. Don't chase small interest rate drops -- if refinancing means going from a rate of 3.755% to 3.50%, it's probably not worth it. Rather, wait until you have a chance to capitalize on a substantial rate reduction before applying to refinance.

Today's Best Mortgage Rates

Chances are, mortgage rates won't stay put at multi-decade lows for much longer. In fact, the Fed has already signaled that it expects rates to continue increasing. That's why taking action today is crucial, whether you're wanting to refinance and cut your mortgage payment or you're ready to pull the trigger on a new home purchase. Click here to get started by scanning the market for your best rate.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Latest Markets Videos

The Motley Fool

Founded in 1993 in Alexandria, VA., by brothers David and Tom Gardner, The Motley Fool is a multimedia financial-services company dedicated to building the world's greatest investment community. Reaching millions of people each month through its website, books, newspaper column, radio show, television appearances, and subscription newsletter services, The Motley Fool champions shareholder values and advocates tirelessly for the individual investor. The company's name was taken from Shakespeare, whose wise fools both instructed and amused, and could speak the truth to the king -- without getting their heads lopped off.

Learn More