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Home Loans and Mortgages - The Selection Can Be Bewildering


For years, when someone wanted to purchase or refinance a home, the choices were simple. The buyer chose either a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage or a 30 year fixed-rate mortgage. That was it. Of course, those were also the days of twenty percent down payments, which seriously hindered the ability of many Americans to obtain the loan necessary to buy their own home. In recent years, more flexible loan types have become available and down payment requirements have been relaxed. There are now far more choices of loan types available for the borrower than ever before. That can be a mixed blessing, however, as prospective borrowers now have to do a tremendous amount of homework in order to determine which type of loan might be the best choice. The selection of loan types that are currently available can be quite bewildering, and the wrong choice could cost the prospective borrower thousands of dollars over the term of the loan.

The standard 15-year and 30-year mortgages are still quite popular. Each provides the stability of a fixed interest rate and a payment that will remain the same throughout the duration of the life of the mortgage. When interest rates are near historic lows, as they are today, these traditional choices work well for most buyers. Buyers who find a 15-year or 30-year mortgage to be within their means would probably benefit from obtaining such a mortgage now.

In recent years, as home prices have increased faster than wages, the lending industry has created more flexible types of mortgages designed to help buyers who may have trouble with traditional loans obtain financing. These types of loans tend to have adjustable interest rates:

  • The Adjustable Rate Mortgage, or ARM, has a rate that adjusts over time as spelled out in the mortgage agreement. Typically, the rate at the time of singing the loan is lower than that of a traditional mortgage, perhaps by one percent or so. The difference is that the rate can adjust over time as the market changes. The loan agreement will spell out how often the rate may change and how much the rate may change at one time. The agreement may also indicate a maximum interest rate that may be charged over the life of the loan. These types of loans are ideal for buyers who do not intend to stay in their home for more than a few years, or buyers who are purchasing in times of high interest rates, when there is an expectation that rates will drop over time.
  • Convertible mortgages are ARMs that offer the buyer an opportunity to "convert" the adjustable rate loan to a fixed rate loan after a certain period of time that is spelled out in the loan agreement. There is a fee charged for converting the mortgage, but the fee is typically less than the fees associated with refinancing the mortgage altogether.
  • Two Step mortgages offer an initial rate that is lower than the rate for fixed-rate mortgages for the first few years of the loan. After a set period of time, the rate increases to a fixed rate. This allows buyers to pay less during the early years of their loan, when they may earn less or need extra cash for home furnishings. The disadvantage of this type of loan is that the increase in the interest rate can be substantial, and may make the payments unaffordable for some buyers..
  • These are just a few of the types of loans that are currently available in the market. There are probably dozens of variations on ARM loans, and prospective buyers should study their options carefully before agreeing to a loan. Making the right choice could save buyers thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. Making the wrong choice could leave buyers with a loan that they cannot afford to pay. A little time spent on research is time well spent.

    ©Copyright 2005 by Retro Marketing.

    Charles Essmeier is the owner of Retro Marketing, a firm devoted to informational Websites, including End-Your-Debt.com, a Website devoted to debt consolidation information and HomeEquityHelp.net, a site devoted to information on home equity loans.


    MORE RESOURCES:
    Mortgage application increase led by higher refinance volume  National Mortgage News

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    LendingTree: Number of mortgage borrowers receiving interest rates under 5% rises  HousingWire

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    Ellie Mae: Millennials' interest in mortgage refinance spikes  HousingWire

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    Freddie Mac increases total and refinance origination forecasts  National Mortgage News

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    All Signs Point to a Housing Boom Ahead  Bloomberg

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    Refinance rates were mixed, but one key rate decreased. If you're in the market for a home loan, see how your payments might be affected.


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    Mortgage applications fall, as refinancing hits 20-year low  CNBC

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    Refinance mortgage rates mixed for Monday  Bankrate.com

    Refinance rates were mixed today. If you're shopping for a mortgage, see how your payments might be affected.


    Refinance mortgage rate falls for Friday  Bankrate.com

    Refinance rates were mixed, but one key rate declined. If you're shopping for a mortgage, see how your payments might be affected.


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    Refinance rates retreat for Monday  Bankrate.com

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    Refinance mortgage rate rises for Thursday  Bankrate.com

    Refinance rates were mixed, but one key rate climbed higher. If you're shopping for a mortgage, see what that means for you.


    Refinance rates fall for Wednesday  Bankrate.com

    Multiple key refinance rates ticked downward today. If you haven't locked a refi yet, see how that could affect you.


    Refinance rates advance for Saturday  Bankrate.com

    Multiple closely watched refinance rates notched higher today. If you're shopping for a refi, see how your finances could be affected.


    Refinance rates tick higher for Monday  Bankrate.com

    Multiple closely watched refinance rates moved higher today. If you're in the market for a home loan, see how your payments might be affected.


    Refinance rates tick lower for Thursday  Bankrate.com

    Several closely watched refinance rates dropped today. See what that means for you if you're in the market for a mortgage.


    Refinance mortgage rate ratchets higher for Thursday  Bankrate.com

    Refinance rates were mixed, but one key rate climbed. If you're shopping for a mortgage, see how your payments might be affected.


    Refinance mortgage rates mixed for Friday  Bankrate.com

    Refinance rates were mixed today. If you haven't locked a refinance yet, see what that means for you.


    Refinance rates hold steady for Friday  Bankrate.com

    Several benchmark refinance rates held steady today. See what that means for you if you're in the market for a mortgage.


    Refinance rates tick higher for Tuesday  Bankrate.com

    Multiple benchmark refinance rates notched higher today. See what that means for your chances of scoring a killer refi rate.


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    Many homeowners refinance for lower payments or interest rates. Here's what you need to know about your options and some pitfalls.


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