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Mortgages & Refinancing

The Refinancing Runaround

Homeowners who want to refinance their first mortgage may face a new hurdle: second-lien holders who refuse to "resubordinate" -- that is, agree to queue up behind first-mortgage holders and risk being left out in the cold if you default.

"The second-mortgage lender is under no obligation to do you that favor," says Keith Gumbinger, of HSH Associates. He says lenders prefer that you close out your second loan altogether and pay it off. Gumbinger advises that you talk to your lender and emphasize that you've made your payments on time and that you're trying to refinance the first mortgage so that you can continue to make payments on the second.

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If you can't refinance, take advantage of recent rate cuts and lower monthly payments to build up a reserve fund in anticipation of future rate increases. If your house has fallen in value, ask a mortgage lender about the FHASecure program, which may allow you to refinance your debt into a single mortgage with as little as 3% equity.

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