Differences between adjustable and fixed rate loans

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With a fixed-rate loan, your monthly payment remains the same for the life of the mortgage. The amount that goes to your principal (the loan amount) will go up, but your interest payment will go down 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 payment amounts on a fixed-rate mortgage will increase very little.

At the beginning of a a fixed-rate mortgage loan, the majority the payment is applied to interest. As you pay , more of your payment is applied to principal.

You might choose a fixed-rate loan to lock in a low rate. Borrowers choose fixed-rate loans because interest rates are low and they wish to lock in the lower rate. For homeowners who have an ARM now, refinancing into a fixed-rate loan can offer more stability in monthly payments. If you currently have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM), we can help you lock in a fixed-rate at a favorable rate. Call Laser Lending at 801.999.0493 to discuss your situation with one of our professionals.

Adjustable Rate Mortgages — ARMs, as we called them above — come in even more varieties. ARMs usually adjust twice a year, based on various indexes.

Most programs have a "cap" that protects borrowers from sudden increases in monthly payments. Your ARM may feature a cap on interest rate increases over the course of a year. For example: no more than a couple percent a year, even if 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 directly, caps the amount that your payment can go up in one period. In addition, almost all ARM programs have a "lifetime cap" — this cap means that the rate can't go over the capped amount.

ARMs usually start out at a very low rate that may increase as the loan ages. You may have heard about "3/1 ARMs" or "5/1 ARMs". For these loans, the introductory rate is set for three or five years. After this period it adjusts every year. These types of loans are fixed for 3 or 5 years, then adjust after the initial period. Loans like this are often best for people who expect to move in three or five years. These types of ARMs most benefit people who plan to sell their house or refinance before the loan adjusts.

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

Have questions about mortgage loans? Call us at 801.999.0493. It's our job to answer these questions and many others, so we're happy to help!

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