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Should You Refinance Your FHA Loan to a Regular Loan?

Mortgage refinance rates are steadily creeping upward, so if you’ve been toying with the idea of a refinance, it might be best to do it sooner rather than later. If you’ve got an FHA loan, you can go with a streamline refinance or transition to a conventional mortgage. Going with a conventional loan has some advantages, but it’s a good idea to weigh all the pros and cons before making a move.

Try out our free refinance calculator.

FHA Loans vs. Conventional Loans

First-time buyers often prefer FHA loans because the down payment requirements aren’t as stringent. But the Federal Housing Administration usually requires borrowers to pay a one-time upfront mortgage insurance premium (MIP) that’s 1.75% of the loan’s value. You would also be responsible for paying an annual premium that’s built into loan payments.

When you swap out your FHA loan for a conventional loan, you probably won’t have to worry about paying for mortgage insurance at all if the equity value you’ve built up in your home is above 20%. The end result could be a lower monthly payment and big savings.  And if you could keep that money in your pocket each year, you could put it toward other debts, build an emergency fund or save for retirement.

Find out now: How much should I save for retirement?

What Are the Drawbacks of a Conventional Loan Refinance?

Should You Refinance Your FHA Loan to a Regular Loan?

On the other hand, there are some costly disadvantages associated with refinancing an FHA loan to a traditional mortgage. The biggest upfront expense comes in the form of closing costs, which can be anywhere from 2% to 5% of the loan’s value. If you’re refinancing a $200,000 loan with closing costs of 3%, you’d have to bring $6,000 in cold hard cash to the closing table.

If you haven’t built up enough equity in the home, you’ll probably get stuck paying for private mortgage insurance (PMI) when you refinance. The combined costs of closing and PMI can zero out any savings in interest if you’re not getting a huge discount on the rate.

When an FHA Streamline Refinance Makes More Sense

The FHA Streamline Refinance program offers a refinance option for borrowers who want to save a little money on their mortgages. If you’ve kept up with your monthly payments for at least a year, you can apply for one without having your income, employment or credit verified.

If you’re trying to lower the cost of your mortgage payments but your credit isn’t in great shape, an FHA streamline refinance can do that for you without a lot of extra paperwork. You will, however, still have to make annual MIP payments, so it’s somewhat of a trade-off.

Related Article: All About FHA Purchase Loans

Shop Around for the Best Deal

Should You Refinance Your FHA Loan to a Regular Loan?

When you’re not sure whether a conventional or FHA refinance is best, taking a look at what lenders are offering might help. By weighing the costs of the mortgages and adding in closing costs, you can figure out which option will save you the most money.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/USGirl, ©iStock.com/blackred, ©iStock.com/vgajic

Rebecca Lake Rebecca has been writing about the nuts and bolts of personal finance since 2009. Her work has appeared on a number of popular finance sites, including the Quickbooks/Intuit small business blog and Money Crashers. As a homeschooling mom of two, she's always looking for ways to make the most of every dollar.

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