Refinancing: Now Is a Good Time to Lock In

Minnesota state trooper Pat Miles wanted to make sure he didn't miss an opportunity to grab a super-low interest rate when he refinanced his mortgage in November. "We refinanced our town home because I had this fear that rates would start creeping up a bit, and we wanted to save a little bit of money," he said. With a new rate of 4.375 percent, he was able to save $100 a month--and just in the nick of time.

If you've been thinking of refinancing your mortgage for a while, now may be the time to take action. A survey of economists in December revealed that most expected the Fed funds rate--the interest rate used to determine a variety of loans--to stay close to 0 percent for another year. But that doesn't mean that mortgage interest rates won't begin to creep up in 2011.

Rates increased in mid-November to 4.46 percent from 4.28 percent on a 30-year mortgage, due to stronger economic data and lingering uncertainty regarding the impact of the Fed's QE2 program, said Michael Fratantoni, the Mortgage Banker's Association vice president of research and economics. More recently, as of the week ending January 21, the 30-year rate was up to 4.8 percent from 4.77 percent.

Although rates are still quite low compared with the early 2000s, some people are holding off on refinancing in the hope that the Fed's plans to pump $600 billion into the economy through the purchase of long-term Treasuries will lower interest rates even further. But experts consulted by AOL Real Estate say that scenario is not very likely.

They expect rates to rise, albeit at a slower pace than if the Fed had not stepped in, which means there are still good refinancing deals to be had for homeowners who act now.