Have you heard? The housing industry is showing signs of a rebound. While this is great news economically speaking, it’s also a warning: if you’ve been sitting on the fence wondering whether or not you should refinance, now is the time. If you’re behind on your payments and worried about foreclosure, there may be new options available that you weren’t even aware of.

It’s an election year, so you’re going to hear a lot from both sides about the economy and jobs. But the reality is that a lot of people are still struggling to keep it together financially. Foreclosures still occur at alarming rates and many people are drowning to keep up with mortgage payments on homes that are now worth half what they were when purchased.

If you are planning to stay in your home longer than three more years, you will almost always benefit more from the refinance than you will lose in the cost of closing on the new loan. Today’s options for refinancing are so much better than what used to be in place. Not only has the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) worked to streamline forms so you can shop among lenders more easily, but the availability of programs like the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) is designed to help people quickly and easily refinance their homes, even if the value has dropped. This program has been extended through December 2013.

While you can talk to your current lender about streamline refinance options, you might want to consider shopping around, too. You can also get information from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Interest rates are still low, and some of the smaller, local banks are offering deals for homeowners wishing to refinance that make them worth investigating. While there are a number of options available when you’re having trouble making your house payments, from short selling your home to foreclosure to returning the home to the lender via deed in lieu of foreclosure, none of those options let you stay in your home and protect your credit.

If you want to remain in your home and protect your credit by not missing additional payments, there are many options available, including streamlined refinancing and loan modification. As the housing market begins to pick up, however, interest rates will start to climb and the banks may be less inclined to focus on helping people stay in their homes and focus more on selling the properties they own from all of the foreclosures they have processed, so now is the time to pull together your information and start investigating your options.

The Federal Reserve offers 5 Tips for homeowners to help put you on the right path – it’s a great place to start.