Obama Says Now Is Good Time to Refinance

by Francine Huff
April 16th, 2009

President Barack Obama wants homeowners to refinance their mortgages to help the economy. Should you? Here are some things to consider as you decide whether refinancing your home makes sense at this time.

Obama recently discussed at a press conference how Americans could benefit from lower mortgage interest rates. The average mortgage interest rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage is 4.78%. “The main message we want to send today is there are 7 to 9 million people across the country who right now could be taking advantage of lower mortgage rates. That is money in their pocket,” Obama said.

There were about 5.4 million homeowners who are at least one month late with their mortgage payments or in foreclosure at the end of 2008, according to the Lawrence Journal-World & News. About half of homeowners with subprime mortgages are struggling to make payments.

If you are among those struggling, a mortgage refinance could help you get back on track with your payments. But even if you’re currently making mortgage payments on time, refinancing could help improve your overall cash flow. Also, refinancing an adjustable rate mortgage could allow you to get a loan with fixed payments.

The government has set up the Making Home Affordable program to help homeowners who have mortgages guaranteed by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. But even if you don’t qualify for these programs, it could pay to shop around to see if you qualify for a mortgage refinance. Bank of America and Wells Fargo are among the private banks that have announced programs to help homeowners refinance.

But keep in mind that mortgage lenders are more likely to work with you if you have a steady income and good credit. Also, having a steady payment history on your current mortgage and other bills will work in your favor.

If you think refinancing could help you weather today’s mortgage climate, seek out reputable lenders today. However, if you are over 62 and don’t think it makes sense to refinance your mortgage but still need help, you may want to shop around for a reverse mortgage deal. A reverse mortgage is a loan against your home that will allow you to tap into the equity you’ve built up.

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