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Adjustable Rate Mortgages - The Basics

An adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) has an interest rate that fluctuates periodically. This is in contrast to a fixed rate mortgage, which always has the same interest rate.

Every ARM has basic components:

  1. An index
  2. A margin
  3. Adjustment Period
  4. An interest rate cap
  5. An initial interest rate

The Index

An ARM’s interest rate is tied to one of many economic indices, some examples of which are the 1-year constant maturity Treasury security, the Cost of Funds Index, or the London Interbank Offered Rate. Different indices move at different rates so know the characteristics of the index used for your ARM.

The Margin

The interest rate for your ARM will be calculated by adding a margin to the interest rate from the index. The margin is basically the markup charged by the lender that allows them to make a profit off of your loan, such as adding 2% to the index, where the 2% is the margin. The margin of your loan usually does not fluctuate.

The Adjustment Period

The Adjustment Period controls when and how often your interest rate changes. For example, if your ARM has an adjustment period of 1 year, your interest rate will be subject to change at the end of each year and your monthly mortgage payment will be recalculated to reflect this change.

The Interest Rate Cap

Interest rate caps are built into the loan to protect the borrower from drastic interest rate fluctuations. The caps limit how much the interest rate or monthly payment can change at the end of each adjustment period. An ARM can also have a cap for the life of the loan. For example, during the life of a loan, the interest rate can only be increased by 5%.

The Initial Interest Rate

The Initial Interest Rate is the interest rate that you start with at the beginning of your loan period. The length of time your loan stays at this rate is built into the loan. For example, you may stay at the initial interest rate for 1 year, 5 years, or another length of time depending on your specific mortgage. This type of ARM is generally referred to as a Hybrid ARM. The initial interest rate for an adjustable rate mortgage is generally lower than that of a fixed rate mortgage.

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This property sale was very difficult to get accomplished. Mrs. Debbie Trey work many hours and months to get this sale done. I believe her dedication to this sale was second to none. I'm currently out of the country for my job but when I come back to Kings Bay and I'm looking for a home or land to purchase I will definitely seek out Mrs. Trey for I know she will not quit and that determination and dedication to her customers has left an impression on me forever. I highly recommend anyone looking for a home in southeast Ga to use Mrs. Trey she is defiantly an asset to the ERA team. Great Job! Very Satisfied Customer.
We have purchased a few homes over the years, and have not had much success in working with realtors until we met and worked with Ginny. Ginny has by far been the best realtor we have ever worked with. She kept us well informed of the status of the sale. She came through at closing when there was a glitch, thus allowing us to close on time. Ginny went above and beyond to make sure we made the purchase that was best for us. She told us about the new city we were moving to, such as the history things to do and see. Ginny made us feel welcome and excited about moving back to a smaller community. She is a keeper. Thank you to Ginny and your office for a great buying experience.
Ginny did a great job. She made sure we were aware of the status of the sale and was ready to jump in when there was a glitch at closing. Because of her actions we were able to close on time. Thanks so much. I would recommend her to friends and family.
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