The savings are even greater for clients with higher mortgages. On a $700,000 mortgage, merely dropping the rate from 6% to 5.25% on a 15-year mortgage will save a client $300 a month, Abel says. "In some cases, depending on the interest rates, we can actually go from a 30-year to a 15-year, and clients are going to a lower monthly outlay," he says.

Other advisors may not have gone so far as to start their own mortgage firms, but they have been responding to an upswing in mortgage issues among their clientele. That has prompted advisors to seek out contacts in the lending and mortgage brokerage industries, and incorporate mortgage strategies into their financial planning.

At Family Financial Architects in Natick, Mass., mortgage reviews are a standard part of a client's financial plan, including an assessment of whether refinancing is warranted, says Cheryl Costa, an advisor at the firm. The firm will also shop for mortgages on behalf of clients, she says. The use of a home equity line may also be recommended depending on a client's situation, she adds.

"Providing these types of services is something special that you can do for your clients that they don't necessarily expect their planner to do but that they are really grateful for," Costa says. "Plus, the pay off to the client is immediate."

Lenders also say they're increasingly working with financial advisors and their clients. "You always did try to work with planners in the past, but as their businesses have grown in the last few years, it means that we end up dealing a lot more with them," says Victor Steiner, senior mortgage account executive with Penn Federal Savings Bank in West Orange, N.J.

The opportunities created by current interest rates have given people options-and the need for some professional advice to sort through them, he says. With rates as low as 5.35% on a 30-year fixed mortgage of up to $75,000, with no points, even someone with a 6.35% mortgage could stand to benefit from a refinancing, he says.

But even after the refinancing boom ends, Steiner feels advisors can still play a large role in their clients' mortgage-related issues. "I feel that for the average John and Jane out there, when they first consider buying a house, their first call should be to their financial planner, not their Realtor," he says. "It's such a big part of their overall life plan they need to sit down with an expert ... The planner is the only person who can logically say to them, 'This is what you can think about, this is what you can afford.'"

For some planners, particularly those who run a comprehensive "family office" style practice, mortgage advice has been a longstanding practice. About half the clients at Preston Financial Planning, a Cambridge Advisors affiliate in Providence, R.I., have been helped with mortgages in recent years, either through refinancing or home transactions, says Rebecca Preston, president of the firm. In addition to clarifying options for clients and setting targets, she feels it's also important for advisors to help clients choose the professionals who will complete the mortgage transactions. "It really helps to establish a relationship with a mortgage broker," she says.

At The Welch Group in Birmingham, Ala., annual reviews of client mortgages are the norm, says firm president Stewart Welch. In recent years, however, there's been a significant increase in how many of those reviews have led to refinancing or other changes, Welch says. He estimates the firm has helped up to 70% of the firm's 200 clients refinance mortgages during the past two years.

"In most of the cases, we are actually on the phone on their behalf, talking to mortgage brokers," he says, adding the firm will compare rates among brokers and try to negotiate for lower rates and fees. "What we have found is that with mortgage bankers, they actually have some wiggle room in terms of their fees."