Differences between adjustable and fixed rate loans

A fixed-rate loan features a fixed payment for the entire duration of the mortgage. The property taxes and homeowners insurance will increase over time, but for the most part, payment amounts on fixed rate loans vary little.

Your first few years of payments on a fixed-rate loan go primarily toward interest. That gradually reverses as the loan ages.

You might choose a fixed-rate loan in order to lock in a low interest rate. Borrowers select fixed-rate loans because interest rates are low and they want to lock in at the lower rate. For homeowners who have an ARM now, refinancing into a fixed-rate loan can provide more monthly payment stability. If you currently have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM), we can assist you in locking a fixed-rate at a favorable rate. Call Abundance Home Mortgage at (512) 335-7800 to learn more.

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

Most Adjustable Rate Mortgages are capped, so they won't increase above a certain amount in a given period. Your ARM may feature a cap on how much your interest rate can increase in one period. For example: no more than two percent a year, even if the index the rate is based on increases by more than two percent. Your loan may feature a "payment cap" that instead of capping the interest rate directly, caps the amount that the payment can increase in a given period. In addition, almost all ARMs have a "lifetime cap" — the rate can never go over the cap percentage.

ARMs usually start out at a very low rate that usually increases over time. You may hear people talking about "3/1 ARMs" or "5/1 ARMs". In these loans, the initial rate is fixed for three or five years. After this period it adjusts every year. These kinds of loans are fixed for a number of years (3 or 5), then they adjust after the initial period. Loans like this are best for borrowers who expect to move within three or five years. These types of adjustable rate programs benefit people who will move before the initial lock expires.

Most borrowers who choose ARMs choose them when they want to take advantage of lower introductory rates and do not plan to remain in the house longer than the initial low-rate period. ARMs can be risky in a down market because homeowners could be stuck with rates that go up when they cannot sell their home or refinance with a lower property value.

Have questions about mortgage loans? Call us at (512) 335-7800. We answer questions about different types of loans every day.

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