Trying to decide what type of mortgage is right for you can be tricky business. So you may be wondering what is an adjustable rate mortgage? An adjustable rate mortgage or ARM, has an interest rate that is linked to an economic index. This means the interest rate, and your payments, adjust up or down as the index changes. There are three things to know about adjustable rate mortgages: index, margin and adjustment period. What is the index? The index is a guide that lenders use to measure interest rate changes. Common indexes used by lenders include the activity of one, three, and five-year Treasury securities. Each adjustable rate mortgage is linked to a specific index. The margin is the lender's cost of doing business plus the profit they will make on the loan. The margin is added to the index rate to determine your total interest rate. The adjustment period is the period between potential interest rate adjustments. For example, you may see a loan described as a 5-1. The first figure (5) refers to the initial period of the loan, or how long the rate will stay the same. The second number (1) is the adjustment period. This is how often adjustments can be made to the rate after the initial period has ended. In this case, one year or annually. An adjustable rate mortgage might be a good choice if you are looking to qualify for a larger loan. The rate of an ARM is typically lower than a fixed rate mortgage. Remember, when the adjustment period is up the rate and payment can increase. Another reason to consider an ARM is if you are planning to sell the home within a few years. If this is the case you may end up selling before the adjustment period is up. Federal law provides that all lenders provide a federal Truth in Lending Disclosure Statement before consummating a consumer credit transaction. This will be given to you in writing. It is designed to help you compare and select a mortgage.
The first step in home buying is getting a mortgage. Many home owners also find themselves in a maze when they start the refinance process. Navigating the mortgage process can be confusing. There is so much to know between rates, types of mortgages and payment schedules. Avoiding making a mistake in the mortgage process can save you a lot of money and headaches. Here is a list of the biggest mortgage mistakes that potential borrowers make. 1. No or Low Down Payment Buying a home with no or a low down payment is not a good idea. A large down payment increases the amount of equity the borrower has in the home. It also reduces the bank’s liability on the home. Research has shown that borrowers that place down a large down payment are much more likely to make their mortgage payments. If they do not they will also lose money. Borrowers who put little to nothing down on their homes find themselves upside down on their mortgage and end up just walking away. They owe more money than the home is worth. The more a borrower owes, the more likely they are to walk away and be subject to credit damaging foreclosure. 2. Adjustable Rate Mortgages or ARMs Adjustable rate mortgages or ARMs sound too good to be true and they can be. The loan starts off with a low interest rate for the first two to five years. This allows the borrower to buy a larger house than they can normally qualify for. After two to five years the low adjustable rate expires and the interest rate resets to a higher market rate. Now the borrowers can no longer make the higher payment not can they refinance to a lower rate because they often do not have the equity in the home to qualify for a refinance. Many borrowers end up with high mortgage payments that are two to three times their original payments. 3. No Documentation Loans No documentation loans or sometimes called “liar loans” were very popular prior to the subprime meltdown. These loans requires little to no documentation. They do not require verification of the borrower's income, assets and/or expenses. Unfortunately borrowers have a tendency to inflate their income so that they can buy a larger house. The problems start once the mortgage payment is due. Because the borrower does not have the income they are unable to make mortgage payments and often end up face bankruptcy and foreclosure. 4. Reverse Mortgages You have seen the commercials and even infomercials devoted to advocating reverse mortgages. A reverse mortgage is a loan available to borrowers age 62 and up. It uses the equity from the borrower’s home. The available equity is paid out in a steady stream of payments or in a lump sum like an annuity. Reverse mortgage have can be dangerous and have many drawbacks. There are many fees associated with reverse mortgages. These includes origination fees, mortgage insurance, title insurance, appraisal fees, attorney fees and many other miscellaneous fees that can quickly eat at the home’s equity. Another drawback; the borrower loses full ownership of their home and the bank now owns the home Avoiding the pitfalls of the mortgage maze will hopefully help you keep in good financial health as a home can be your best investment. .
When it comes to mortgages there is a lot to know and a lot of choices. One loan that was popular before the housing crisis was the interest-only loan. An interest-only loan is an adjustable-rate loan with an initial fixed period when only interest is due. They are typically available in 5-, 7- or 10-year terms. Economists blame interest-only loans for the foreclosure crisis citing they were issued too freely. Today, interest-only loans are more difficult to obtain. Borrowers were using interest-only loans to qualify for a more expensive home and when the interest-only term ended the payment went up leaving many homeowners unable to afford the mortgage payment. Interest-only loans are now being used by wealthy borrowers as a financial tool to help them manage irregular cash flow, reap a tax benefit, or free up cash for investment elsewhere. Lenders that offer interest-only loans have strict qualifying standards. They generally require 30 percent equity in a property, and a minimum FICO score of 720. Lenders also look at the ability to pay back the loan is based on the fully amortized payment, not the interest-only payment.
With mortgage rates at all time lows, you might be wondering if you should be considering refinancing your home. While it may seem like a great thing to do, there are a few things to consider before you decide. An obvious reason for refinancing to a lower interest rate is the monthly, and even more importantly the long term, savings you will get. Depending on the decrease in interest rate and the amount of the loan, you could see a savings of at least $50/month or $600/year or $6000/10 years. Refinancing to a shorter term loan can also help save on the interest you pay over the life of the loan so if you can afford a 15 year mortgage the benefits outweigh that of a 30 year. Some things to consider - If you have owned your home for a long time, your monthly payments are going more towards the principal of the loan, not the interest. Refinancing would cause you revert back to monthly payments of more interest than principal, losing the equity that you have built in your home. You may be charged for an appraisal on your home which can be around $500. The bank will want to make sure that you are refinancing for an amount your home is worth so some out of pocket expense is required. If you plan on moving in the next few years, refinancing may not be worth the amount you will pay in closing costs. There are several refinancing calculators available on the web including at http://www.zillow.com/mortgage-calculator/refinance-calculator/ and http://www.smartmoney.com/calculator/real-estate/should-i-refinance-my-mortgage-1302835660427/. No matter what you choose, being fully informed of all the options, costs and advantages/disadvantages is key to a successful refinance. Make sure you talk with you current lender, as well as other lenders to get the best refinance possible.
Are you looking to buy a bigger home? If you are looking to make the move a jumbo mortgage might be right for you. A jumbo mortgage is a home loan with an amount that exceeds conforming loan limits set by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) or better known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Currently, the loan limit is $417,000 in most parts of the United States, but can increase to $625,500 in the higher cost areas. OFHEO sets the conforming loan limit size on an annual basis. Jumbo loans have slightly higher interest rates because they carry more credit risk.