How To Calculate Total Interest Paid On A Loan Formula Should I Get a Fixed-Rate Or Adjustable-Rate Mortgage?

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Should I Get a Fixed-Rate Or Adjustable-Rate Mortgage?

The answer depends on several factors, including your financial situation. Let’s look at the main differences between the two types of mortgages.

Fixed rate mortgage

The two main components needed to compare fixed rate mortgages are interest rate and points. Points are fees paid to the lender at the beginning of the mortgage term. They are based on the loan percentage. Thus, one point equals one percent of the loan amount. Therefore, a $100,000 mortgage with 1.5 points would cost $1,500.

One lender may offer a lower interest rate than another, but the points may be higher, resulting in a less attractive loan. Here it is important to consider how long you intend to hold the mortgage. The longer you plan to keep the mortgage, the more reasonable the higher point with the lower interest rate. And the less time you plan to be in the home, the more interest you can benefit from low points or no points at all.

Also, be sure to ask your lender for the total amount of all associated fees. Lenders may charge a variety of fees that can add up in a hurry.

Some of the more common fees include:

* application fee

* credit report

* property valuation

* title insurance

* escrow fees

Ask for a detailed list of all fees in writing so you can compare mortgages fairly.

Adjustable rate mortgage

Choosing the best adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) is basically impossible because there are unknowns. However, you can look at some loan factors and make a decision that you can live with depending on the situation.

The interest rate at which an adjustable rate mortgage starts is called the prime rate. This rate is the least important when looking at ARM because it changes. The prime rate is often used as a teaser rate to make you think the loan has good terms.

The most important factors to consider when deciding on an ARM are the index formula and the margin equals the interest rate. The index is what the lender uses to calculate your specific interest rate. Indices can differ in how quickly they react to interest rate fluctuations. Some of the more common indices used are Treasury bills (T-bills) and certificates of deposit (CDs). The margin is a fixed number that is added to the index to get the interest rate. Margins are usually around 2.5 percent.

Another important consideration is the frequency with which the mortgage interest rate is recalculated. Some ARMs adjust monthly, while others only adjust every 6 or 12 months.

Interest rates are also used to limit the amount the rate can change during the adjustment period. An adjustable rate mortgage that adjusts every 12 months can be limited to a 1-2 percent change up or down. There should also be a lifetime interest rate to limit the interest rate from changing over the life of the loan, which is usually about 5 to 6 percent higher than the prime rate.

Before accepting an ARM, you should find out the payment at the highest rate allowed to see if you can handle the worst payment.

Finally, other lender fees should be considered by requesting a written statement of total fees.

Fixed vs. ARM payments

A fixed rate mortgage is just that, a fixed interest rate for the life of the loan. The payment will always stay the same, with no fluctuations, but there is a risk that you could be stuck with a higher rate if interest rates drop significantly.

ARM rates can fluctuate several times over the life of the loan, thereby changing the size of your monthly payment. ARMs offer potential interest savings because the prime rate is usually lower than a fixed rate. Also, if interest rates fall or stay the same, there are ongoing savings compared to a fixed loan. But when interest rates rise, an ARM pays more than a fixed-rate loan.

Choosing a fixed rate or adjustable rate mortgage

First, consider the risk you can take if the monthly payment amount changes. Do you have savings? Or are you maxed out on budget with no emergency savings? If you can’t afford to pay the highest payment amount on your ARM, you should avoid this type of loan.

Also think about how long you plan to keep the mortgage. In general, ARMs are better for a 5-7 year mortgage. If you intend to keep your mortgage for the long term, a fixed rate mortgage may be a better and less stressful option.

Finally, if the thought of having an adjustable rate mortgage freaks you out…don’t! The stress is never worth the potential savings. And if interest rates drop significantly, you may be able to refinance at a lower rate anyway.

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