AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar
This photo made on Jan. 27, 2011, shows a home for sale in Mount Lebanon, Pa. Conventional 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.06% in recent weeks, the lowest level in 60 years.

Thirty years is becoming too long for borrowers.

About 43 percent of American’s chose 15- or 20-year loans over the traditional 30-year loan when refinancing in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to U.S. News and World Report. That’s the highest number since the first quarter of 2003.

The reason for the switch is because the recession has shifted consumer focus towards paying down debt faster, Greg McBride, senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com, told U.S. News.

The shorter-term loans tend to have a higher monthly payment, but come with lower interest rates.

Many consumers are also shifting to fixed-rate mortgages from adjustable-rate. Interest rates for fixed-rate mortgages have hit historic lows, with the average rate sitting around 4 percent. Borrowers are switching to the safer fixed-rate option.

"A homeowner in the marginal 25 percent tax bracket is essentially borrowing the money for free when you factor in taxes and inflation," McBride told U.S. News.

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