Differences between adjustable and fixed rate loans

A fixed-rate loan features a fixed payment over the life of your 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 monthly payments on your fixed-rate mortgage will increase very little.

Your first few years of payments on a fixed-rate loan go primarily toward interest. As you pay , more of your payment goes toward principal.

You might choose a fixed-rate loan to lock in a low interest rate. People choose fixed-rate loans because interest rates are low and they want to lock in at the lower rate. For homeowners who have an ARM now, refinancing with a fixed-rate loan can offer more monthly payment stability. If you currently have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM), we'd love to help you lock in a fixed-rate at the best rate currently available. Call Hawk Mortgage Group at (443) 619-7900 to learn more.

Adjustable Rate Mortgages — ARMs, as we called them above — come in a great number of varieties. Generally, the interest for ARMs are based on an outside 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 Adjustable Rate Mortgages are capped, which means they can't increase over a specified amount in a given period. There may be a cap on how much your interest rate can go up in one period. For example: no more than a couple percent per year, even if the underlying index increases by more than two percent. Your loan may feature a "payment cap" that instead of capping the interest directly, caps the amount that the payment can increase in a given period. Most ARMs also cap your interest rate over the life of the loan.

ARMs most often feature their lowest rates toward the start. They guarantee the lower interest rate from a month to ten years. You've probably read about 5/1 or 3/1 ARMs. For these loans, the initial rate is fixed for three or five years. After this period it adjusts every year. These kinds of loans are fixed for 3 or 5 years, then they adjust after the initial period. These loans are usually best for people who expect to move in three or five years. These types of adjustable rate loans benefit borrowers who will move before the loan adjusts.

Most borrowers who choose ARMs do so because they want to get lower introductory rates and don't plan on staying in the home for any longer than this introductory low-rate period. ARMs are risky if property values decrease and borrowers can't sell or refinance their loan.

Have questions about mortgage loans? Call us at (443) 619-7900. It's our job to answer these questions and many others, so we're happy to help!

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