Differences between adjustable and fixed loans

With a fixed-rate loan, your monthly payment never changes for the life of your mortgage. The portion of the payment that goes for principal (the actual loan amount) will increase, but the amount you pay in interest will decrease accordingly. The property taxes and homeowners insurance which are almost always part of the payment will increase over time, but in general, payments on these types of loans vary little.

During the early amortization period of a fixed-rate loan, a large percentage of your monthly payment goes toward interest, and a much smaller part goes to principal. The amount paid toward principal increases up slowly each month.

Borrowers can choose a fixed-rate loan in order to lock in a low interest rate. People select these types of loans when interest rates are low and they want to lock in at this lower rate. For homeowners who have an ARM now, refinancing into a fixed-rate loan can offer more monthly payment stability. If you have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) now, we can assist you in locking a fixed-rate at a good rate. Call Carter Financial Solutions at 866-840-8745 x2 to learn more.

Adjustable Rate Mortgages — ARMs, as we called them above — come in even more varieties. Generally, interest on ARMs are based on a federal index. Some examples of outside indexes are: the 6-month CD rate, the one-year rate on Treasure Securities, the Federal Home Loan Bank's 11th District Cost of Funds Index (COFI), or others.

Most ARM programs feature a cap that protects you from sudden increases in monthly payments. Your ARM may feature a cap on interest rate increases over the course of a year. For example: no more than two percent a year, even though the underlying index increases by more than two percent. Your loan may have a "payment cap" that instead of capping the interest directly, caps the amount the payment can increase in a given period. Almost all ARMs also cap your rate over the life of the loan.

ARMs most often feature their lowest, most attractive rates toward the start. They usually provide the lower interest rate from a month to ten years. You've likely read about 5/1 or 3/1 ARMs. For these loans, the introductory rate is set for three or five years. It then adjusts every year. These kinds of loans are fixed for 3 or 5 years, then adjust. These loans are often best for people who anticipate moving in three or five years. These types of adjustable rate programs most benefit borrowers who will move before the initial lock expires.

Most borrowers who choose ARMs do so because they want to get lower introductory rates and do not plan to stay in the home longer than this initial low-rate period. ARMs are risky if property values go down and borrowers are unable to sell their home or refinance.

Have questions about mortgage loans? Call us at 866-840-8745 x2. It's our job to answer these questions and many others, so we're happy to help!

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