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March 13, 2018

Potential Disadvantages of an Adjustable Rate Mortgage

Filed under: Mortgage — Tags: , , , , , , , — admin @ 12:46 am

There are both advantages and disadvantages to adjustable rate mortgages. Your lender may be pushing an adjustable rate mortgage for any number of reasons, including that they are more profitable for the lending company. If you only look at the advantages of an adjustable rate mortgage, they can sound pretty good. You start with a lower interest rate, which means lower monthly payments. Because of the lower payments and rate, you may be able to afford a larger mortgage. Your lender may be pitching it as a way to buy a bigger house than you could otherwise afford, or suggest that it’s a good way to get into the housing market. Most commonly, the lender may suggest that you should take the adjustable rate mortgage for now, and refinance later when the rates adjust up. While all of these things are true, there are also cons to an adjustable rate mortgage. It’s important that you consider both sides of the issue before making a decision on the type of mortgage that you want to take out.What an adjustable rate mortgage is Unlike a fixed mortgage, which comes with a specific interest rate that remains the same for the life of the loan, an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) has an interest rate that fluctuates according to a specified index. Your adjustable rate may be tied to the interest rate on Treasury Bonds, to the Consumer Price Index or to a number of other indicators. If that index rises, your interest rate – and your monthly payment – will rise. If it drops, so will your interest rate and monthly payment. Why adjustable rate mortgages can be attractive When lenders approve a fixed rate mortgage, they are placing a finite limit on the amount of money they’ll make from that mortgage. An adjustable rate mortgage offers the lender the possibility of making more money if interest rates rise over the life of the loan – which is a good possibility. To offset the limit on fixed rate mortgages and make adjustable rate mortgages more attractive to home buyers, lenders typically offer lower interest rates on adjustable rate mortgages than they do on fixed rate mortgages. In essence, they are offering borrowers a more attractive rate in return for assuming the risk that their mortgage rate and monthly payment will rise over the term of the loan.The down side of adjustable rate mortgages When looked at in that light, some of the cons of an adjustable rate mortgage become obvious.1. Interest rates can go up, raising monthly payments as well. Most borrowers understand and accept that their monthly mortgage payment may rise, but are willing to take the chance that their mortgage will continue to remain affordable. It’s important to know the caps on interest rate rises by which your lender is bound. When you shop around for the best adjustable mortgage, it’s important to look further than the initial interest rate so that you understand exactly what expenses you may be agreeing to.2. Over time, payments nearly always surpass the payments on a fixed rate loan for the same amount. If you’re planning to stay in your home for the long haul, this can be an important consideration. Depending on the specific loan agreement that you make, it may be several years before the interest rate and monthly payment reach and surpass the monthly payment for a fixed mortgage. If you’re only planning to stay in your new home for a few years, this can work to your advantage, because you’ll be paying lower monthly payments for most of that time. If, on the other hand, this is your dream home where you plan to live the rest of your life, a fixed rate mortgage is probably more economical.3. Fluctuating payments can make it difficult for you to make a budget. While many ARMs only adjust once a year, some may adjust as often as once a month. More frequent adjustments can make it very difficult to fit your monthly mortgage payment into your budget because you will only know what your next month’s payment will be when you receive your notice. Even in the longer term, a fluctuating mortgage payment can make it difficult for you to plan long-term savings and investments.4. If fixed rate mortgages become favorable enough that you decide to switch, you’ll have to refinance and incur the costs and fees related to refinancing your mortgage.5. The annual interest cap may not apply to the first interest adjustment, and it may be a big one. Many lenders offer very low initial interest rates on ARMs to attract first time home buyers. Often, these mortgages exempt the first increase from the annual cap on adjustments. This can be especially difficult if the ARM was one of the hybrids that offered a low fixed rate for one to five years, with a jump to market interest rates at the end of the specified period. When that happens, your monthly mortgage payment can suddenly rise by hundreds or even more than a thousand dollars.

Brain Jenkins is a freelance writer who writes about topics and financial products pertaining to the mortgage industry such an adjustable rate mortgage available from a mortgage company.

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