We keep hearing about all those homeowners who want to get their mortgages refinanced but can't, but we seldom hear much about the wisdom of whether or not you should seek to refinance in the first place. It is not always as cut and dry as it might seem.

With that in mind, and courtesy of the Salt Lake Tribune, a few quick pointers on how -- and when -- to refinance your mortgage.

Right now, mortgage rates are at some of their lowest levels since World War II (you know, the "black and white" war) which is why in October, an estimated 66% of all mortgage applications were for refinancing to a lower rate.

But, says the Tribune, quoting a California based real estate lawyer, in order to really benefit from refinancing, the going rate should be at least "0.50 percent lower than your current mortgage."

It is important to take into consideration that the actual cost of any refinance would end up chipping away at any savings you may get from the lowered rate. Therefore, real estate lawyer Timothy McFarlin tells the Tribune, "many consumers these days will need at least a 1 percent difference in rate to truly come out ahead."

You should, of course, ask the lending institution that holds the mortgage whether it can offer you a no-fee refinancing. I know, in this day and age of greed, it seems highly unlikely that your lender would even consider this. But it never hurts to ask and, to keep you as a customer, (provided, that is, that you are a good one) the lender just may agree to waive fees for the refinancing. A win-win situation, really.

Because a revitalized (we can only hope) economy translates into higher interest rates eventually, those with adjustable-rate mortgages, says the paper, may be wise to try and move into a fixed rate loan as soon as possible to lock in the lowest rate possible now.

Of course, there are many other factors that you should consider before taking the steps toward refinancing your mortgage, but these small tips should help point you in the right direction.

Charles Feldman is a journalist, media consultant and co-author of the book, "No Time To Think-The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour News Cycle."


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