Rough time refinancing? Try again.

Feb 7, 2012

Is it true that there there's a bank vault out there full of cold, hard cash that's now available to people trying to refinance? That's what KPLU's John Maynard asked Seattle-area real estate appraiser Richard Hagar when he dropped by KPLU's studios recently. Without skipping a beat, Hagar responded:

"The good news is if you've missed some mortgage payments or you were in foreclosure, banks now have more cash available. And they've loosened up the purse strings a bit."

Hagar also says that with interest rates now at 4 percent or lower on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, it's a phenomenal time to refinance. Or,  if you're in the foreclosure process, maybe you can cure your default and get out of it.

Beware of refinance predators

When you're going online to look into refinancing, particularly if you're in foreclosure, Hagar says watch out for the false ads. He says the legitimate government website to get free information is HUD.gov. But he also says it's easy to type HUD into your search engine and come up with bogus sites with names such as HUD.com, HUD.net, and ForeclosureHUD.com.

Maynard calls the guys who run these sites "carnival barkers."

"They want to guide you through the process while raking a little off the top, yes?"

Yes, says Hagar. And often they give bad advice. So he says, stick with the ".gov" site, get the information you need without paying a dime, and then go to your local bank and ask for a new loan.

Things are looking up, stresses Hagar. Nationwide, foreclosures are starting to decline. Easier access to money for refinancing is part of what's helping that along.

Street Cents” is a monthly feature exploring real estate trends in the Northwest. The feature is published here and airs on KPLU 88.5 on the first Tuesday of the month during Morning Edition, All Things Considered and on Weekend Saturday Edition.