Differences between fixed and adjustable rate loans

With a fixed-rate loan, your payment stays the same for the entire duration of your mortgage. The longer you pay, the more of your payment goes toward principal. Your property taxes increase, or rarely, decrease, and your insurance rates might vary as well. But generally monthly payments on your fixed-rate mortgage will be very stable.

When you first take out a fixed-rate mortgage loan, the majority your payment is applied to interest. The amount applied to principal increases up gradually every month.

You can choose a fixed-rate loan to lock in a low rate. Borrowers choose fixed-rate loans when interest rates are low and they wish to lock in at the low rate. If you have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) now, refinancing with a fixed-rate loan can provide greater 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 Pauline Shah at 925-895-4155 to learn more.

Adjustable Rate Mortgages — ARMs, as we called them above — come in even more varieties. ARMs are normally adjusted every six months, based on various indexes.

Most ARM programs have a "cap" that protects you from sudden increases in monthly payments. Some ARMs can't adjust more than 2% per year, regardless of the underlying interest rate. Sometimes an ARM features a "payment cap" that ensures your payment won't go above a fixed amount over the course of a given year. Most ARMs also cap your rate over the duration of the loan period.

ARMs most often have their lowest rates at the beginning. They usually guarantee the lower interest rate from a month to ten years. You've probably heard of 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 kinds of loans are fixed for 3 or 5 years, then adjust after the initial period. These loans are best for people who anticipate moving in three or five years. These types of adjustable rate programs are best for borrowers who will move before the loan adjusts.

You might choose an ARM to take advantage of a very low introductory interest rate and plan on moving, refinancing or absorbing the higher rate after the initial rate expires. ARMs can be risky when housing prices go down because homeowners could be stuck with rates that go up when they can't sell their home or refinance with a lower property value.

Have questions about mortgage loans? Call us at 925-895-4155. We answer questions about different types of loans every day.

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