NEW YORK (MONEY Magazine) - Even when mortgage rates rise, you might still consider refinancing your home if one of the following holds true:
* Interest rates are still lower than when you took out your loan, even by just a half to three-quarters of a point.
* Your credit score has improved by 25 points or more.
* You've paid down enough of your mortgage to turn a jumbo loan (which, in 2004, is more than $333,700 for a single-family house) into a conforming loan.
* Your situation is so dire that you need to think about stretching out the term of your loan even if you don't get a better rate.
The farther along you are into your mortgage, the more you can lower your payments with a refi.
So how do you proceed? Call your current lender and ask about a "streamlined refi," which has less paperwork, fewer administrative hassles and substantially lower costs than a regular refi.
If you can't get your lender to play ball, shop around.
There is no single source for the best rates on a mortgage these days. Check local lenders, online lenders and mortgage brokers to see whether any of them can give you a rate that makes the deal worth doing.
If you find a rate that works for you, lock it in. Rates can move as much as half a point from week to week.
FOUND MONEY: $______/MONTH