Differences between fixed and adjustable rate loans

With a fixed-rate loan, your monthly payment doesn't change for the life of your loan. The amount of the payment that goes to principal (the loan amount) will go up, however, your interest payment will decrease in the same amount. Your property taxes increase, or rarely, decrease, and your insurance rates might vary as well. But generally payments on your fixed-rate loan will be very stable.

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

You can choose a fixed-rate loan to lock in a low interest rate. People select fixed-rate loans because interest rates are low and they wish to lock in the low rate. For homeowners who have an ARM now, refinancing into a fixed-rate loan can offer 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 Saab Mortgage at 703-288-0777 to discuss your situation with one of our professionals.

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

Most ARMs are capped, so they can't go up above a specific amount in a given period of time. Some ARMs won't increase more than two percent per year, regardless of the underlying interest rate. Your loan may feature a "payment cap" that instead of capping the interest directly, caps the amount the payment can go up in a given period. Additionally, almost all ARM programs feature a "lifetime cap" — this means that the interest rate can't go over the capped percentage.

ARMs usually start out at a very low rate that may increase as the loan ages. You've likely heard of 5/1 or 3/1 ARMs. In these loans, the initial 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. Loans like this are best for borrowers who anticipate moving within three or five years. These types of adjustable rate loans most benefit people who will move before the initial lock expires.

You might choose an ARM to take advantage of a very low initial interest rate and count on moving, refinancing or simply absorbing the higher rate after the initial rate goes up. ARMs are risky when property values go down and borrowers are unable to sell their home or refinance their loan.

Have questions about mortgage loans? Call us at 703-288-0777. It's our job to answer these questions and many others, so we're happy to help!

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