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What is Mortgage Refinance

A mortgage is a loan used for real estate. They’re available via banks, credit unions, and online lenders. Hundreds of billions of dollars worth of mortgage loans are given each year. But, mortgages aren’t one-size-fits-all. Mortgages can be customized.

For example, you can choose the number of years in your loan (i.e. term); you can choose the nature of your interest rate (i.e. fixed-rate or adjustable-rate); and, you can even choose what you pay in mortgage closing costs.

Your needs as a homeowner today, though, may be different from your needs tomorrow. In the future, you may not like mortgage terms you created for yourself.

Thankfully, there’s an option to change your mortgage loan terms. It’s known as a “refinance”.

3 types of refinance mortgages

Refinance mortgages come in three varieties - rate-and-term, cash-out, and cash-in. The refinance type that's best for you will depend on your individual circumstance. Refinance mortgage rates vary between the three types.

Rate-and-term refinance

In a rate-and-term refinance, the only terms of the new loan which differ from the original one are either the mortgage rate, the loan term, or both. Loan term is the length of the mortgage.

For example, in a rate-and-term refinance, a homeowner may refinance from a 30-year fixed rate mortgage into a 15-year fixed rate mortgage; or, may refinance from a 30-year fixed rate mortgage at 6 percent mortgage rate to a new, 30-year mortgage rate at 4 percent.

Cash-out refinance

In a cash-out refinance, the refinance mortgage may optionally feature a lower mortgage rate than the original home loan; or shorter loan term, such as moving from a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year mortgage.

However, the defining characteristic of a cash-out mortgage is an increase in the amount that’s borrowed.

Cash-in refinance

Cash-in refinance mortgages are the opposite of the cash-out refinance. With a cash-in refinance, a refinancing homeowner brings cash to closing in order to pay down the loan balance and the amount owed to the bank.

The cash-in mortgage refinance may result in a lower mortgage rate, a shorter loan term, or both. There are several reasons why homeowners opt for cash-in refinance mortgages.

The most common reason to do a cash-in refinance to get access to lower mortgage rates which are only available at lower loan-to-values. Refinance mortgage rates are often lower at 75% LTV, for example, as compared to 80% LTV.