Differences between adjustable and fixed loans

With a fixed-rate loan, your monthly payment stays the same for the life of the mortgage. The portion that goes for your principal (the actual loan amount) will increase, however, your interest payment will decrease accordingly. The property tax and homeowners insurance which are almost always part of the payment will increase over time, but in general, payment amounts on fixed rate loans change little over the life of the loan.

During the early amortization period of a fixed-rate loan, most of your monthly payment goes toward interest, and a significantly smaller percentage goes to principal. That gradually reverses itself as the loan ages.

Borrowers might choose a fixed-rate loan to lock in a low interest 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 greater monthly payment stability. If you currently have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM), we'll be glad to assist you in locking a fixed-rate at a good rate. Call Family Mortgage Company of Hawaii, Inc. NMLS #244497 at (808) 935-0678 to discuss your situation with one of our professionals.

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

The majority of Adjustable Rate Mortgages are capped, which means they won't increase above a specific amount in a given period. Your ARM may feature a cap on interest rate variances 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 increases by more than two percent. Your loan may feature a "payment cap" that instead of capping the interest directly, caps the amount the monthly payment can go up in a given period. The majority of ARMs also cap your interest rate over the duration of the loan period.

ARMs usually start 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 introductory rate is set for three or five years. After this period it adjusts every year. These types of loans are fixed for a certain number of years (3 or 5), then they adjust after the initial period. These loans are best for borrowers who anticipate moving in three or five years. These types of adjustable rate loans benefit borrowers who will move before the initial lock expires.

Most borrowers who choose ARMs do so because they want to take advantage of lower introductory rates and do not plan to stay in the home for any longer than this initial low-rate period. ARMs can be risky in a down market because homeowners can get stuck with increasing rates when they can't sell or refinance at the lower property value.

Have questions about mortgage loans? Call us at (808) 935-0678. We answer questions about different types of loans every day.

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