Fixed versus adjustable rate loans

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With a fixed-rate loan, your monthly payment remains the same for the life of the mortgage. The amount of the payment allocated to your principal (the amount you borrowed) increases, but the amount you pay in interest will go down accordingly. Your property taxes increase, or rarely, decrease, and so might the homeowner's insurance in your monthly payment. For the most part payment amounts for your fixed-rate mortgage will increase very little.

Early in a fixed-rate loan, a large percentage of your monthly payment pays interest, and a significantly smaller percentage goes to principal. That gradually reverses as the loan ages.

You might choose a fixed-rate loan to lock in a low rate. People select fixed-rate loans when interest rates are low and they wish to lock in this low rate. For homeowners who have an ARM now, refinancing with a fixed-rate loan can provide greater monthly payment stability. If you have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) now, we'd love to help you lock in a fixed-rate at a good rate. Call Arizona Wholesale Mortgage Inc. at 623-340-0934 to discuss your situation with one of our professionals.

Adjustable Rate Mortgages — ARMs, come in even more varieties. Generally, the interest rates on ARMs are determined by a federal index. A few of these are: the 6-month Certificate of Deposit (CD) rate, the 1 year Treasury Security rate, the Federal Home Loan Bank's 11th District Cost of Funds Index (COFI), or others.

Most Adjustable Rate Mortgages are capped, so they can't increase above a specific amount in a given period of time. Your ARM may feature a cap on interest rate variances over the course of a year. For example: no more than a couple percent a year, even if the underlying index goes up by more than two percent. Sometimes an ARM features a "payment cap" which guarantees that your payment can't increase beyond a certain amount in a given year. Plus, the great majority of ARMs feature a "lifetime cap" — the interest rate can't ever go over the cap percentage.

ARMs usually start 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 fixed for three or five years. After this period it adjusts every year. These loans are fixed for 3 or 5 years, then adjust after the initial period. Loans like this are best for borrowers who anticipate moving 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 ARM to get a very low initial interest rate and plan on moving, refinancing or simply absorbing the higher rate after the introductory rate expires. ARMs can be risky in a down market because homeowners could be 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 623-340-0934. We answer questions about different types of loans every day.

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