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(StatePoint)—Mortgage rates have recently hit near-record lows and Freddie Mac predicts rates will remain low for the foreseeable future.
If you haven’t already taken advantage of the low-rate environment to refinance your home, experts say it’s worth considering.
“There are lots of reasons to refinance your home mortgage when rates go down,” says Liz Bryant, national sales manager for Wells Fargo Home Lending. “Lower rates can reduce your payment, shorten the overall length of your loan or provide you access to cash that you can use for home improvements or other expenses.”
Here are a few things to consider if you’re thinking of taking that step:
•It may make sense to refinance if your goal is to reduce your monthly payment as well as the interest you will pay over the life of the loan. A mortgage consultant or refinancing calculator can help you decide. Reducing your payment will free up money for saving, investing or spending in other ways.
•Refinancing can shorten the length of your loan, for example, by reducing your loan from a 30-year repayment period to 15 or even 10. That can allow you to pay the loan off faster and reduce the amount of interest you pay. But, depending on your individual situation, it could mean a larger monthly payment.
•Some homeowners refinance to tap into available equity. This can be useful if you’re paying for a large project like a home renovation or are making another large purchase. You should talk to a home mortgage consultant to see if a cash-out refinance fits into your long-term financial goals or whether a home equity line of credit makes more sense for this need.
•If you have built up equity in your home, you may want to consider refinancing to remove mortgage insurance. Typically, you can request your lender to remove mortgage insurance if you show you have at least 20 percent equity in your home. However, if you have a government-backed mortgage, you will need to refinance to a conventional loan to remove your mortgage insurance, which will reduce your monthly payment. You can find more details at yourhomematters.wf.com
•Finally, if you want to move out of an adjustable-rate mortgage and into a fixed-rate one, refinancing may make sense. Depending on rates, your payment could be higher, but doing so will protect you against rising rates in the future.
“If you’re thinking of refinancing, take some time to do some research and talk to your mortgage lender,” says Bryant. “Refinancing may save you money over the long-term and help you achieve your financial goals.