Differences between adjustable and fixed loans

A fixed-rate loan features the same payment over the life of the loan. 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 fixed rate loans vary little.

Your first few years of payments on a fixed-rate loan go primarily toward interest. As you pay , more of your payment is applied to principal.

Borrowers can choose a fixed-rate loan in order to lock in a low rate. Borrowers select these types of loans because interest rates are low and they wish to lock in this lower rate. For homeowners who have an ARM now, refinancing with a fixed-rate loan can offer more consistency in monthly payments. If you have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) now, we'd love to help you lock in a fixed-rate at a favorable rate. Call The Mortgage Exchange Service LLC at 703.255-5810 for details.

Adjustable Rate Mortgages — ARMs, as we called them above — come in even more varieties. Generally, interest rates on ARMs are determined by a federal index. A few of these are: the 6-month CD rate, the one-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, so they won't go up over a specified amount in a given period of time. Some ARMs can't adjust more than two percent per year, regardless of the underlying interest rate. Your loan may have a "payment cap" that instead of capping the interest rate 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 usually start at a very low rate that may increase as the loan ages. You've probably heard of 5/1 or 3/1 ARMs. In these loans, the initial rate is fixed for three or five years. It then adjusts every year. These loans are fixed for a certain number of years (3 or 5), then adjust. These loans are often best for borrowers who expect to move within three or five years. These types of ARMs benefit borrowers who plan to move before the initial lock expires.

Most borrowers who choose ARMs do so because they want to take advantage of lower introductory rates and don't plan on remaining in the home longer than the introductory low-rate period. ARMs can be risky when housing prices go down because homeowners could be stuck with rates that go up when they can't sell or refinance at the lower property value.

Have questions about mortgage loans? Call us at 703.255-5810. We answer questions about different types of loans every day.

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