Let’s walk through the basics of subordination, using a home equity line of credit (HELOC) as our primary example. Keep in mind that these concepts still apply if you have a home equity loan.
Subordination is the process of ranking home loans (mortgage, HELOC or home equity loan) by order of importance. When you have a home equity line of credit, for example, you actually have two loans – your mortgage and HELOC. Both are secured by the collateral in your home at the same time. Through subordination, lenders assign a “lien position” to these loans. Generally, your mortgage is assigned the first lien position while your HELOC becomes the second lien.
In a foreclosure, your mortgage and HELOC must be paid off with the equity in your home. Unfortunately, a home’s equity cannot always cover the full cost of both loans. Subordination addresses this problem with pre-established lien positions.
The first lien is always paid off first. (In this case, that’s your mortgage.) Equity can only be allocated to pay off the second lien once your mortgage is paid in full. If there were a third lien, it would be paid off after the second lien. And so on.
When there’s not enough equity to cover what’s owed on your second lien, the HELOC lender loses money. Subordination cannot magically pay off loans, but it does help lenders estimate risk and set appropriate interest rates.
Refinancing is the process of paying off your old mortgage and replacing it with a better one. When your mortgage is paid in full, the second lien (HELOC) automatically bumps up in priority. Your HELOC becomes the first lien, and your new mortgage becomes the second lien.
Unsurprisingly, mortgage lenders don’t like the risk associated with a second lien. A subordination agreement allows them to reassign your mortgage to first lien and your HELOC to second lien position.
Most subordination agreements are seamless. In fact, you may not realize what’s happening until you’re asked for a signature. Other times, delays or fees may take you by surprise. Here are a few important notes about the subordination process.
Despite its technical-sounding name, the subordination agreement has one simple purpose. It assigns your new mortgage to first lien position, making it possible to refinance with a home equity loan or line of credit. Signing your agreement is a positive step forward in your refinancing journey.
If you have questions about subordination, we’re here to help. Make an appointment with us today.