Fixed versus adjustable loans

With a fixed-rate loan, your monthly payment remains the same for the life of your loan. The longer you pay, the more of your payment goes toward principal. The property taxes and homeowners insurance which are almost always part of the payment will go up over time, but for the most part, payment amounts on fixed rate loans change little over the life of the loan.

During the early amortization period of a fixed-rate loan, a large percentage of your monthly payment goes toward interest, and a much smaller part toward principal. As you pay , more of your payment goes toward principal.

Borrowers might choose a fixed-rate loan to lock in a low rate. People choose these types of loans because interest rates are low and they want to lock in at this low rate. For homeowners who have an ARM now, refinancing into a fixed-rate loan can offer more monthly payment stability. If you have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) now, we can assist you in locking a fixed-rate at the best rate currently available. Call First Southeast Mortgage Corporation at 954.920.9799 for details.

There are many different kinds of Adjustable Rate Mortgages. Generally, the interest rates for ARMs are determined by an outside index. Some examples of outside indexes 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 ARMs are capped, so they can't go up over a specified amount in a given period. There may be a cap on interest rate increases over the course of a year. For example: no more than a couple percent a year, even though 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 the monthly payment can increase in a given period. Additionally, almost all ARM programs feature a "lifetime cap" — this cap means that your rate can't exceed the capped percentage.

ARMs most often feature their lowest rates at the start. They guarantee that rate for an initial period that varies greatly. You've likely read about 5/1 or 3/1 ARMs. In these loans, the introductory rate is set for three or five years. After this period it adjusts every year. These loans are fixed for 3 or 5 years, then they adjust after the initial period. These loans are usually best for people who anticipate moving within three or five years. These types of ARMs are best for people who will sell their house or refinance before the initial lock expires.

Most borrowers who choose ARMs do so when they want to take advantage of lower introductory rates and don't plan to remain in the house for any longer than the introductory low-rate period. ARMs can be risky in a down market because homeowners could be stuck with increasing rates if they cannot sell their home or refinance at the lower property value.

Have questions about mortgage loans? Call us at 954.920.9799. It's our job to answer these questions and many others, so we're happy to help!

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