Fixed versus adjustable loans

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A fixed-rate loan features the same payment over the life of your loan. Your property taxes increase, or rarely, decrease, and so might the homeowner's insurance in your monthly payment. For the most part monthly payments for your fixed-rate mortgage will be very stable.

Early in a fixed-rate loan, a large percentage 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 goes toward principal.

You might choose a fixed-rate loan to lock in a low rate. Borrowers choose these types of loans because interest rates are low and they wish to lock in this low rate. For homeowners who have an ARM now, refinancing with a fixed-rate loan can offer more stability in monthly payments. If you currently have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM), we can assist you in locking a fixed-rate at the best rate currently available. Call Diamante Mortgage at for details.

Adjustable Rate Mortgages — ARMs, as we called them above — come in a great number of varieties. Generally, interest rates on ARMs are determined by an outside index. A few of these are: the 6-month 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 ARMs feature this cap, which means they can't go up over a specific amount in a given period. 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 the payment can go up in one period. In addition, the great majority of ARM programs feature a "lifetime cap" — your rate can't go over the capped percentage.

ARMs most often feature the lowest rates toward the beginning. They provide that rate from a month to ten years. You may hear people talking about "3/1 ARMs" or "5/1 ARMs". For these loans, the introductory rate is fixed for three or five years. After this period it adjusts every year. These loans are fixed for a certain number of years (3 or 5), then adjust after the initial period. Loans like this are usually best for people who anticipate moving in three or five years. These types of adjustable rate programs are best for people who will sell their house or refinance before the initial lock expires.

Most borrowers who choose ARMs choose them because they want to take advantage of lower introductory rates and don't plan on remaining in the house for any longer than this initial low-rate period. ARMs can be risky in a down market because homeowners could be stuck with increasing rates when they cannot sell their home or refinance at the lower property value.

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