Fixed versus adjustable loans

With a fixed-rate loan, your monthly payment stays the same for the entire duration of the mortgage. The longer you pay, the more of your payment goes toward principal. The property tax and homeowners insurance which are almost always part of the payment will increase over time, but for the most part, payment amounts on these types of loans vary little.

When you first take out a fixed-rate loan, the majority the payment is applied to interest. As you pay on the loan, more of your payment is applied to principal.

Borrowers might choose a fixed-rate loan to lock in a low rate. Borrowers select fixed-rate loans when interest rates are low and they want to lock in this lower rate. If you have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) now, refinancing with a fixed-rate loan can offer greater stability in monthly payments. If you currently have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM), we'll be glad to help you lock in a fixed-rate at the best rate currently available. Call Abundance Home Mortgage at (512) 335-7800 to learn more.

There are many different kinds of Adjustable Rate Mortgages. ARMs usually adjust twice a year, based on various indexes.

Most ARM programs have a "cap" that protects you from sudden increases in monthly payments. Some ARMs can't adjust more than two percent per year, regardless of the underlying interest rate. Sometimes an ARM features a "payment cap" which ensures your payment won't increase beyond a certain amount over the course of a given year. Plus, almost all ARM programs feature a "lifetime cap" — your interest rate can never go over the cap percentage.

ARMs usually start out at a very low rate that may increase over time. You may have heard 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 kinds of loans are fixed for 3 or 5 years, then they adjust after the initial period. Loans like this are usually best for borrowers who expect to move in three or five years. These types of adjustable rate programs benefit people who plan to sell their house or refinance before the initial lock expires.

You might choose an ARM to take advantage of a very low initial interest rate and plan on moving, refinancing or simply absorbing the higher rate after the initial rate expires. ARMs can be risky when housing prices go down because homeowners could be stuck with rates that go up when they cannot sell their home or refinance at the lower property value.

Have questions about mortgage loans? Call us at (512) 335-7800. It's our job to answer these questions and many others, so we're happy to help!

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