Mortgage refinancing can provide a number of benefits. These will vary from borrower to borrower, depending on what they're looking to achieve. But a refinance will generally provide one or more of the following:

A better mortgage rate

This may be the most common reason for refinancing. If mortgage rates have fallen since you took out the loan, you can often save money by refinancing into a new home loan at current rates. Or perhaps your credit situation has improved, so you're eligible for a lower rate.

Lower monthly payments

With a lower interest rate, you can get lower monthly payments as well, particularly if your refinanced mortgage has the same payoff date as your old home loan. You can also lower your monthly mortgage payments by extending your payoff date past what it currently is, so you're paying less in principle each month.

More predictable costs

If you currently have an ARM (adjustable-rate mortgage), you may choose to refinance to a fixed-rate loan to lock in your rate for the remainder of your mortgage. That way, you don't have to worry about your monthly payments increasing if rates should rise.

Shorten your term

Many borrowers start out with a 30-year home loan, then refinance to a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage after a few years. This allows them to pay the mortgage off faster and save a lot of money in interest over the life of the loan. Mortgage rates on 15-year loans are also significantly lower than on 30-year mortgages, so you may be able to shorten your term without a big increase in your monthly mortgage payment.

Borrow money

With a cash-out refinance, you can borrow against your home equity to obtain funds for any purpose. You receive a check at closing, the amount of which is added onto the mortgage principle you owe. Since mortgage rates tend to be lower than other types of debt and tax-deductible as well, it can be a very cost-efficient way to borrow.

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How does a cash-out refinance work?
Cash-out refinance or second mortgage?

Consolidate debts

You can use a cash-out refinance to pay off other debts to save money on interest and reduce your total monthly payments. Mortgage rates are usually lower than the interest rates paid on credit cards and other unsecured debt, so you save on interest payments.

Mortgages can also be repaid over longer terms than most other types of debt, up to 30 years, so you can reduce your monthly payments against debt principle, if that's your goal.

Interest paid on mortgages and home equity loans is also tax-deductible, up to certain limits, whereas interest paid on other debts usually is not. Couples can deduct the interest paid on up to $100,000 obtained through a cash-out refinance for debt consolidation; for single persons the limit is $50,000.

Combine two mortgages into one

You can also combine a second mortgage or HELOC (home equity line of credit) into a single primary mortgage at a lower rate. This is like a cash-out refinance, but because you're using it to pay off secondary mortgages, you're not reducing your home equity, other than for any closing costs you might roll into the loan. You also get the convenience of a single monthly payment, instead of two or more.

Cancel mortgage insurance

If you have lender-paid mortgage insurance, you can refinance once you reach 20 percent equity to eliminate the premium that's built into your interest rate. The same also applies to certain FHA home loans that require mortgage insurance for the life of the loan.

Remove a person from a mortgage

There are times, usually after a divorce, when someone who originally signed onto a mortgage is no longer to be held financially responsible for the loan. The only way to get them off the mortgage is by refinancing. This can also be used to remove the name of a co-signer whose support is no longer necessary and wishes to be freed of liability.

Published on October 24, 2015