I noticed you mentioned that you don’t have any credit card debt. That’s great! I don’t know how much student loan debt she has(and I’m not asking). Also too, you have a car loan at 20k and and a HY & retirement account.
With all that said, I side with @des about applying for a mortgage. I side with @ajayakumar about checking her(wouldn’t hurt to check yours too)credit score.
Checking your credit score can be done a couple of ways. You can go to annualcreditscore.com and get your free credit score. You can do this once a year for free. The other option is, signing up for Credit Karma and Experian. They both offer free credit monitoring. A little known secret about Experian. Experian offers Experian Boost for free(I would suggest getting it asap because there’s no telling when Experian will get wise to people using this feature and they start charging for it). How Experian Boost works is, I’m sure you pay utilities like Gas & Electric, cell phone/home phone, etc. Well, Experian Boost uses those on time payments(3 consecutive months minimum)and that will boost your score about 10 to 15 points per utility. You can’t use cash, check or Venmo to pay the bill(but, if you pay the bill with debit card tied to bank account it will accept that). You also have to add a checking account so you can get the boosts. The only downside is, this only boosts Experian Credit Score.
Here are my suggestions on the matter. Even though you have no credit card debit, credit utilization is a big factor that affects your credit score. What I would suggest is use about 10% of your credit limit but pay it off as soon as you can(preferably before the due date, usually if it’s paid on the due date you pay interest too, if I’m not mistaken). Do by all means pay it all off. Doing this will bump your score up(may not be significant but, every little bit helps).
Now concerning refinancing the student loan. That’s great, I hope you catch a break on interest. After it’s refinanced and she knows what payments are, here’s an idea. If it’s possible pay a little more than the actual payment amount. The reason I suggest this is, you won’t get slammed with the interest fees. In essence you’ll pay less interest that way and you won’t pay to much more than you borrowed. This also could be applied to the auto loan too.
Just want to say, I’m NOT a financial adviser. I’m just an average Joe, trying to repair my credit from a fabulous disaster. The information I have shared are things I’ve learned from this site and abroad. My hope is that what I share may help someone.