Differences between adjustable and fixed rate loans

With a fixed-rate loan, your monthly payment doesn't change for the entire duration of the mortgage. The longer you pay, the more of your payment goes toward principal. Your property taxes may go up (or rarely, down), and so might the homeowner's insurance in your monthly payment. But generally monthly payments on a fixed-rate loan will be very stable.

Your first few years of payments on a fixed-rate loan go mostly to pay interest. The amount paid toward principal goes up slowly every month.

Borrowers might choose a fixed-rate loan in order to lock in a low interest rate. People choose fixed-rate loans when interest rates are low and they want to lock in at the lower rate. For homeowners who have an ARM now, refinancing with a fixed-rate loan can provide greater monthly payment stability. If you currently have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM), we'll be glad to assist you in locking a fixed-rate at the best rate currently available. Call Reliance Mortgage Service, Inc at 562 320-0510 for details.

There are many types of Adjustable Rate Mortgages. Generally, the interest for ARMs are based on an outside index. A few of these are: the 6-month CD rate, the 1 year Treasury Security rate, the Federal Home Loan Bank's 11th District Cost of Funds Index (COFI), or others.

Most ARM programs have a cap that protects you from sudden increases in monthly payments. Some ARMs can't adjust more than two percent per year, regardless of the underlying interest rate. Sometimes an ARM has a "payment cap" which guarantees your payment can't increase beyond a certain amount over the course of a given year. Plus, almost all ARM programs have a "lifetime cap" — this means that the rate won't go over the capped percentage.

ARMs most often feature the lowest rates toward the start. They usually guarantee the lower rate for an initial period that varies greatly. You may hear people talking 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 a number of years (3 or 5), then adjust. Loans like this are often best for people who expect to move in three or five years. These types of ARMs most benefit people who will sell their house or refinance before the initial lock expires.

You might choose an Adjustable Rate Mortgage to get a very low initial rate and plan on moving, refinancing or simply absorbing the higher rate after the initial rate expires. ARMs are risky when property values go down and borrowers are unable to sell or refinance.

Have questions about mortgage loans? Call us at 562 320-0510. It's our job to answer these questions and many others, so we're happy to help!

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