Differences between fixed and adjustable rate loans

With a fixed-rate loan, your monthly payment never changes for the entire duration of the loan. The longer you pay, the more of your payment goes toward principal. The property taxes and homeowners insurance will increase over time, but generally, payments on fixed rate loans vary little.

During the early amortization period of a fixed-rate loan, a large percentage of your payment goes toward interest, and a significantly smaller part toward principal. As you pay , more of your payment goes toward principal.

You might choose a fixed-rate loan in order to lock in a low interest rate. People choose these types of loans when interest rates are low and they wish to lock in at the lower rate. If you have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) now, refinancing into a fixed-rate loan can provide greater monthly payment stability. If you currently have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM), we'd love to assist you in locking a fixed-rate at a good rate. Call Lighthouse Mortgage Company at (916) 434-8915 for details.

Adjustable Rate Mortgages — ARMs, come in many varieties. Generally, the interest rates for ARMs are based on a federal index. Some examples of outside indexes 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 programs have a cap that protects you from sudden monthly payment increases. Some ARMs can't adjust more than 2% 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 your monthly payment can increase in a given period. Plus, almost all ARM programs have a "lifetime cap" — this cap means that the interest rate can't ever go over the cap percentage.

ARMs most often have their lowest, most attractive rates at the start of the loan. They usually provide that interest rate from a month to ten years. You may hear people talking about "3/1 ARMs" or "5/1 ARMs". In these loans, the introductory rate is set for three or five years. It then adjusts every year. These loans are fixed for a certain number of years (3 or 5), then they adjust after the initial period. These loans are best for people who anticipate moving within three or five years. These types of adjustable rate loans benefit people who will move before the initial lock expires.

You might choose an Adjustable Rate Mortgage to get a very low introductory rate and plan on moving, refinancing or absorbing the higher rate after the initial rate expires. ARMs can be risky when housing prices go down because homeowners could be stuck with increasing rates when they cannot sell or refinance at the lower property value.

Have questions about mortgage loans? Call us at (916) 434-8915. It's our job to answer these questions and many others, so we're happy to help!

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