With interest rates at record lows (mid to low 4% range for 30 year conventional and FHA loans!), we are getting lots of calls for refinances. It is a perfect time to refinance your home (or to buy a new one!). The biggest problem people are having is the value of your current home. Usually I do a little research with my clients to make sure the value will be there before we spend money on an appraisal. But until we have the appraisal, there is no guarantee!!
If you have a FHA loan, you can do a streamline refinance without an appraisal. You will have to pay your closing costs or do a "no-cost" refinance where the lender gives you a slightly higher interest rate but uses that to pay your closing costs. VA loans allow the same thing with an Interest Rate Reduction Loan – the VA just wants you to lower your interest rate, you do not need an appraisal and you can roll your closing costs into the new mortgage.
Due to the low interest rates, most lenders are getting very busy and that means turn time gets longer. The best thing you can do to help in your refinance is to respond to your loan officer quickly. Sign the forms they need signed and return all the supporting documentation that they need (paystubs, w-2's, etc). Appraisals may take longer as appraisers are busier and underwriting will definitely take longer. When the appraiser calls to get into your home, allow them access as soon as you can.
If you are thinking about buying a home, with rates as low as they are, you will qualify for more home and your payment may be lower than you are expecting. No one knows how long these rates will stay around and I don't think many of us expected to see rates this low this year! If you are thinking about refinancing or buying, contact your loan officer to see what you can do! If you wait too long, rates may be higher and it may be harder to qualify for the house that you want!