Historic lows in the home loan market are driving thousands of people to refinance their homes. After a long time on hold, that includes me.

When we bought our house in October 1999, we got in at a mortgage interest rate of 7.75%. That wasn’t bad in the grand scheme of things. “Decent” is what I’d call it. But when we refinanced in April 2001, we were ecstatic to lock in at 6.125%. By historic standards, it kicked butt and took names. Plus, even with our monthly prepayments, we shaved $22,000 in interest off the original loan and, just as importantly, were looking at owning the house free and clear in another 12.5 years.

It’s been just over two years since that refi, and rates have continued to plunge. Indeed, the mortgage market has been the only area of the economy to do well under the Bush reign. Unless you have unusual financial circumstances (which you very well may), now is an excellent time to look at refinancing an existing mortgage. Usually rates have to be 1 to 2 percentage points lower than your present loan in order for a refi to make sense, but with 30 year rates at 5.25 percent or less and 15 year rates sub-5 percent, that may be the case. It was for us.

After multiple redials and a lengthy phone hold time this morning, we locked in a rate of 4.897%, which will cut another $7,000 in interest off the life of our mortgage. We’re looking at having the house paid off in just under 8 years. There are even better rates available if you’re willing to go through a mortgage broker, but I didn’t want my loan to be sold, I needed to be able to prepay (not all mortgages allow this without penalty), and I trust USAA. Consider me a happy camper (head cold or not).