For many people, refinancing their mortgage is another way of saying 'renewal'. Their bank or lender calls them up and says, "It's time to renew your mortgage." They have a short discussion on the phone, which results in the signing of new papers for another term, without too much thought. However, this isn't really refinancing.
Refinancing is generally something you do to get access to the equity in your property.
Refinancing is a necessity for some because they need some extra money for the house. They want to make use of some of the equity that has built up in their property. This means that they need to negotiate for a new mortgage - at a higher amount than they had before.
And then again, it could be that your interest rate on your mortgage is too high, and you want to refinance to get that rate down. If you negotiated a mortgage when your credit rating was not as good, and you've repaired your credit now through a good track record of payments, you should certainly refinance. In a volatile interest rate market where rates are dropping and you are locked in at a much higher rate, it can be to your advantage to pay those penalty clauses and get yourself a better interest rate.
Your best reason to refinance is to lower your interest rate and consolidate your debt. Of all the reasons to refinance, this is one where you are going to benefit without a doubt. If you are carrying a lot of credit card debt and are finding yourself in over your head, refinancing can get you out of the hole and in position to turn your financial situation around.
Regardless of the reason that you are looking at refinancing, you should weigh all the pros and cons carefully.
Always be sure that you are lowering your overall interest costs when you refinance. You should check this even when you want to refinance to get access to money to renovate. If you could buy your materials through a no interest deal with a home renovation store, you might not really benefit by refinancing now. Many of the large stores in home renovations have credit cards that will give you 6 months no interest. The trick is that you have to be willing to pay the purchase off in that time period, or pay the much-higher credit card interest rates.
In general, however, the "cheaper" the cost of borrowing, the better it is for you. If you take that credit card and find that you won't be able to pay it off before the no interest period is over, you should consider refinancing. It will save you a lot of money over any credit card debt.
Mortgage Guide 101. Used with permission.