Refinance Your Mortgage Now

There's still time to take advantage of the lowest home mortgage rates in 30 years

Always the businessman, Charles David Moody Jr. of Atlanta was motivated to find a way to use falling interest rates to boost his disposable income. His decision: to refinance the remaining $450,000 on his 30-year, fixed-rate loan with a 7.25% interest rate through Atlanta’s Citizens Trust Bank. By refinancing to a 30-year, fixed-rate loan at 6.25%, the owner-operator of C.D. Moody Construction Co. Inc. (No. 92 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/ SERVICE 100 list with $30 million in sales) cut his monthly mortgage payment from $2,900 to about $2,200.

Moody plans to use the $8,400 he expects to save this year to expand his investments in stocks and help pay $25,000 in annual tuition costs for his 17-year-old son, Charles III, who plans to attend Morehouse College next year. Moody, 47, and his wife Karla, 46, a registered hospice nurse, are also saving to send their 16-year-old daughter, Karia, a high school sophomore, to college in another two years. “Refinancing has really helped us free up cash to pay toward tuition,” Moody says with a smile.

He cautions borrowers to make sure that they take any savings they realize from refinancing and turn it into an investment that will improve their financial outlook. “I wouldn’t take it and go buy a big-screen TV or some jewelry,” he says. “You want to use the savings on something that will bring you a good investment return or build value in an important asset.”

Moody is just one of a growing number of Americans who have jumped onto the refinancing bandwagon, a trend that is expected to continue throughout the year. Mark M. Zandi, Ph.D., chief economist and co-founder of Economy.com, says that more than $2.5 trillion in mortgages were refinanced over the last two years, and another $1.2 trillion in mortgages are expected to be refinanced in 2003, making up nearly 20% of all mortgage originations (refinances plus purchases) this year. The average rate on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage for the United States in 2003 is projected at 6.2%, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association of America. Millions of Americans have refinanced anywhere from one to three times since 2001, and Zandi suggests that there is still a fairly large pool of refinancing applicants in the marketplace. But experts say the refinancing stampede that hit record levels during the past two years will eventually slow.

Consumers who refinance stand to benefit in a number of ways. They can cut their interest rate, which reduces mortgage terms and interest expense and increases their overall cash flow. They can also take out built-up equity in their home to pay off outstanding debt, such as credit cards, or make home improvements to increase the overall value of their home.

When Lori Allen of Reeders, Pennsylvania, refinanced her home mortgage in January, it helped solve a number of cash flow problems. The 39-year-old financial assistant at Aventis Pharmaceuticals needed to pay off $4,500 in school, municipal, and property taxes that threatened to setback attempts to improve her damaged credit rating. Also,

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