Pros and Cons of Adjustable Rate Mortgages

Pros and Cons of Adjustable Rate MortgagesWhen you are in the market for a new home, you may be faced with numerous options for financing your home. One of the choices you will have to make is whether to apply for a fixed or adjustable rate mortgage. In some cases, an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) may be your best option, but keep in mind, they are not the answer for everyone.

Adjustable rate mortgages can be risky for some borrowers and it’s important to understand both the pros and cons.

When To Consider Adjustable Rate Mortgages

Perhaps one of the best things about ARMs is they typically have a lower starting interest rate than fixed rate mortgages. For some borrowers, this means it is easier for them to qualify for a loan. ARMs are beneficial for borrowers who:

  • Anticipate an income increase – for borrowers who are anticipating their income to increase over the next year or two, an ARM may be the right option.
  • Will be reducing their debt – those borrowers who have automobile loans or student loans that will be paid off in the next few years may benefit from an ARM which would allow them to qualify for a larger mortgage today anticipating their ability to covert to a fixed-rate mortgage.
  • Are purchasing a starter home – when you anticipate living in a home for five years or less, an adjustable rate mortgage may help you save money for a bigger home.

Adjustable Rate Mortgage Concerns

There are a number of different types of adjustable rate mortgages and they are each tied to specific interest rate indexes. While an ARM may offer borrowers some flexibility in terms of income and debt ratios, the downsides cannot be ignored. Some of the cons of using an ARM to finance your mortgage include:

  • Rate adjustments – borrowers should carefully review their loan documents to see how frequently their interest rates may increase. Some loans adjust annually while other may not increase for three to five years after the mortgage is signed. For borrowers, this means they may anticipate an increase in their monthly payments.
  • Prepayment clauses – oftentimes, lenders include a prepayment penalty with ARM loans which can be surprising for borrowers. Before agreeing to an ARM, make sure you read the documents very carefully to determine how long you need to hold the loan and if there is a prepayment clause.
  • Home values – one of the biggest challenges borrowers face with an ARM is what happens if the property value decreases: Refinancing a home into a fixed-rate mortgage may be more difficult if this occurs.

Borrowers who are searching for the right mortgage should discuss all options with their loan officer. There are specific instances when an ARM may be the best option and there are other times, such as if you plan to stay in your home for more than five years, where a fixed-rate mortgage may be your best option.

Should You Consider an Adjustable Rate Mortgage For Your Home Purchase?

Should You Consider an Adjustable Rate Mortgage For Your Home Purchase?With mortgage rates finally looking like they may move upward a bit as the overall market improves the adjustable rate mortgage starts to come into play again. Better known as the ARM home loan, the adjustable rate mortgage can be a flexible, powerful tool, depending on how it is used.

ARMs Can Help Save On Total Interest Expense

When rates were higher years ago, the ARM was an alternative way to obtain financing for a home without paying as much in interest with every payment. This was ideal for folks who felt that a few years forward the regular market rates would drop or they didn’t plan to stay in the same home for a number of years.

By trading away the mundane predictability of a 30-year fixed loan, the borrower was rewarded with a lower cost loan via an ARM. However, after a short period, anywhere from six month to ten years, the ARM would reset and the rate charged would change to a specific market index.

ARMs became all the rage in the early and mid-2000s as people bought homes to then sell them quickly with rising property values. It was low cost interest paid for large sums of financing, which was then paid back and profits were made just holding a home two years or so and well within the typical ARM period. However, when the real estate market went south a number of years back, many had to hold onto homes longer and rates reset to a higher, floating rate index.

The Advantages of Adjustable Rate Mortgages

Today, the advantage of the ARM again presents itself as rates begin to rise, offering again lower interest rates for home financing for a typical one to ten years. But these tools still include the rate reset after the intro period to consider, and with mortgage rates on an upward trajectory for the next few years it’s worth noting that the loan may cost more when the switch happens.

Thus a borrower should remember to look at the ARM as a shorter-term borrowing tool. A few options that can off-set the potential added interest rate costs in the future are:

 

  • sell the home prior to the reset date while verifying that there is no pre-payment penalty period
  • sell the home for a substantial amount more than it was bought for based on price appreciation or property improvement
  • refinance to a fixed-rate loan at a later date to avoid potentially higher index-based floating rates

 

The same caveat from a decade ago applies to today’s ARMs: they can be extremely valuable for up-front borrowing savings, but borrowers need to always remain aware of the included reset date and what it means for further financial obligations down the line.

As always, talk with your trusted mortgage loan professional to examine the best course of action for your personal situation.

Need to Discuss – How to Refinance Your Adjustable-rate Mortgage with Better Terms

How to Refinance Your Adjustable-rate Mortgage with Better TermsAn adjustable-rate mortgage was once a great mortgage product, at a time when home buyers wanted to avoid locking in high interest rates. But with historically low interest rates now available to millions of buyers and rates expected to rise in 2017, lots of mortgage holders are trying to find a deal and negotiate better terms before rates go up. One great way to save on mortgage costs is to refinance your adjustable-rate mortgage.

So how can you make a mortgage refinance work for you? Here are a few tactics you can use to get better terms through a refinance on your adjustable-rate mortgage.

Get Your Finances In Order

In order to successfully refinance your adjustable-rate mortgage, you’ll need to be in a strong financial position for a variety of reasons. Firstly, having a strong credit score gives you much more leverage when negotiating with a lender. And secondly, refinancing a mortgage will come with closing costs that you’ll need to pay out of pocket.

Make sure your finances are in good shape before you try to refinance it’ll be much easier.

Extend The Loan’s Term For Lower Monthly Payments

Recasting a mortgage is a popular way to reduce your monthly mortgage payments without giving up other favorable terms in your loan. When you recast your mortgage, you make a lump sum payment directly toward the principal amount of the loan, which reduces the loan balance, decreases your interest payments, and lowers your monthly payments. The loan maintains its original term, but it becomes much easier to manage.

Interest Rate Reset Coming Up? Negotiate An Interest Rate Cap

One little-known tactic that you can use to get better terms is to take advantage of an interest rate reset to negotiate a rate cap. In order to take advantage of this, you’ll need to get a mortgage approval and loan estimate for a fixed-rate mortgage. Once you have an approval in hand, your bank may have the option to offer to cap your interest rate.

Refinancing an adjustable-rate mortgage is becoming increasingly common, and for good reason. A mortgage advisor can help you to navigate the refinancing process. Contact your local mortgage professional to learn more.

Adjustable-Rate Mortgages Starting To Adjust Higher

ARM adjustments creeping higher

For the first time in a year, homeowners with adjusting mortgages are facing rising mortgage rates. The interest rate by which many adjustable-rate mortgages adjust has climbed to its highest level since September 2010, and looks poised to reach higher.

This is because of the formula by which adjustable-rate mortgage adjust.

Each year, when due for a reset, an adjustable-rate mortgage’s rate changes to the sum of fixed number known as a “margin”, and a variable figure known as an “index”. For conforming mortgages, the margin is typically set to 2.250 percent; the index is often equal to the 12-month LIBOR.

LIBOR stands for the London Interbank Offered Rate. It’s a rate at which banks lend to each other overnight.

Expressed as a math formula, the adjusting ARM formula reads :

(New Mortgage Rate) = (2.250 percent) + (Current 1-Year LIBOR)

LIBOR has been rising lately, which explains why ARMs are adjusting higher as compared to earlier this year. There has been considerable stress on the financial sector and LIBOR reflects the uncertainty that bankers feel for the sector. 

LIBOR last spiked after the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 amid global financial fears. Analysts expect LIBOR to rise into 2012 because of bubbling concerns in the Eurozone.

Despite LIBOR’s rise, though, most adjusting, conforming ARMs are still resetting near 3 percent. For this reason, homeowners with ARMs may want to consider letting their respective loans adjust with the market.

This is because an adjusting mortgage rate near 3 percent may be better than what’s available with a “fresh loan” — even as 5-year ARMs rates make new all-time lows. Unlike a straight refinance to lower rates, an adjusting loan requires no closing costs, requires no appraisal, and requires no verifications.

So, if you have an adjustable-rate mortgage that’s set to reset this season, don’t rush to refinance it. Talk to your lender and uncover your options. Your best course of action may be to stay the course.