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Thirty-Year Fixed Rate Mortgage
The traditional 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has a constant interest rate and monthly payments that never change. This may be a good choice if you plan to stay in your home for seven years or longer. If you plan to move within seven years, then adjustable-rate loans are usually cheaper. As a rule of thumb, it may be harder to qualify for fixed-rate loans than for adjustable rate loans. When interest rates are low, fixed-rate loans are generally not that much more expensive than adjustable-rate mortgages and may be a better deal in the long run, because you can lock in the rate for the life of your loan.
Fifteen-Year Fixed Rate Mortgage
This loan is fully amortized over a 15-year period and features constant monthly payments. It offers all the advantages of the 30-year loan, plus a lower interest rate—and you'll own your home twice as fast. The disadvantage is that, with a 15-year loan, you commit to a higher monthly payment. Many borrowers opt for a 30-year fixed-rate loan and voluntarily make larger payments that will pay off their loan in 15 years. This approach is often safer than committing to a higher monthly payment, since the difference in interest rates isn't that great.
Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARM)
A mortgage with an interest rate that changes during the life of the loan according to movements in an index rate. When it comes to ARMs there's a basic rule to remember...the longer you ask the lender to charge you a specific rate, the more expensive the loan.
Hybrid ARM (3/1 ARM, 5/1 ARM, 7/1 ARM, 10/1 ARM)
These increasingly popular ARMS—also called 3/1, 5/1, 7/1 or 10/1 —can offer the best of both worlds: lower interest rates (like ARMs) and a fixed payment for a longer period of time than most adjustable rate loans. For example, a "5/1 loan" has a fixed monthly payment and interest for the first five years and then turns into a traditional adjustable-rate loan, based on then-current rates for the remaining 25 years. It's a good choice for people who expect to move (or refinance) before or shortly after the adjustment occurs.
Interest Only Mortgage
With this loan, for a set term the borrower pays only the interest on the principal balance, with the principal balance unchanged. A five or ten year interest only period is typical. After this time, the principal balance is amortized for the remaining term. In other words, if a borrower had a thirty year mortgage loan and the first ten years were interest only, at the end of the first ten years, the principal balance would be amortized for the remaining period of twenty years. The practical result is that the early payments (in the interest-only period) are substantially lower than the later payments. This gives the borrower more flexibility because he is not forced to make payments towards principal. During the interest only years of the mortgage, the loan balance will not decrease unless the borrower makes additional payments towards principal. Interest only loans represent a somewhat higher risk for lenders, and therefore are subject to a slightly higher interest rate.
2/1 Buy Down Mortgage
The 2/1 Buy-Down Mortgage allows the borrower to qualify at below market rates so they can borrow more. The initial starting interest rate increases by 1% at the end of the first year and adjusts again by another 1% at the end of the second year. It then remains at a fixed interest rate for the remainder of the loan term. Borrowers often refinance at the end of the second year to obtain the best long-term rates. However, keeping the loan in place even for three full years or more will keep their average interest rate in line with the original market conditions.
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