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  • Refinancing is the replacement of an existing debt obligation with another debt obligation under different terms. The terms and conditions of refinancing may vary widely by country, province, or state, based on several economic factors such as inherent risk, projected risk, political stability of a nation, currency stability, banking regulations, borrower's credit worthiness, and credit rating of a nation. In many industrialized nations, a common form of refinancing is for a place of primary residency mortgage.

    If the replacement of debt occurs under financial distress, refinancing might be referred to as debt restructuring.

    A loan (debt) might be refinanced for various reasons:

    1. To take advantage of a better interest rate (a reduced monthly payment or a reduced term)
    2. To consolidate other debt(s) into one loan (a potentially longer/shorter term contingent on interest rate differential and fees)
    3. To reduce the monthly repayment amount (often for a longer term, contingent on interest rate differential and fees)
    4. To reduce or alter risk (for example, switching from a variable-rate to a fixed-rate loan)
    5. To free up cash (often for a longer term, contingent on interest rate differential and fees)

    Refinancing for reasons 2, 3, and 5 are usually undertaken by borrowers who are in financial difficulty in order to reduce their monthly repayment obligations, with the penalty that they will take longer to pay off their debt.

    In the context of personal (as opposed to corporate) finance, refinancing multiple debts makes management of the debt easier. If high-interest debt, such as credit card debt, is consolidated into the home mortgage, the borrower is able to pay off the remaining debt at mortgage rates over a longer period.

     

    Some fixed-term loans have penalty clauses ("call provisions") that are triggered by an early repayment of the loan, in part or in full, as well as "closing" fees. There will also be transaction fees on the refinancing. These fees must be calculated before embarking on a loan refinancing, as they can wipe out any savings generated through refinancing. Penalty clauses are only applicable to loans paid off prior to maturity. If a loan is paid off upon maturity it is a new financing, not a refinancing, and all terms of the prior obligation terminate when the new financing funds pay off the prior debt.

    If the refinanced loan has the same interest rate as previously, but a longer term, it will result in a larger total interest cost over the life of the loan, and will result in the borrower remaining in debt for many more years. Typically, a refinanced loan will have a lower interest rate. This lower rate, combined with the new, longer term remaining on the loan will lower payments.

    A borrower should calculate the total cost of a new loan compared to the existing loan. The new loan cost will include the closing costs, prepayment penalties (if any) and the interest paid over the life of the new loan. This should be lower than the remaining interest that will be paid on the existing loan to see if it makes financial sense to refinance.

    In some jurisdictions, varying by American state, refinanced mortgage loans are considered recourse debt, meaning that the borrower is liable in case of default, while un-refinanced mortgages are non-recourse debt.