Differences between adjustable and fixed loans

With a fixed-rate loan, your payment never changes for the entire duration of your loan. The longer you pay, the more of your payment goes toward principal. The property taxes and homeowners insurance will go up over time, but for the most part, payment amounts on fixed rate loans don't increase much.

Your first few years of payments on a fixed-rate loan go primarily to pay interest. That reverses as the loan ages.

You might choose a fixed-rate loan in order to lock in a low rate. Borrowers select these types of loans when interest rates are low and they wish to lock in the low rate. For homeowners who have an ARM now, refinancing with a fixed-rate loan can offer more consistency in monthly payments. If you have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) now, we can help you lock in a fixed-rate at the best rate currently available. Call Lighthouse Mortgage Company at (916) 434-8915 for details.

Adjustable Rate Mortgages — ARMs, come in a great number of varieties. Generally, interest rates for ARMs are determined by a federal index. Some examples of outside indexes are: the 6-month Certificate of Deposit (CD) rate, the one-year Treasury Security rate, the Federal Home Loan Bank's 11th District Cost of Funds Index (COFI), or others.

Most programs feature a cap that protects borrowers from sudden increases in monthly payments. There may be a cap on how much your interest rate can increase in one period. For example: no more than two percent a year, even though the index the rate is based on goes up by more than two percent. Your loan may have a "payment cap" that instead of capping the interest rate directly, caps the amount that your payment can increase in one period. Additionally, the great majority of ARMs have a "lifetime cap" — this cap means that your interest rate can never exceed the capped percentage.

ARMs usually start at a very low rate that may increase as the loan ages. 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. Loans like this are best for borrowers who anticipate moving within three or five years. These types of adjustable rate loans benefit borrowers who plan to move before the initial lock expires.

You might choose an ARM to take advantage of a lower introductory rate and count on moving, refinancing or simply absorbing the higher rate after the introductory rate expires. ARMs are risky if property values go down and borrowers can't sell or refinance.

Have questions about mortgage loans? Call us at (916) 434-8915. We answer questions about different types of loans every day.

Got a Question?

Do you have a question? We can help. Simply fill out the form below and we'll contact you with the answer, with no obligation to you. We guarantee your privacy.

Your Information
Your Question