Fixed versus adjustable rate loans

With a fixed-rate loan, your monthly payment doesn't change for the entire duration of the loan. The amount that goes to principal (the loan amount) goes up, but the amount you pay in interest will decrease accordingly. Your property taxes may go up (or rarely, down), and your insurance rates might vary as well. But generally monthly payments for your fixed-rate loan will increase very little.

Early in a fixed-rate loan, a large percentage of your monthly payment goes toward interest, and a much smaller part goes to principal. The amount applied to principal increases up slowly each month.

You might choose a fixed-rate loan in order to lock in a low interest rate. Borrowers choose fixed-rate loans because interest rates are low and they want to lock in at this low rate. If you have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) now, refinancing into a fixed-rate loan can provide greater consistency in monthly payments. If you have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) now, we'll be glad to assist you in locking a fixed-rate at a good rate. Call Alternative Mortgage Group at 561-395-4264 to discuss how we can help.

Adjustable Rate Mortgages — ARMs, come in many varieties. Generally, interest rates on ARMs are determined by an outside index. A few of these are: the 6-month CD rate, the 1 year rate on Treasure Securities, the Federal Home Loan Bank's 11th District Cost of Funds Index (COFI), or others.

The majority of ARMs are capped, so they won't go up above a certain amount in a given period of time. Your ARM may feature 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 underlying index increases by more than two percent. Your loan may feature a "payment cap" that instead of capping the interest directly, caps the amount the monthly payment can increase in one period. Additionally, almost all adjustable programs feature a "lifetime cap" — this means that your interest rate can't go over the cap percentage.

ARMs usually start out at a very low rate that usually increases over time. You've probably heard of 5/1 or 3/1 ARMs. In these loans, the initial rate is set for three or five years. It then adjusts every year. These types of loans are fixed for 3 or 5 years, then they adjust. Loans like this are usually best for borrowers who expect to move within three or five years. These types of ARMs are best for borrowers who plan to sell their house or refinance before the initial lock expires.

You might choose an Adjustable Rate Mortgage to get a lower introductory interest rate and count on moving, refinancing or absorbing the higher rate after the initial rate goes up. ARMs can be risky when property values go down and borrowers cannot sell or refinance their loan.

Have questions about mortgage loans? Call us at 561-395-4264. It's our job to answer these questions and many others, so we're happy to help!