Adjustable Rate Mortgages: When They Are the Right Mortgage
Posted by Nick Niesen on October 29th, 2010
Most of us are familiar with tradition rate mortgages. We borrow a fixed amount of money for 15 to 30 y ears and we agree to pay it back at a given interest rate over the life of the loan. Our payments are the same amount every month, whether it is for 5 years or 30 years. For the majority of homeowners out there this is the most ideal type of mortgage as it has no surprises or sudden increases in monthly payments. However, for some home buyers, an adjustable rate mortgage may very well be the better financial tool.
An Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) is one that can go up or down over time depending on market conditions. Some ARM's adjust once, while others can adjust several times over the life of the loan. The main purpose behind an ARM was to let people buy more house then they might be able to afford now assuming that as the years went by their earning power would be greater and thus when the mortgage rate adjusted they could afford the new payment. Unfortunately, many people don't understand how ARM's work and are often unprepared for when the rate adjustments take place.
There is a segment of the population out there that can benefit from ARM's, regardless of the rates associated with them. Those who plan to be in their home for five years or less typically can save quite a bit by using an ARM vs. a traditional mortgage. An ARM let's them pay an interest rate that is usually below market rates for the first few years of the loan. Since a homeowner may be planning to move in a short time span (such as when the kids graduate from school) they can take advantage of the low up-front rate and sell the home before the rates have a chance to adjust.
A savvy home buyer who maintains a stellar credit rating could also use ARM's to get a lower rate up front for a few years and then switch to a fixed rate mortgage through a refinance down the road. They may be able to save thousands of dollars in interest by switching from an ARM to a traditional mortgage even after paying the refinance fees.
Finally, ARM's can be the right mortgage for you if you study the markets and know where the rates are heading. If interest rates are currently running high and you know that over time they will settle back down, then getting an ARM can help you take advantage of those lower rates over time while helping protect you from the high rates of today.
Of course, as with any mortgage, you should carefully review with the mortgage lender all of the costs and assumptions. An ARM is not always the best mortgage tool of choice depending on your situation. Make sure you understand what you are signing and always get more than one mortgage rate quote no matter what type of mortgage you go with.
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About the AuthorNick Niesen
Joined: April 29th, 2015
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