Differences between fixed and adjustable rate loans

A fixed-rate loan features a fixed payment amount over the life of the loan. Your property taxes increase, or rarely, decrease, and your insurance rates might vary as well. But generally payments on your fixed-rate mortgage will increase very little.

Your first few years of payments on a fixed-rate loan are applied mostly toward interest. The amount applied to principal increases up gradually every month.

You might choose a fixed-rate loan to lock in a low interest rate. Borrowers choose fixed-rate loans because interest rates are low and they wish to lock in at the lower rate. For homeowners who have an ARM now, refinancing with a fixed-rate loan can provide greater consistency in monthly payments. If you have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) now, we'd love to assist you in locking a fixed-rate at the best rate currently available. Call Carter Financial Solutions at 866-840-8745 x2 for details.

Adjustable Rate Mortgages — ARMs, as we called them above — come in even more varieties. ARMs are generally adjusted every six months, based on various indexes.

Most ARM programs feature a "cap" that protects you from sudden monthly payment increases. Some ARMs can't adjust more than two percent per year, regardless of the underlying interest rate. Your loan may feature a "payment cap" that instead of capping the interest rate directly, caps the amount that your monthly payment can increase in one period. Most ARMs also cap your interest rate over the duration of the loan period.

ARMs most often feature their lowest rates at the beginning. They provide that rate from a month to ten years. You've likely read about 5/1 or 3/1 ARMs. For these loans, the initial rate is fixed for three or five years. After this period it adjusts every year. These types of loans are fixed for 3 or 5 years, then they adjust. Loans like this are often best for people who expect to move in three or five years. These types of adjustable rate programs are best for borrowers who plan to sell their house or refinance before the loan adjusts.

You might choose an Adjustable Rate Mortgage to get a very low initial interest rate and count on moving, refinancing or simply absorbing the higher rate after the introductory rate expires. ARMs can be risky in a down market because homeowners can get stuck with rates that go up if they can't sell or refinance at the lower property value.

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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Carter Financial Solutions

1810 Pacific Ave
Stockton, CA 95204