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Time To Refinance Home May Be Now

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – If you're one of the millions of Americans considering refinancing your home, time may be of the essence to take advantage of new programs being offered by the federal government.

Currently, the average rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage is 3.87 percent, which is one of the lowest rates in recent memory. It has some homeowners asking how low can they go.

"I couldn't believe that interest rates would go any lower than they were," said homeowner Whit Clay. "I mean five percent is pretty low."

But, for the Clays, the lower rates were too good to pass up and now they have locked in an ultra-low rate on their mortgage of 4.25 percent.

"The closing costs were wrapped into the mortgage," Whit said. "So we had no closing costs and ultimately what we ended up having was simply an appraisal fee and the cost of applying for a mortgage."

Still, the added costs can add up in a hurry. So it's important to do the math and figure out how much you'll save and whether the cost will be defeat the purpose of going through the entire process.

"If the rate is at least 3/4 of a percent lower and they expect to be in their property for the long haul then it's definitely a good idea," said Melissa Cohn, president of the Manhattan Mortgage Company.

Just don't expect the low rates to be around forever.

In order to pay for the payroll tax cut, Congress ordered mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to increase their fees and turn over the extra money to the U.S. Treasury.

The fees will be passed on to home buyers in the form of higher interest rates, some as much as one-tenth of a percent.

On a traditional $200,000 mortgage, that translates to an extra $5,400 over the lifetime of a 30-year-loan.

And homeowners are becoming very cognizant of this fact. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, refinancing activity has climbed nearly 9.5 percent in the last week.

So the window to take advantage of historically low rates is quickly closing and the time to act may be now.

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