An adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) is a home loan with an interest rate that changes after a fixed amount of time—usually 5-7 years. Adjustable rate mortgages s typically offer lower interest rates and lower monthly payments than a fixed rate mortgage. After the allotted time passes, the rate may adjust and your monthly mortgage payments will adjust accordingly.
If your top priority is a low monthly payment or you don’t plan on staying in your home for more than 5-7 years, an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) could be right for you. If flexibility is your top priority, this loan can be a viable alternative to a 15 or 30-year fixed rate mortgage.
An adjustable rate mortgage can give you low rates and extra security—important considerations when searching for your perfect home. The benefits of an adjustable rate mortgage include:
As the borrower, you take advantage of lower initial payments by leveraging the possibility that the mortgage interest rate could increase after the initial term. This means that your adjustable rate mortgage transfers part of your home loan’s interest rate risk from the lender to the borrower, giving you the lowest rate on the market.
An adjustable rate mortgage is also a great way to qualify for a higher loan amount, giving you the means to purchase a more expensive home. Many homebuyers will take out large mortgages to secure a 1-year ARM and later refinance to prevent a rate hike.
However, ARMs are not the ideal mortgage solution for everyone. The following are some particularities of adjustable rate mortgages that may be less than ideal, causing you to rethink a standard fixed mortgage rate.
So, what’s the better choice? An adjustable rate mortgage or a fixed rate mortgage? This is a determination you will, of course, have to make yourself. Each offers something different. Fixed-rate mortgages offer a permanent rate and a sense of security but at rates that can seem daunting. An adjustable rate mortgage costs less initially, which is appealing, but may ultimately lead to uncertainly.
These key differences will be a huge factor in your decision but there are other important questions to answer when deciding which loan is better for you:
1. What is the current interest rate environment?
A major determining factor may be the current interest rate environment. If rates are low, a fixed-rate mortgage makes the most sense – you’re in an ideal financial environment that you won’t want to jeopardize. However, if rates have become high, things change. With an adjustable rate mortgage, you have a lower initial rate to begin with and if (and when) rates eventually fall, you may well wind up with lower payments. In the meantime, you get to enjoy the benefits of a owning your own home.
2. Do you plan on staying in the home long?
If not, an adjustable rate mortgage may be the right call. Your initial payment and rate will be low and, if you’re only planning to stay for a few years, you’ll avoid exposure to the huge rate adjustments that can be an ARMs downfall. Meanwhile, you can build up your savings for the more ideal home you may have your eye on.
3. When is the adjustment for the ARM made? How frequently does it adjust?
After an initial fixed period, odds are your adjustable rate mortgage will adjust fairly frequently. Usually, this is on the same date as the initial mortgage making it a yearly anniversary you can count on, but in some cases they adjust much more frequently – sometimes even every month. For some, this can be volatile and overwhelming making a fixed-rate mortgage more appealing.
At eHome Funding, we’ve helped hundreds of thousands of Americans find a terrific loan. Apply now—we can help you find the perfect adjustable rate mortgage!