Freddie Mac says 77% of homeowners who refinanced first-lien mortgages in the second quarter either reduced principal loan amounts or maintained the same loan value while benefiting from historically low interest rates. Of those who refinanced, 51% ended up with the same loan amount, while 26% lowered their principal balance in 2Q, according to second-quarter refinance analysis from Freddie Mac. Meanwhile, the median interest rate reduction for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage was about one percentage point, or an interest rate savings of 18%. Those same borrowers will save about $1,550 in interest payments on a $200,000 loan during the first year of the refinanced loan's life, Freddie said. “Savvy homeowners are taking advantage of some of the lowest fixed-rates in more than 50 years to lock in interest savings," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie's vice president and chief economist. "Over the first half of 2011, fixed-rate mortgage rates hit a low during June, with the 30-year product averaging 4.50 percent and 15-year averaging 3.68 percent over the last four weeks of June," Freddie said in its Primary Mortgage Market Survey. About $7.5 billion in home equity was converted to cash in the second quarter due to refinancings on conventional, prime-credit mortgages, the GSE added in its report. Adjusted for inflation, the total amount of equity turned to cash reached its lowest level since 1996. Write to Kerri Panchuk.