Mortgage interest rates are much lower than experts thought they would be this time of year.

"They've dropped a ton and it was not expected," said Shivani Peterson, a Mortgage Advisor with All Western Mortgage. "Analysts were saying they would be higher than 5% at this point in the year, but they've gone down and now we're looking at rates on a 30-year-fix that are below 4%."

She says a lot of people are looking to refinance this time of year.

"The amount of people looking to refinance right now has been huge," Peterson said. "Because of the drop in interest rates and increased property values a lot of people bought six months ago and can improve their rate almost a full point now."

But is that too soon?

"A lot of times people think they shouldn't refinance because they're so new into this mortgage, but it's not a big deal at all," Peterson said. "You should refinance if it makes sense, if there's enough monthly savings and enough long-term savings, it's never too soon to do that."

So what should you look at if you're looking to refinance?

"The best thing to do if you're considering  a refinance is to contact a lender, ask for a couple difference refinance options and then ask for them to be compared with your current loan on a monthly basis, a 5-year basis and a 15-year basis," Peterson said. "Then you'll be able to see what your cash to close would look like, what the costs associated with refinancing are like, and what your proposed monthly savings would be."

Something to look out for - the appraised value the lender is using for your home.

"One thing to be really careful about if you're doing a refinance based on increased property value is check the value that your lender is estimating because you know your home," Peterson said. "So ask them for the comps they've pulled, see if those comps are homes that are really similar to yours because if they've overestimated the appraised value, it's going to directly impact your refinance. That's one of the first things to check when you're looking at a refinance."

And the impact to your credit?

"When you have a mortgage banker pull your credit, there's a slight impact to your credit score for the hard inquiry," Peterson said. "That's going to balance out when the credit bureaus see that you didn't open a bunch of new debt, so a refinance is not a negative thing to do in terms of your credit score."

She says a refinance is specific to your home, the market and your finances so it's wise to take a look at all the options if it's something you're considering.

"A refinance can serve a great purpose because if it's going to save you money on a monthly basis, that's awesome because that's money you could do something better with than pay for a mortgage," Peterson said. "A lot of  people focus on the monthly payment and the interest rate but you should also check how this loan is going to play out over the long term. That will protect you from making an impulse decision. An interest rate can be shiny and pretty but can have costs associated with it so if you ask your lender to compare your current loan with your proposed refinance, you'll see what your net savings are going to be in a little bit longer term and see if the refinance is worth the monthly savings."