With mortgage rates holding below 5%, there has rarely been a better time to refinance your home. But with a one-two punch of tighter credit and falling prices roiling homeowners, the process has never been more difficult.In the Sacramento, Calif., area, Michael McGee of Winchester McGee Financial estimates that one in four of his customers can’t get a loan approved. In Plano, Texas, Rodney Anderson, a mortgage lender, says the rate sheet of mortgage programs he can offer customers has shrunk to two pages from 42 during the housing boom.That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t investigate your options. Lowering your mortgage payment — or at least locking in a long-term low rate — can free up cash for other needs, such as repaying other debt or replenishing your retirement accounts, while reducing your financial stress.

By Karen Blumenthal, May 20, 2009, WSJ

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