Fixed versus adjustable rate loans

With a fixed-rate loan, your payment never changes for the entire duration of your loan. The portion of the payment that goes to principal (the amount you borrowed) goes up, however, your interest payment will decrease accordingly. Your property taxes may go up (or rarely, down), and your insurance rates might vary as well. But generally monthly payments on a fixed-rate mortgage will increase very little.

During the early amortization period of a fixed-rate loan, most of your payment pays interest, and a significantly smaller part toward principal. As you pay , more of your payment is applied to principal.

You 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 wish to lock in at the low 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'd love to help you lock in a fixed-rate at the best rate currently available. Call Firelight Mortgage Consultants at (303) 228-2254 for details.

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 ARM programs feature a cap that protects you from sudden monthly payment increases. Some ARMs won't adjust more than two percent 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. Most ARMs also cap your interest rate over the life of the loan.

ARMs usually start out at a very low rate that usually increases over time. You've probably heard of 5/1 or 3/1 ARMs. In these loans, the introductory rate is fixed for three or five years. After this period it adjusts every year. These kinds of loans are fixed for 3 or 5 years, then they adjust. Loans like this are best for borrowers who expect to move in three or five years. These types of adjustable rate loans benefit borrowers who plan to sell their house or refinance before the loan adjusts.

You might choose an ARM to take advantage of a very low initial interest rate and plan on moving, refinancing or simply absorbing the higher rate after the initial rate goes up. ARMs can be risky when housing prices go down 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 (303) 228-2254. It's our job to answer these questions and many others, so we're happy to help!

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