Key takeaways

  • Refinancing your mortgage can help you save money or access cash, but you’ll need to first consider the closing costs.
  • When you refinance, you can expect to pay anywhere between 2 percent and 5 percent of the loan principal in closing costs.
  • You can save on the cost of refinancing by boosting your credit score, comparing mortgage terms and rates and negotiating closing costs.

How much does it cost to refinance?

The closing costs for a mortgage refinance vary according to the size of your loan and state and county where you live. The average refinance closing costs are $2,375, excluding any taxes, according to ClosingCorp.

Generally, you can expect to pay 2 percent to 5 percent of the loan principal amount in closing costs. For a $200,000 mortgage refinance, for example, your closing costs could run $4,000 to $10,000.

What is included in refinance closing costs?

Closing costs Fee
Application fee $75-$300 or more
Origination and/or underwriting fee 0.5%-1.5% of loan principal
Recording fee Cost depends on location
Appraisal fee $300-$400 (more for a larger property)
Credit check fee $25 or more
Title services $700-$900
Survey fee $150-$400
Attorney/closing fee $500 or more

How to lower the cost to refinance

1. Boost your credit score

Just as you aimed for a certain credit score when you applied for your first mortgage, you’ll need to meet credit score minimums to refinance, too. The better your credit, the lower your refinance rate. Among several strategies, you can boost your credit by paying down or paying off debt.

2. Compare mortgage offers and rates

To get the best mortgage refinance rate, compare offers from several banks and other mortgage refinance lenders. Make sure to look at APR to get a fuller sense of the loan’s cost. Consider working with a mortgage broker to get a range of offers. Always be sure to get a quote from your existing lender, too, in case it offers a lower-cost refi or other repeat customer benefits.

3. Negotiate closing costs

As with your first mortgage, look closely at the loan estimate from your lender to understand the exact cost to refinance. You might save yourself some money by negotiating closing costs, especially if you’ve shopped around and have more than one refinance offer in hand. You can use other quotes to check for unusually high fees, as well.

4. Ask for fee waivers

In the same vein, ask your bank or lender if it will waive or lower the application fee or credit check fee. You can also see if it will let you forgo a new home appraisal or property survey if you’ve recently had one done. Your lender might be willing to work with you, particularly if you’re an existing customer.

5. Assess whether to buy mortgage points

If you want to lower your mortgage refinance closing costs, consider whether buying mortgage or discount points is worth it. While buying points lowers your interest rate, it’s usually best only when you expect to own the home for a long time and don’t plan to refinance again — even to pay for a major renovation later on. You can use Bankrate’s mortgage refinance calculator to help determine whether it’s worthwhile to buy points when refinancing.

6. Go with your original title insurer

In many states, title rates are regulated, but you can try to cut down your title services costs by asking your current title insurance company how much it would charge to reissue the policy for your refinanced loan. Doing this might cost less than starting over with a new company or policy. In addition, if you didn’t obtain an owner’s policy the first time around, consider getting one now.

7. Consider a no-closing cost refinance

If you’re low on cash, consider a no-closing-cost refinance. The name is a bit deceiving, as this isn’t free; however, it means you won’t have to pay fees at closing. Instead, the lender will either raise your interest rate or fold the closing costs into the new loan.

Why refinance your mortgage?

Simply put, spending some money now can save you more money in the long run — or help you access cash. Here’s a rundown of some of the main reasons you might want to consider refinancing your mortgage:

  1. You can lower your monthly payment – If you have a fixed-rate mortgage with a rate that’s higher than market rates today, refinancing could help save you money on your monthly mortgage payment. In general, it’s a good idea to consider refinancing if you can lower your rate by one-half to three-quarters of a percentage point.
  2. You can shorten your loan term – You can refinance your 30-year mortgage to a 15 year loan to pay it off faster and for less interest overall.
  3. You can change from an adjustable-rate to a fixed-rate loan – If you have an adjustable-rate mortgage, you might decide to switch to a fixed rate.
  4. You can get rid of private mortgage insurance (PMI) – If your home’s value has gone up and you now have 20 percent equity, refinancing is one way to eliminate PMI.
  5. You can get cash for your goals – If you want to pay down credit card debt or make home improvements, you can do a cash-out refinance, provided you have enough equity. Be sure to have a clear goal in mind for these funds, and be realistic about your spending habits. Do you plan to use the money for a discretionary expense, like a vacation, or for an investment such as furthering your education? If you plan to refinance other higher-cost debt, are you likely to run up debt again?