Differences between adjustable and fixed rate loans

With a fixed-rate loan, your monthly payment never changes for the life of your loan. The amount allocated to your principal (the loan amount) goes up, however, your interest payment will decrease accordingly. 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 for your fixed-rate mortgage will be very stable.

Your first few years of payments on a fixed-rate loan go primarily to pay interest. The amount applied to principal goes up slowly each month.

Borrowers might choose a fixed-rate loan in order to lock in a low rate. People choose fixed-rate loans when interest rates are low and they want to lock in at this lower rate. If you have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) now, refinancing into a fixed-rate loan can offer more monthly payment stability. If you currently have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM), we can assist you in locking a fixed-rate at the best rate currently available. Call America's Home Loans at 701.222.0100 to learn more.

There are many different kinds of Adjustable Rate Mortgages. Generally, interest for ARMs are determined by a federal index. A few of these are: the 6-month Certificate of Deposit (CD) rate, the 1 year rate on Treasure Securities, the Federal Home Loan Bank's 11th District Cost of Funds Index (COFI), or others.

Most ARM programs have a cap that protects borrowers from sudden monthly payment increases. Some ARMs won't increase more than two percent per year, regardless of the underlying interest rate. Your loan may have a "payment cap" that instead of capping the interest directly, caps the amount that the payment can increase in one period. In addition, the great majority of adjustable programs feature a "lifetime cap" — your interest rate will never go over the capped percentage.

ARMs usually start out at a very low rate that usually increases over time. You've likely heard of 5/1 or 3/1 ARMs. In these loans, the initial rate is fixed for three or five years. It then adjusts every year. These types of loans are fixed for 3 or 5 years, then they adjust. Loans like this are usually best for borrowers who expect to move in three or five years. These types of adjustable rate programs benefit people who plan to move before the loan adjusts.

Most people who choose ARMs choose them when they want to take advantage of lower introductory rates and don't plan to remain in the home longer than the introductory low-rate period. ARMs can be risky when housing prices go down because homeowners can get stuck with rates that go up when they cannot sell their home or refinance at the lower property value.

Have questions about mortgage loans? Call us at 701.222.0100. We answer questions about different types of loans every day.

Mortgage Questions?

Do you have a question regarding a mortgage program?

Contact Information
Your Question