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      Mortgage applications on the rise

      Quincy, IL-- As you look through the newspaper, many of you may have probably noticed more and more ads for refinancing.

      In fact, earlier this month, a trade survey showed mortgage applications jumped because of low interest rates. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, about 73% of applications came from borrowers who wanted to refinance home loans, rather than purchase homes.

      But is now really a good time to refinance *your* home?

      Ron Kelly is the Vice President of Heartland Bank and Trust Company in Quincy. He told us that about 90% of his customer's request involve refinancing. Kelly says that the rate now on a 30-year loan is in the low 5% range. He says for a 15-year loan, you could get a rate well under 5%

      "When you're talking about someone's home loan, particularly now, rates are at an all time low," said Ron Kelly.

      Kelly says refinancing may be a very wise process, but there are questions you need to ask yourself before you jump in head first.

      Kelly says," When you want to evaluate your desire to refinance, you have to look at several variables. First, ask yourself are you going to gain an advantage on the current rate versus what I'm paying now?"

      Here are other factors to consider. Ask yourself how much longer will you stay in your home. If you don't intend to be there for a long period of time, refinancing may not be the best option. Kelly says because there will be costs, you need to consider how long it will take for you to recover from those costs. He says you should also compare loan programs to help you decide what's right for you. Is the loan a better program or equal to the loan you currently have now? Kelly says it's also important to maintain your credit worthiness once you've purchased your dream home, because that will always be a deciding factor.

      "The Banks are going to look at that same criteria we looked at when you first bought that home today. Rates and loans are available, but they're only going to be available to those borrower who are credit worthy to obtain those loans," Kelly said.

      Besides your credit score, the bank will look at your payment history to see how well you've paid others in the past. That lets lenders know how you'll pay them. Overall, Kelly says make sure you get all the facts so you can make an informed decision.

      We also asked Ron Kelly about other loans to refinance. We found out the dos and don'ts for refinancing cars, boats and small business loans.

      "Typically those types of loans are short term. Can you gain a lot of advantage by refinancing those, because there maybe some other costs related in those. I would say that would be the least likely loan that I'd be in the position to refinance," Kelly said.

      Kelly says he doesn't rule those types of loans out completely. But he says it's important that you talk to your bank about the values you'd gain from them, to make sure it's a good move for you.