When deciding upon a home mortgage, one of the most common options to consider other than a fixed rate loan is an ARM loan. ARM is an acronym for adjustable rate mortgage. With this product, a starting rate is fixed for a certain period of time, and then when that time is up, the rate can adjust depending upon a pre-determined index and margin. This period can be from anywhere of 1 month or 10 years, and can reflect principal and interest or sometimes interest only payments. The adjust results in the mortgage payment either increasing or decreasing. There is also a cap on how much the interest rate can go up or down.
Many people today are afraid of ARM loans and automatically only consider a fixed rate loan when applying for a mortgage. Depending on the market, this philosophy is sometimes the most economical route. But many times it may be worth your while to consider an ARM loan.
Within the past year or so, there wasn’t any real discernable advantage to considering an ARM over a fixed rate loan. The rates were comparable. But lately, the rates in general have crept up and, when comparing them, the ARM rates can have a healthy edge.
When I take a loan application, I ask my customer what their future plans are. Only going to be in town for a couple of years? Do you work for a company that relocates often? Do you plan to expand your family any time soon? Answering yes to any of these questions is a trigger for me to present an ARM loan as an option. The average homebuyer only stays in their home 7.5 years. I recently had a customer who knew she would be in town for only 3-4 years. The difference between a fixed rate and an ARM rate was .375%. The ARM rate was fixed for 5 years before any adjustment would occur. No brainer.
There are a myriad of mortgage products out there for the consumer to consider. Ask questions of your loan officer, and more importantly, expect your loan officer to ask questions of you. And if you can’t sleep at night because you know that one day that ARM loan can adjust, just remember one thing. You can always refinance your loan when that time comes. Now, get some sleep.
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