Interested in refinancing home mortgage loans but not sure it makes financial sense? Learn how to crunch the numbers and make an informed financial decision rather than playing an expensive guessing game with these simple steps.

A lower interest rate can save you money each month on your mortgage and can save you thousands over the life of the loan. Is it possible to lower your debt and reduce monthly payments by taking out a new loan? Surprisingly the answer is often “yes”. Learn how to get a lower interest rate by refinancing without breaking the bank.

How Refinancing Works
Refinancing basically involves taking out a new loan which is used to pay off the prior mortgage. To put it another way, the new mortgage replaces the old one. This is especially helpful when interest rates have dropped since it allows homeowners to pay off older mortgages with a high interest rate in exchange for a new mortgage with a lower interest rate.

Getting a Lower Interest
To demonstrate how effective it is to lower your interest rate by refinancing, consider an example of a buyer who purchased a home for $210,000 in 2001. The original mortgage was $200,000 for a 30 year term with a fixed interest rate of 7 percent and monthly mortgage payment of $1330. Since the original down payment was only 5 percent or $10,000 plus closing costs, they also had to pay PMI or Private Mortgage Insurance of $125 per month.

Now that mortgage rates have dropped to 5 percent or even less, the homeowner is contemplating a refinance. The current balance on the home is $180,000 and the value of the home is appraised at $260,000. Since the home has 20 percent equity and the homeowner does not intend to take cash out at closing, they will automatically save $125 per month in PMI. By refinancing at a lower interest rate of 5 percent fixed for 30 years the new mortgage payment will be approximately $965 per month …a savings of nearly $400 plus the PMI of $125 for a total monthly savings of over $500 per month.

Notice that in the example above, the homeowner would experience a $500 per month savings by refinancing but in exchange, they would increase the duration of the loan back to 30 years. In order to not pay tens of thousands dollars in additional interest by extending the loan, it is often possible to refinance for a shorter period of time; 15, 20 and 25 year terms are available and may result in even lower interest rates.

Put the Money to Work
Many people find that by lowering their monthly mortgage payments after refinancing, they are able to put more money toward paying down other debts or even accelerating the mortgage payments on the new loan. It’s a great way to reduce your total monthly obligations and get a head-start on becoming debt free!

Steps to Decide on Refinancing Home Mortgage
Locate your current loan documents and determine the principle (amount owed on the home), interest rate and term/length of the loan. Be sure to pay special attention whether your interest rate is fixed, variable or a hybrid combination.

Compare current interest rates against your prevailing rate. Typical wisdom holds it usually makes sense to refinance if it will save 1 percent or more in interest. Calculate how much you will save on the monthly mortgage payment if you were refinancing your home mortgage at the current interest rate.

Add up the monthly anticipated savings then compare it to the closing costs and other fees required to refinance. Most people find a break-even point between 1 to 3 years after refinancing. If you intend to own the home for longer than that period of time, it often makes sense to refinance.

Tally up the total cost including years of interest paid. Even if you currently have a 30 year mortgage and hope to refinance your home mortgage, take time to compare other terms; for example, 15 to 20 year terms might be eligible for even lower interest rates plus result in a shorter term. In many cases homeowners can pay off their mortgage years ahead of schedule while still reducing monthly mortgage payments!

Compare against other terms and options. Take time to compare other alternatives; for example, it might make more sense to refinance with a 15 year loan and obtain an even lower interest rate plus dramatically reduced repayment term instead of a 30 year refinance. This is an especially attractive option for those that have owned their homes for an extended period of time and would be adding tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of a new 30 year repayment term. If 15 years is too high then ask about 20 year terms or even 25 year repayment plans. There are more options than ever when it comes to refinancing a home mortgage.

Shop around. Finally, it is always a good idea to shop around before making a final decision on refinancing your home mortgage. Find a mortgage lender you feel comfortable with and can trust because variations in terms, repayment plans, points and closing costs can dramatically influence the full cost of the loan.