30 year fixed rate mortgages are the “classic” mortgage in America (though they are not quite the original mortgage, in fact the concept originated during FDR’s presidency over 60 years ago). Fixed rate mortgages have been exceptionally popular for three generations in America, and there is good reason:
– Fixed Rate Mortgages are predictable, reliable and widely available.
– What fixed rate mortgages are not is flexible, nor are they perceived as affordable.
That’s beginning to change, as rates rise in the broader mortgage markets, adjustable rate mortgages, or ARM loans, are providing fewer and fewer advantages over fixed rate mortgages, except for the fact that most of the popular Option ARM or Cash Flow Option loans available in the market are in fact adjustable rate ARM mortgages. But in the past several months, new programs have been introduced which provide the payment flexibility of the adjustable rate mortgage and the security of the fixed rate mortgage.
Now, it is possible to obtain 30 year fixed rate mortgages with a fully amortized, principal and interest payment as low as, and sometimes lower than, a competing ARM or adjustable rate mortgage. 30 Year Fixed Mortgages are also available with Interest Only options for the first 10, 15 and in some cases 20 years. And to round out the offerings, even minimum payments, once exclusively the province of Adjustable Rate Mortgages, are now available to borrowers who want to know that their rate is fixed for 30 years.
So why refinance into an ARM in today’s market? Depending on your credit score and other qualifying criteria such as the amount of equity in your home, a 30 year fixed rate mortgage may or may not be available to you personally at better terms than an Adjustable Rate Mortgage. In such circumstances, it may be advisable to select a Hybrid ARM mortgage, which allows for a fixed rate period of anywhere from 6 months to 10 years. Called hybrids because they combine the ARM mortgage with a fixed introductory rate (often called a “teaser” or “start” rate), the most popular loans in this category are fixed for 3 or 5 years. So is a Hybrid ARM a fixed rate mortgage? The answer is Yes and No. It is a fixed rate mortgage for the first few years, but it is important to realize that you will probably wish to refinance this loan at some point prior to the end of the fixed introductory period.
By contrast, the newly introduced 30 Year Fixed Cash Flow is a true 30 year fixed rate mortgage, with a fixed principal and interest rate, a low interest only rate, and an even lower Cash Flow option which allows the borrower to defer interest in exchange for equity. Once available exclusively to high net worth private clients of banks, these new fixed rate mortgages are incredibly flexible when it comes to payments even while their rates are dependably fixed for the life of the loan. For many borrowers, the 30 year fixed rate mortgage has never been more affordable, more flexible, or more accessible.
Before making any decisions about refinancing your mortgage, it’s important to discuss your goals and your total financial situation with a seasoned expert who specializes in these programs. As always, our phones and our emails are open to your questions. Until next time, Live Smart.