Fixed versus adjustable loans

A fixed-rate loan features a fixed payment amount over the life of your loan. The property tax and homeowners insurance which are almost always part of the payment will increase over time, but for the most part, payment amounts on fixed rate loans don't increase much.

Early in a fixed-rate loan, most of your monthly payment goes toward interest, and a much smaller part goes to principal. As you pay on the loan, more of your payment is applied to principal.

You can choose a fixed-rate loan in order to lock in a low rate. People select these types of loans because 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 provide 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 a good rate. Call Firelight Mortgage Consultants at (303) 228-2254 to discuss how we can help.

Adjustable Rate Mortgages — ARMs, come in a great number of varieties. Generally, the interest 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.

Most programs feature a "cap" that protects you from sudden increases in monthly payments. There may be a cap on interest rate variances over the course of a year. For example: no more than two percent per year, even if the underlying index increases by more than two percent. Your loan may have a "payment cap" that instead of capping the interest directly, caps the amount your monthly payment can increase in one period. In addition, the great majority of ARM programs feature a "lifetime cap" — this cap means that the rate can't go over the capped percentage.

ARMs most often have their lowest, most attractive rates toward the start of the loan. They usually guarantee that rate from a month to ten years. You've probably read about 5/1 or 3/1 ARMs. In these loans, the initial rate is set for three or five years. It then adjusts every year. These loans are fixed for a number of years (3 or 5), then they adjust. Loans like this are often best for people who anticipate moving within three or five years. These types of adjustable rate loans most benefit people who will move before the loan adjusts.

You might choose an Adjustable Rate Mortgage to get a lower introductory rate and plan on moving, refinancing or absorbing the higher rate after the initial rate expires. ARMs can be risky when housing prices go down because homeowners can get stuck with increasing rates when they cannot sell or refinance with a 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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