For Mark Roberts’ Use: Many seniors hope to pay off their mortgages before they retire, allowing for a roomier budget and a more comfortable lifestyle. However, this isn’t always possible for everyone, so one thing some retirees choose to do is refinance their current mortgages. Since interest rates remain very low right now, this might be a smart idea if you originally purchased the home at a much higher interest rate. You could end up with a significantly lower monthly payment.

Before you call your loan officer, though, there are a few things you should consider:

How long do you expect to stay in the home? Any time a loan is refinanced, there are costs associated with the process such as attorney fees, title insurance, processing fees, and so on. If you’re planning to sell the house and move to Florida next year, the difference in your monthly payment probably won’t make up for loan transaction charges.

What is the difference in interest rates? It’s often not worthwhile to refinance just to achieve a half-point reduction in your interest rate. But if you’re dropping a full point or two, or perhaps even more, then the cost associated with refinancing is probably worth it.

Would a fixed-rate or adjustable-rate mortgage be better? If you expect to stay in the home a long time, you’ll most likely fare better with a fixed-rate mortgage. But if you plan to move in a few years, and you’ve decided the loan transaction fees aren’t too steep, an adjustable rate mortgage might be a better deal. The interest rates are often even lower with these loans, so you could really make some room in your budget.

The downside is that the rate is indeed adjustable, and if rates rise quickly over the next couple of years you might end up with a bigger monthly payment than you had expected. You also have to accept the risk that your house may not sell when you had hoped, and you could be stuck with a payment you didn’t want.

The bottom line is that while interest rates are low right now, don’t jump the gun. Consider all your options carefully, and consult with your financial advisor about other ways to create a more comfortable budget.