Differences between fixed and adjustable rate loans

With a fixed-rate loan, your payment stays the same for the entire duration of your mortgage. The longer you pay, the more of your payment goes toward principal. The property taxes and homeowners insurance which are almost always part of the payment will increase over time, but for the most part, payment amounts on these types of loans vary little.

When you first take out a fixed-rate mortgage loan, most of your payment is applied to interest. That gradually reverses as the loan ages.

Borrowers can choose a fixed-rate loan in order to lock in a low rate. Borrowers select these types of loans because interest rates are low and they want to lock in this lower rate. For homeowners who have an ARM now, refinancing into a fixed-rate loan can provide more monthly payment stability. If you have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) now, we'll be glad to help you lock in a fixed-rate at the best rate currently available. Call Coastal Mortgage Corp. at 504-866-5626 to learn more.

Adjustable Rate Mortgages — ARMs, come in even more varieties. Generally, the interest rates for ARMs are based on a federal 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.

Most programs feature a "cap" that protects borrowers from sudden monthly payment increases. Some ARMs can't adjust more than 2% per year, regardless of the underlying interest rate. Your loan may feature a "payment cap" that instead of capping the interest rate directly, caps the amount that the payment can increase in one period. Almost all ARMs also cap your interest rate over the life of the loan period.

ARMs most often have the lowest, most attractive rates toward the start of the loan. They usually provide the lower interest rate from a month to ten years. You may have heard about "3/1 ARMs" or "5/1 ARMs". For these loans, the introductory rate is fixed for three or five years. It then adjusts every year. These loans are fixed for a number of years (3 or 5), then adjust after the initial period. These loans are best for borrowers who anticipate moving in three or five years. These types of adjustable rate programs are best for people who plan to move before the loan adjusts.

Most people who choose ARMs choose them because they want to get lower introductory rates and don't plan to stay in the house longer than the initial low-rate period. ARMs can be risky in a down market because homeowners could be stuck with rates that go up when they can't sell their home or refinance at the lower property value.

Have questions about mortgage loans? Call us at 504-866-5626. We answer questions about different types of loans every day.

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