Fixed versus adjustable rate loans

With a fixed-rate loan, your monthly payment never changes for the life of your loan. The longer you pay, the more of your payment goes toward principal. Your property taxes increase, or rarely, decrease, and your insurance rates might vary as well. But generally payments for your fixed-rate loan will increase very little.

During the early amortization period of a fixed-rate loan, a large percentage of your monthly payment pays interest, and a significantly smaller percentage toward principal. The amount applied to your principal amount increases up gradually every month.

Borrowers can choose a fixed-rate loan to lock in a low interest rate. Borrowers 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 consistency in monthly payments. If you currently have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM), we'll be glad to help you lock in a fixed-rate at the best rate currently available. Call Power Purchase Mortgage at (800)593-0143 for details.

There are many different types of Adjustable Rate Mortgages. Generally, the interest rates for ARMs are based on a federal 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 ARM programs feature a "cap" that protects you from sudden monthly payment increases. Some ARMs won't increase more than 2% per year, regardless of the underlying interest rate. Your loan may feature a "payment cap" that instead of capping the interest rate directly, caps the amount that your payment can go up in a given period. Plus, the great majority of ARMs have a "lifetime cap" — this means that your interest rate can't ever go over the cap percentage.

ARMs usually start out at a very low rate that may increase over time. You may hear people talking about "3/1 ARMs" or "5/1 ARMs". For these loans, the introductory rate is fixed for three or five years. It then adjusts every year. These loans are fixed for 3 or 5 years, then adjust after the initial period. Loans like this are best for people who expect to move within three or five years. These types of adjustable rate loans most benefit borrowers who will move before the loan adjusts.

Most people who choose ARMs choose them because they want to get lower introductory rates and do not plan on remaining in the house for any longer than this introductory low-rate period. ARMs are risky when property values decrease and borrowers cannot sell their home or refinance.

Have questions about mortgage loans? Call us at (800)593-0143. We answer questions about different types of loans every day.

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