ARMs…the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Adjustable rate mortgages or ARMs can be a wonderful mortgage tool or they can be downright ugly.

ARMs typically come in flavors such as the 3/1, 5/1, 7/1 or 10/1.  The first number is the number of years that the initial interest rate is fixed.  The second number means that after the initial fixed rate period ends, the interest rate can change once a year.

ARMs have caps, typically 5/2/5.  The first number means that the interest rate can go up 5% in the first adjustment after the fixed rate period.  The second number means that the interest rate can go up a maximum of 2% per year after the initial adjustment.  The third number means that the interest rate can only go as high as 5% over the initial fixed rate.

So, if you have a 5/1 ARM with 5/2/5 caps and an initial fixed rate of 4%, the interest rate could go up to 9% at the very first adjustment after 5 years.  But if the ARM rate only went up to 6% after the first adjustment, the rate could only increase by 2% in the second adjustment to 8%. And the rate could never go above 9%.

ARMs can be a great mortgage tool if you are planning to pay off your mortgage or move within the fixed rate time frame.  Rates on 5/1 ARMs are below 4% at this moment.

If you are not planning to move or pay off your mortgage within the fixed rate time frame, ARMs can pose a big risk.  With the U.S. Government spending money as fast as they can print it, mortgage rates are going to go up in the near future.  And rates are probably going to go up dramatically.  If you are in an adjustable rate mortgage and are not planning to move or pay off the mortgage, it would probably be wise to refinance into a fixed rate mortgage while rates are low.

And now for the ugly.  If you have an Option ARM and have been paying the minimum payment, you probably have a negative amortization loan, meaning that the amount of principle that you owe is increasing every month.  You are either underwater or sinking fast.  Refinance if you can, as soon as you can.  

Posted by Terry Brunner.  Terry is a Senior Loan Officer with Horizon Financial.  Terry can be reached toll free @ (877) 627-9211 x150 or email TBrunner@HorizonFinancial.org.  Visit Horizon’s website at www.horizonfinancial.org

Happy Fourth Of July!

Posted by Terry Brunner.  Terry is a Senior Loan Officer with Horizon  Financial.  Terry can be reached toll free @ (877) 627-9211 x150 or   email TBrunner@HorizonFinancial.org.  Visit Horizon’s website at www.horizonfinancial.org