What does refinancing a mortgage mean?
Refinancing a mortgage means paying off an existing loan and replacing it with a new one. There are many reasons why homeowners refinance: the opportunity to obtain a lower interest rate; the chance to shorten the term of their mortgage; the desire to convert from an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) to a fixed-rate mortgage, or vice versa; the opportunity to tap a home's equity in order to finance a large purchase; and the desire to consolidate debt.
Some of these motivations have benefits and pitfalls. And because refinancing can cost 3% to 6% of the loan's principal and – like taking out the original mortgage –requires appraisal, title search and application fees, it's important for a homeowner to determine whether his or her reason for refinancing offers a true benefit.