The vast majority of those purchasing a residence, at least to a certain degree, use some sort of financing vehicle, or mortgage. These can fall into two basic categories, either a conforming, or non – conforming type. For the most part, this refers to the amount being financed, and may differ somewhat from time to time, and from geographic area, to other location. Once you decide to take out a mortgage, and become qualified by the lender, you must determine, which of the 3 basic types of mortgages to opt for: 1) fixed; 2) adjustable; or 3) balloon.
1. Fixed mortgage: Also known as fixed – term, the most popular length of these is 360 monthly payment, or 30 years. However, they are also available in a variety of other lengths, including: 15 years; 20 years; 25 years; and 40 years, as well as other terms. Obviously the advantage of this type of financing, is you are certain of the principal and interest components, every month, for the length of the loan, That is often comforting, because it provides a degree of peace of mind. However, remember your real estate taxes, and your other escrow items (such as insurance), as well as your utilities, etc, will generally vary, and often increase over time. To qualify for these, in addition to having the necessary credit score, etc, one must have the correct income to monthly payments ratio, etc. Since, at certain times, especially when interest rates are higher than today, this ratio becomes a challenge to many potential homebuyers, etc.
2. Adjustable – rate: When interest rates are higher, these generally come with a lower introductory rate, which means lower payments. The loans are also known as ARM, and that rate is guaranteed for a specific period of time, and then changes. The new rate is generally based on some sort of index, such as COLA, or Treasury Bill rates, etc. For example, if you had a 30 year/ 5 year type, it would mean the rate was guaranteed for 5 years, and then the index would dictate the new rate, after that. There may or may not be a cap, which would mean, a limit on how much it could either increase or decrease. Obviously, the advantage of this, is the considerably lower – rate, at times, for the initial period, as well as locking – in financing for a longer – period (although at a different rate). This might enable someone with lower – income to qualify for a larger mortgage, because the ratio between his monthly income and mortgage payment, might be more favorable, to the borrower. The disadvantage is, that at the end of the initial term, there is a risk of either a rate increase, or a need to attempt to refinance.
3. Balloon: These types of mortgages are offered the least often. They possess either interest – only payments for a specified period, or significantly lower payments for that introductory period. At the end of the period, the borrower must either, pay off the entire loan, or refinance. It is fairly obvious, what both the positive and negative possibilities are!
The more a potential buyer knows, the better off he is. Hopefully, this brief discussion, might add to a buyer’s comfort, security, and ability to make the best decision, for him.