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Refinancing Your Mortgage

posted Dec 16, 2009, 10:04 PM by Casey Elliott

Would you like to increase your monthly cash flow? Or maybe your children are nearing college and you're exploring options to finance their tuition? When interest rates drop, homeowners who financed their homes under higher rates often consider refinancing. The primary, tangible benefit of refinancing under lower interest rates is that it lowers your monthly payments -- sometimes significantly. In addition, refinancing can shorten the term of your mortgage and help you build equity faster.

Because refinancing a mortgage means essentially taking out a new mortgage, you'll encounter many of the same procedures the second time around. In most cases, borrowers pay off their original mortgages first.

Should You Refinance?

When deciding if refinancing is right for you, there are several factors to consider. Like the standard mortgage process, refinancing can be expensive and time-consuming. Some mortgage experts suggest a rule of thumb that refinancing is worth your while if the market interest rate is at least two points lower than your current loan's rate.

Others recommend that you weigh the costs of refinancing versus your monthly savings. Factors to consider include points, application and attorney's fees, appraisals, changes in tax benefits, and prepayment penalties.

You also may want to consider how long you plan to stay in the house. Some mortgage professionals advise that it generally takes at least three years to fully realize the savings from a lower interest rate, given the costs of refinancing. By following the above steps, you can determine how long it will take you to break even and start saving money. If you may move in the next couple of years, refinancing might cost you more than it will save you in the long run.

Who Benefits From Refinancing?

Homeowners in a variety of situations can benefit from refinancing. If you'd like to get out of a high-interest-rate loan to take advantage of lower rates, refinancing may be a good option. In addition, you may want to refinance if you're interested in trading in an adjustable-rate mortgage for a fixed-rate mortgage to ensure that your payments will be set for the life of the loan. Refinancing also can assist homeowners who want to convert to an adjustable-rate mortgage with a lower interest rate or more protective features. Other reasons to refinance include converting to a loan with a shorter term in order to build equity faster. Or, if you'd like to cash out your equity to use toward a major purchase, refinancing can do the trick. Whatever your situation, your mortgage professional can guide you through the refinancing process and discuss your options in greater detail.