Refinancing is often used to lower your interest rate. If rates have dropped since you last financed your home, you may want to consider refinancing. Other common reasons to refinance include paying off a balloon payment, converting an adjustable rate loan to a fixed rate loan or to extract cash equity in your home (cash out). A few reasons for cashing out include: home improvement, an education fund, and consolidating debt. However the total finance charges may be higher over the life of the loan.
Another way to convert equity in your home to cash is a "home equity" loan. A "home equity" loan is an alternative to refinancing if your home loan has a very low rate compared to current interest rates or if you have a prepayment penalty on your loan.