Differences between adjustable and fixed rate loans

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With a fixed-rate loan, your monthly payment doesn't change for the life of your mortgage. The amount allocated for principal (the actual loan amount) will increase, but the amount you pay in interest will decrease accordingly. Your property taxes increase, or rarely, decrease, and so might the homeowner's insurance in your monthly payment. But generally monthly payments on your fixed-rate mortgage will be very stable.

At the beginning of a a fixed-rate loan, most of the payment is applied to interest. As you pay on the loan, more of your payment goes toward principal.

Borrowers might choose a fixed-rate loan in order to lock in a low rate. People choose these types of loans because interest rates are low and they want to lock in at this lower rate. For homeowners who have an ARM now, refinancing into a fixed-rate loan can provide more consistency in monthly payments. If you have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) now, we'd love to assist you in locking a fixed-rate at the best rate currently available. Call Nationwide Residential Capital, Inc. at 813-865-6040 to learn more.

Adjustable Rate Mortgages — ARMs, come in many varieties. ARMs are normally adjusted every six months, based on various indexes.

Most ARM programs feature a "cap" that protects you 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 directly, caps the amount that your payment can go up in a given period. The majority of ARMs also cap your rate over the life of the loan.

ARMs usually start at a very low rate that may increase as the loan ages. You've probably heard of 5/1 or 3/1 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 adjust. Loans like this are usually best for people who expect to move in three or five years. These types of adjustable rate programs benefit people who plan to move before the loan adjusts.

You might choose an Adjustable Rate Mortgage to get 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 in a down market because homeowners can get stuck with increasing rates if they cannot sell their home or refinance at the lower property value.

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