Fixed versus adjustable rate loans

A fixed-rate loan features the same payment for the entire duration of your mortgage. The property tax and homeowners insurance will go up over time, but in general, payment amounts on fixed rate loans don't increase much.

During the early amortization period of a fixed-rate loan, most of your monthly payment goes toward interest, and a significantly smaller percentage goes to principal. This proportion reverses itself as the loan ages.

You might choose a fixed-rate loan in order to lock in a low rate. People choose fixed-rate loans because interest rates are low and they wish to lock in at this lower rate. If you have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) now, refinancing with a fixed-rate loan can provide greater stability in monthly payments. If you have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) now, we'd love to assist you in locking a fixed-rate at a good rate. Call Financial Edge Mortgage Corp. at 425-508-9988 to learn more.

Adjustable Rate Mortgages — ARMs, as we called them above — come in many varieties. Generally, interest for ARMs are based on an outside index. Some examples of outside indexes are: the 6-month CD rate, the 1 year Treasury Security rate, the Federal Home Loan Bank's 11th District Cost of Funds Index (COFI), or others.

The majority of Adjustable Rate Mortgages are capped, which means they won't increase above a certain amount in a given period of time. There may be a cap on interest rate variances over the course of a year. For example: no more than two percent per year, even if the underlying index goes up by more than two percent. Sometimes an ARM features a "payment cap" that guarantees that your payment will not increase beyond a fixed amount in a given year. Most ARMs also cap your interest rate over the duration of the loan.

ARMs usually start out at a very low rate that may increase over time. You may hear people talking about "3/1 ARMs" or "5/1 ARMs". For these loans, the introductory rate is set 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. These loans are usually best for borrowers who anticipate moving in three or five years. These types of ARMs are best for people who plan to sell their house or refinance before the initial lock expires.

Most borrowers who choose ARMs do so when they want to get lower introductory rates and do not plan to stay in the house longer than this initial low-rate period. ARMs can be risky when housing prices go down because homeowners could be stuck with increasing rates if they cannot sell their home or refinance with a lower property value.

Have questions about mortgage loans? Call us at 425-508-9988. It's our job to answer these questions and many others, so we're happy to help!

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