Differences between adjustable and fixed rate loans

A fixed-rate loan features a fixed payment amount for the entire duration of the mortgage. Your property taxes may go up (or rarely, down), and so might the homeowner's insurance in your monthly payment. But generally payment amounts for your fixed-rate loan will be very stable.

When you first take out a fixed-rate mortgage loan, the majority the payment goes toward interest. This proportion gradually reverses as the loan ages.

You might choose a fixed-rate loan in order to lock in a low interest rate. Borrowers select fixed-rate loans when interest rates are low and they want to lock in the low rate. If you have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) now, refinancing into a fixed-rate loan can provide greater consistency in monthly payments. If you have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) now, we'll be glad to assist you in locking a fixed-rate at the best rate currently available. Call Family Mortgage Company of Hawaii, Inc. NMLS #244497 at (808) 935-0678 to learn more.

Adjustable Rate Mortgages — ARMs, as we called them above — come in even more varieties. Generally, interest for ARMs are based on an outside index. A few of these 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.

The majority of Adjustable Rate Mortgages feature this cap, which means they can't increase over a specified amount in a given period of time. 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 increases by more than two percent. Sometimes an ARM has a "payment cap" which ensures that your payment will not increase beyond a certain amount over the course of a given year. In addition, the great majority of ARMs have a "lifetime cap" — this means that the rate won't go over the capped percentage.

ARMs usually start out at a very low rate that usually increases as the loan ages. You may hear people talking about "3/1 ARMs" or "5/1 ARMs". In 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 they adjust after the initial period. Loans like this are usually best for borrowers who anticipate moving within three or five years. These types of ARMs most benefit people who will sell their house or refinance before the initial lock expires.

Most people who choose ARMs choose them when they want to take advantage of lower introductory rates and do not plan to stay in the home for any longer than this introductory low-rate period. ARMs can be risky in a down market because homeowners could be stuck with rates that go up if they can't sell or refinance with a lower property value.

Have questions about mortgage loans? Call us at (808) 935-0678. 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