With rates dropping across the board, you might be tempted to refinance your home as well. In fact, some boaters are rolling their boat loans into their home mortgages. There are upsides to combining your loans, says Robert Doyle of the Florida accounting firm Spoor, Doyle & Associates. Home loan interest rates are lower than marine rates, so your payment will be less. Also, the mortgage interest may be tax deductible. But there are downsides, too. "If you default on your boat," says Doyle, "creditors can come after your house as well as your boat." According to Landon, although people trade homes every eight years, boats go every three. Keeping the loans separate gives you more flexibility when it's time to sell your boat.
One caveat to the refinancing game: Tom Caruso, president of Total Marine in Mamaroneck, New York, notes that the super-low rates can be a little misleading because they tend to be valid only for high-dollar loans-generally more than $100,000. Anyone with, say, a $30,000 loan can count on a rate that's at least a couple percentage points higher.
Still, no matter what your financial situation, you have nothing to lose by calling your lender. And with some forecasters predicting an economic recovery soon-and a subsequent possible increase in interest rates-the time is now. "The difference may not be much," says Bartosh, "but if it puts a couple extra six-packs in your cooler, it's worth the effort."