Differences between fixed and adjustable rate loans

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A fixed-rate loan features a fixed payment amount over the life of the loan. Your property taxes may go up (or rarely, down), and so might the homeowner's insurance in your monthly payment. For the most part payments for your fixed-rate mortgage will increase very little.

Early in a fixed-rate loan, a large percentage of your monthly payment goes toward interest, and a significantly smaller percentage toward principal. As you pay on the loan, more of your payment is applied to principal.

You can choose a fixed-rate loan in order to lock in a low interest rate. Borrowers select fixed-rate loans because interest rates are low and they wish to lock in at the low rate. For homeowners who have an ARM now, refinancing with a fixed-rate loan can provide greater consistency in monthly payments. If you have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) now, we'll be glad to help you lock in a fixed-rate at the best rate currently available. Call Residential Mortgage Center, Inc. at (240) 428-1650 for details.

There are many kinds of Adjustable Rate Mortgages. ARMs are normally adjusted every six months, based on various indexes.

Most ARM programs feature a "cap" that protects borrowers from sudden monthly payment increases. Some ARMs can't adjust more than 2% per year, regardless of the underlying interest rate. Sometimes an ARM features a "payment cap" that guarantees that your payment will not go above a fixed amount over the course of a given year. The majority of ARMs also cap your interest rate over the duration of the loan period.

ARMs most often have their lowest, most attractive rates toward the beginning. They guarantee that interest rate for an initial period that varies greatly. You've likely heard of 5/1 or 3/1 ARMs. For these loans, the initial rate is set for three or five years. It then adjusts every year. These kinds of loans are fixed for 3 or 5 years, then adjust. Loans like this are usually best for borrowers who expect to move within three or five years. These types of adjustable rate loans benefit people who plan to sell their house or refinance before the loan adjusts.

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 can be risky in a down market because homeowners can get stuck with rates that go up when they can't sell or refinance at the lower property value.

Have questions about mortgage loans? Call us at (240) 428-1650. It's our job to answer these questions and many others, so we're happy to help!