Many people have held off refinancing for a variety of reasons.  However, it is still not too late to take advantage of historic low mortgage rates that are currently available. 

Here are four angles to evaluate if the time is right for you to refinance. The process to refinance is easy and fast … and surprisingly affordable, given the savings you can recover. Often appraisals can be waived due to the rising real estate market values.

• Lower your current rate. Depending on the size of your mortgage and how many years you have left, it might make sense to consider a refinance even if the new rate is only 0.5% lower than what shows on your mortgage statement. Refinancing to a lower rate is a guaranteed savings that could put tens of thousands in dollars in your pocket.

• Shorten your term. Reducing your term from a 30-year mortgage to, for example, a 20-year mortgage can again save you tens of thousands of dollars over time. You might now be in a better position to afford the higher payment that comes with a shorter term. Shorter term mortgages also carry a lower interest rate than 30-year loans.

• Convert from an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) to a fixed rate mortgage. ARM mortgages carry the risk of a future (higher) interest rate after the initial fixed rate period expires. Currently, the fixed mortgage rates are very attractive, and you can lock in a fixed rate for the remainder of the term. This gives you predictability in payments and lowering your risk.

• Take out equity, to pay off debt or fund home improvements. Rising real estate values across the nation means there is more room to extract that equity at favorable rates. You might have some nagging credit card debt you want to consolidate; perhaps you have a variable rate (e.g. risky) HELOC that you want to pay off and roll into the primary mortgage; or maybe you just need some extra cash for a rainy-day fund or to fund college costs. 

Lastly, investing back into your home is historically one of the best investments you can make … and you get to enjoy the improvements while you live there

As you can see, there are many reasons to consider a refinance.  Perhaps most importantly is that your home and your mortgage are arguably the biggest investment (and debt) you have. It warrants careful analysis by a professional. Do not just “park” your mortgage for 30 years and assume it is fine.

Klaus Jensen is a senior vice president and loan officer with Guaranteed Rate. klaus.jensen@rate.com