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An offer to cut our mortgage rate

Chris Farrell Aug 25, 2011

Question: Yesterday we received, in a UPS Express envelope, an offer from the holder of our mortgage, Chase, to lower our mortgage rate by over 1% (fixed) because of our “strong payment history.” There will be no closing costs. However, we have to respond in the next few days because “financial conditions are constantly changing.” Are there any problems with this offer? Bill, Fort Collins, CO

Answer: The first thing to do is make sure it’s a legitimate offer from Chase and not a scam by a con artist. (The pressure to do a deal quickly because “financial conditions are constantly changing” is a traditional warning bell.) I would take the envelope with you to a Chase branch in town or call the bank’s mortgage department (and look up the number yourself; don’t trust the papers in the envelope). That may be the end of it.

However, let’s assume it’s a legitimate offer from Chase. The rate reduction probably comes from a program that limited to homeowners with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage-conforming loans. The program was designed to help out folks in financial stress, but banks have balanced out the risk by doing deals with people like you with a strong payment history.

Again, assuming it’s a legitimate deal, you’ll still want to run the numbers. Depending on how old is your mortgage you could come out ahead sticking with your current higher rate mortgage rather than switching. Confirm over and over again that there are no hidden fees, either.

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