South Orange County Blog from Bob Phillips

Pros And Cons Of Adjustable Rate Mortgages

Pros And Cons Of Adjustable Rate MortgagesWhen you are in the market for your next home, you’ll be faced with numerous options for financing your home. One of the choices you’ll have to make is whether to choose a fixed or adjustable rate mortgage.

In some cases, an adjustable rate mortgage 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 An Adjustable Rate Mortgage

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 convert 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 May Contain Hazards

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:

  • Increasing rates – 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 can anticipate an increase in their monthly payments.
  • Prepayment clauses – oftentimes, lenders include a prepayment penalty with ARM loans which can be devastating 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
  • Home Values – one of the biggest challenges borrowers face with an ARM is what happens if the property’s value decreases: Refinancing a home into a fixed-rate mortgage may be impossible 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.

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Adjustable-Rate Mortgages Starting To Adjust Higher

Posted in mortgage rates by southorangecounty on September 13, 2011

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 in California 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.

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Should You Refinance Your ARM, Or Let It Adjust Lower?

Posted in Adjustable Rate Mortgages by southorangecounty on July 13, 2010

ARM adjustment schedule 2008-2010

If your adjustable rate mortgage is due to adjust this year, don’t go rushing to replace it just yet. Your soon-to-adjust mortgage rate may actually go lower. It’s related to the math behind the ARM.

Conventional, adjustable-rate mortgages share a common life cycle:

  1. There’s a “starter period” in which the interest rate remains fixed
  2. There’s an initial adjustment period after the starter period called the “first adjustment”
  3. There’s a subsequent annual adjustment until the loan’s term expires — usually at Year 30.

The starter period will vary from 1 to 10 years, but at the point of first adjustment, conventional ARMs become the same. A homeowner’s new, adjusted mortgage rate is determined by the sum of some constant, and a variable. The constant is most often 2.25% and the variable is most often the 12-month LIBOR.

As a formula, the math looks like this:

(Adjusted Mortgage Rates) = (12-Month LIBOR) + (2.250 Percent)

LIBOR is an acronym standing for London Interbank Offered Rate. It’s the rate at which banks borrow money from each other and, lately, LIBOR has been low. As a result, adjusting mortgage rates have been low, too.

Last year, 5-year ARMs were adjusting to 6 percent or higher. Today, they’re adjusting to 3.375%.

Based on the math, it may be wise to just let your ARM adjust this year. Or, depending on how long you plan to stay in your home, consider a refinance to a new ARM.  Starter rates on today’s adjustable rate mortgages are exceptionally low in Rancho Santa Margarita , as are the rates for fixed rate loans.

Either way, talk to your loan officer about making a plan. With mortgage rates as low as they’ve ever been in history, homeowners have some interesting options. Just don’t wait too long. LIBOR — and mortgage rates in general — are known to change quickly.

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