With interest rates low, many homeowners are considering refinancing their mortgages these days. But even if you have excellent credit and plenty of equity, there might be one last obstacle to overcome: your home equity loan.

There's a hierarchy in the lending world that describes which lenders get paid first in the event of a default. The oldest loan, which is the primary mortgage for most homeowners, is first in line, followed by any more recent loans, such as a home equity loan or line of credit. When it comes time to refinance your primary mortgage, most lenders will require it be placed back in the first position, even though it's no longer the oldest loan. This involves "resubordinating" your home equity loan -- or shuffling it from first in line to second in line.

To do this, homeowners must submit a resubordination request to the lender on their home equity loan. It can take over a month to process a resubordination request, especially as the recent spike in refinance activity pushing lenders to capacity. In some cases there will be a fee. In other cases you'll have to completely renegotiate the terms of your home equity loan or line of credit. Even so, there's no guarantee that your lender will agree to resubordinate the loan.

If they don't agree, you only have a couple of options to move forward on your refinance. Option one is to pay off the home equity loan or line of credit and close the account.