Low-cost refinancing can be pricey

At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here’s an explanation for

Low-cost refinancing might not be quite as low as you would expect, due to risk-adjustment fees tacked on by federal lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Homeowners are finding that while mortgage interest rates are at historic lows, the actual rates charged to refinance loans are often more than they anticipated because of “loan-level price adjustment fees” and “post-settlement delivery fees.”

Missing the boat

Fees such as these can discourage some borrowers from pursuing low-cost refinancing, even though interest rates are low, because they have to pay more upfront.

Some mortgage experts are critical of the fees and see them as an overreaction on the part of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, prompted by the bursting of the housing bubble.

On the flip side, someone seeking a low-cost refinancing of a mortgage on a house or opting for a 15-year loan rather than a 30-year would likely see lower fees.

Find the deal that fits

A good place to find the best current mortgage rates in your area is at Bankrate.com.

But you also need to take those risk-adjustment fees into account. The fees can be charged in a wide variety of scenarios and are based on things such as your credit score, the type of residence you’re refinancing and the loan-to-value ratio.

For instance, say a condominium owner with a credit score of 730 is doing a cash-out refinancing for 80 percent of the property’s appraised value on a 30-year fixed-rate loan. The owner would pay 2 percent of the loan amount for a loan-level price adjustment — pushing up the true cost of a low-cost refinancing.

For a $200,000 loan, that would amount to an extra $2,000. The borrower would then have two options: pay the fee at closing, along with other closing costs, or pay a higher interest rate on the loan.

Each item, such as credit score and loan-to-value ratio, varies from person to person. Those with lower credit scores or higher loan-to-value ratios, for example, would likely pay even higher adjustment fees.