Differences between adjustable and fixed loans

With a fixed-rate loan, your monthly payment doesn't change for the entire duration of the loan. The portion of the payment allocated to principal (the actual loan amount) will go up, but the amount you pay in interest will decrease in the same amount. The property taxes and homeowners insurance will go up over time, but in general, payment amounts on fixed rate loans change little over the life of the loan.

When you first take out a fixed-rate mortgage loan, the majority your payment goes toward interest. As you pay on the loan, more of your payment goes toward principal.

Borrowers might choose a fixed-rate loan to lock in a low interest rate. Borrowers select these types of loans because interest rates are low and they want to lock in at the low rate. For homeowners who have an ARM now, refinancing into a fixed-rate loan can offer more stability in monthly payments. If you have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) now, we'd love to assist you in locking a fixed-rate at a good rate. Call Bright Vision Mortgage at (904) 342-3622 to learn more.

Adjustable Rate Mortgages — ARMs, as we called them above — come in even more varieties. Generally, interest for ARMs are based on a federal index. Some examples of outside indexes 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 can't go up over a specific amount in a given period. Your ARM may feature a cap on how much your interest rate can go up in one period. For example: no more than a couple percent a year, even if the index the rate is based on goes up by more than two percent. Your loan may feature a "payment cap" that instead of capping the interest rate directly, caps the amount that your payment can increase in a given period. Almost all ARMs also cap your interest rate over the life of the loan period.

ARMs usually start at a very low rate that usually increases over time. You may hear people talking about "3/1 ARMs" or "5/1 ARMs". In these loans, the initial rate is fixed for three or five years. It then adjusts every year. These loans are fixed for 3 or 5 years, then they adjust. These loans are often best for borrowers who anticipate moving in three or five years. These types of ARMs most benefit people who will move before the loan adjusts.

Most people who choose ARMs do so when they want to get lower introductory rates and do not plan on remaining in the home for any longer than this introductory low-rate period. ARMs can be risky when housing prices go down because homeowners can get stuck with increasing rates if they can't sell their home or refinance with a 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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