Differences between fixed and adjustable loans

With a fixed-rate loan, your payment never changes for the entire duration of your loan. The longer you pay, the more of your payment goes toward principal. The property tax and homeowners insurance which are almost always part of the payment will increase over time, but generally, payments on these types of loans don't increase much.

Your first few years of payments on a fixed-rate loan go mostly toward interest. That reverses itself as the loan ages.

You can choose a fixed-rate loan in order to lock in a low rate. Borrowers select these types of loans when interest rates are low and they wish to lock in the low rate. If you have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) now, refinancing with a fixed-rate loan can offer more stability in monthly payments. If you have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) now, we'd love to help you lock in a fixed-rate at the best rate currently available. Call SkyWest Mortgage at (916) 399-5500 to discuss your situation with one of our professionals.

There are many kinds of Adjustable Rate Mortgages. ARMs usually adjust every six months, based on various indexes.

Most programs feature a cap that protects you from sudden monthly payment increases. There may be a cap on interest rate variances 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. Your loan may have a "payment cap" that instead of capping the interest rate directly, caps the amount your monthly payment can go up in one period. Additionally, almost all ARM programs feature a "lifetime cap" — this means that your interest rate will never go over the cap percentage.

ARMs most often have the lowest rates toward the start. They provide that rate for an initial period that varies greatly. You've likely heard of 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 types of loans are fixed for a certain number of years (3 or 5), then they adjust after the initial period. Loans like this are often best for borrowers who anticipate moving in three or five years. These types of adjustable rate loans benefit borrowers who plan to move before the initial lock expires.

You might choose an Adjustable Rate Mortgage to take advantage of a very low introductory interest rate and count on moving, refinancing or simply absorbing the higher rate after the introductory rate goes up. ARMs can be risky in a down market because homeowners can get stuck with increasing rates when they can't sell their home or refinance with a lower property value.

Have questions about mortgage loans? Call us at (916) 399-5500. We answer questions about different types of loans every day.

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