Fixed versus adjustable rate loans

A fixed-rate loan features a fixed payment over the life of the mortgage. The property tax and homeowners insurance which are almost always part of the payment will go up over time, but for the most part, payment amounts on these types of loans change little over the life of the loan.

During the early amortization period of a fixed-rate loan, a large percentage of your payment goes toward interest, and a much smaller percentage toward principal. That gradually reverses as the loan ages.

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

Adjustable Rate Mortgages — ARMs, as we called them above — come in a great number of varieties. ARMs are normally adjusted every six months, based on various indexes.

Most programs have a "cap" that protects borrowers from sudden increases in monthly payments. Some ARMs won't increase more than 2% per year, regardless of the underlying interest rate. Sometimes an ARM features a "payment cap" which ensures your payment will not go above a fixed amount in a given year. The majority of ARMs also cap your rate over the life of the loan.

ARMs usually start 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 set for three or five years. It then adjusts every year. These loans are fixed for a number of years (3 or 5), then they adjust. Loans like this are usually best for people who anticipate moving in three or five years. These types of adjustable rate loans most benefit borrowers who will sell their house or refinance before the loan adjusts.

You might choose an ARM to get a very low initial rate and count on moving, refinancing or absorbing the higher rate after the introductory rate goes up. ARMs can be risky when property values go down and borrowers are unable to sell their home or refinance.

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

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