Differences between adjustable and fixed rate loans

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

During the early amortization period of a fixed-rate loan, a large percentage of your monthly payment goes toward interest, and a much smaller percentage goes to principal. This proportion gradually reverses itself as the loan ages.

You can choose a fixed-rate loan in order to lock in a low rate. People choose these types of loans because interest rates are low and they wish to lock in at the lower rate. If you have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) now, refinancing with a fixed-rate loan can offer more stability in monthly payments. If you currently have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM), we can help you lock in a fixed-rate at the best rate currently available. Call Bright Vision Mortgage at (904) 342-3622 to learn more.

There are many types of Adjustable Rate Mortgages. Generally, interest on ARMs are based on a federal 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.

Most programs feature a "cap" that protects borrowers from sudden increases in monthly payments. Your ARM may feature a cap on how much your interest rate can go up in one period. For example: no more than two percent a year, even though the index the rate is based on increases by more than two percent. Your loan may have a "payment cap" that instead of capping the interest rate directly, caps the amount that your payment can increase in one period. Additionally, almost all ARM programs feature a "lifetime cap" — this cap means that the rate won't go over the capped amount.

ARMs usually start at a very low rate that may increase as the loan ages. You may have heard about "3/1 ARMs" or "5/1 ARMs". For 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 a certain number of years (3 or 5), then they adjust. These loans are best for people who expect to move within three or five years. These types of adjustable rate loans benefit people who will move before the loan adjusts.

You might choose an Adjustable Rate Mortgage to get a lower introductory rate and count on moving, refinancing or simply absorbing the higher rate after the introductory rate expires. ARMs can be risky in a down market because homeowners can get stuck with rates that go up when they cannot sell their home or refinance at the lower property value.

Have questions about mortgage loans? Call us at (904) 342-3622. It's our job to answer these questions and many others, so we're happy to help!

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