This past year, many Americans took advantage of low interest rates by refinancing their mortgages, resulting in thousands of dollars in savings over the term of the mortgage. With news of recent increases in mortgage rates, many other consumers are wondering whether they've missed the boat on the refinancing boom, when in fact, rates are at near-historically low levels, and at their lowest in a year. It's still a great time to consider locking in today’s rates for a 15-, 20-, or 30-year term—especially if a consumer is facing an increase in rates from an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM).

"Contrary to what many think, it’s still a fantastic time to refinance, because it wasn't too long ago that rates were in double digits," says Keith Conner, vice president of Consumer Lending at MetLife Bank. "Whether a refinance is right for you depends upon several factors. Just asking a few questions can help you decide whether it’s a good time to contact a mortgage specialist."

Some questions to consider are:

  • How does the interest rate I’m paying compare to today’s market rates? Many consumers, out of inertia, never consider refinancing, even though they may be able to save a considerable amount of money each month—or shave off some time from the length of their mortgage—by refinancing.
  • Do I have any equity? As long as you have some equity in your home, you might be able to refinance or move from an ARM to a fixed-rate mortgage.
  • Is it possible to move to a more attractive ARM? If you have little or no equity, or you are locked into an ARM that is now squeezing you financially, you might be able to get some breathing room through a longer-term ARM, such as a 5/1 ARM, which locks in a rate for five years and adjusts after that.
  • What are the fees I’ll have to pay? Refinancing can save you money, but if the savings are small, the costs in fees for originating a new mortgage may eat up all the savings. Make sure you ask in advance what all the charges, costs, and legal fees will be.
  • How can I be sure I’m getting the best rate? In order to ensure you’re making the wisest refinancing decision possible, it pays to shop around, by using such rate-comparison sites as or One of the easiest ways is to ask for a best-rate guarantee. Some lenders will guarantee that their rate is the lowest in the market, as of the date of closing, and even agree to pay you a certain amount if they are not the lowest on that date. However, always make sure that you check the fine print on these offers.
  • If I have extra equity, should I take a larger mortgage? If you are comfortable with a slightly larger payment, you can think ahead: do you envision a new kitchen, bath remodel, or room addition in the next few years? You might avoid the cost and hassle of a home equity loan in the next few years, as well as the risk that rates will continue to rise, by taking out a slightly larger mortgage and using the additional proceeds to fund home improvements.

Finally, in order to face the future with confidence, consider financing your loans with companies that fit your busy lifestyle—and have the financial stability to back up their promises. "Not all home lenders are the same, and the smart consumer should take a good look at the rate the lender can provide, as well as the reputation that company has established," said Conner. "There are companies out there that will provide you with a variety of attractive perks, including a best price guarantee, a fast and easy application process, a speedy loan decision, and a guaranteed closing date." Regardless of the company, you should always evaluate the offer in relation to your individual circumstances.

To further aid consumers looking to refinance, MetLife Bank offers a variety of convenient calculators that can make the process of wading through the complexities of a mortgage or equity loan much easier. These include tools to determine whether it’s best for to rent an apartment or buy a home, an amortization calculator that can you determine how much you will pay (and for how long), calculators to determine how much house you can afford, how much you can expect to pay each month on a loan, and, for existing homeowners, a calculator designed to determine whether refinancing makes sense for you. They are available online at

MetLife Bank, NA (Member FDIC) is a federally chartered bank offering a wide array of banking products and services, including high-yield savings, certificates of deposit, money market accounts, individual retirement accounts and residential mortgages. For more information, please visit MetLife Bank is a subsidiary of MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET), a leading provider of insurance and financial services with operations throughout the U.S. and the Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific regions.

Mortgage products are provided by MetLife Bank, N.A. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender


David Hammarstrom