An adjustable-rate mortgage differs from a fixed-rate mortgage in many ways.
Most importantly, with a fixed-rate mortgage, the interest rate stays the same
during the life of the loan. With an ARM, the interest rate changes periodically,usually in relation to an index, and payments may go up or down accordingly. Adjustable-Rate Money Street Mortgage
To compare two ARMs, or to compare an ARM with a fi xed-rate mortgage, you need to know about indexes, margins, discounts, caps on rates and payments, negative amortization, payment options, and recasting (recalculating) your loan. You need to consider the maximum amount your monthly payment could increase. Most importantly, you need to know what might happen to your monthly mortgage payment in relation to your future ability to aff ord higher payments.
Lenders generally charge lower initial interest rates for ARMs than for fi xed-rate mortgages. At fi rst, this makes the ARM easier on your pocketbook than would be a fixed-rate mortgage for the same loan amount. Moreover, your ARM could be less expensive over a long period than a fi xed-rate mortgage—for example, if interest rates remain steady or move lower.
Against these advantages, you have to weigh the risk that an increase in interest rates
would lead to higher monthly payments in the future. It’s a trade-off —you get a lower
initial rate with an ARM in exchange for assuming more risk over the long run. Here are
some questions you need to consider:
Is my income enough—or likely to rise enough—to cover higher mortgage payments if
interest rates go up?
Will I be taking on other sizable debts, such as a loan for a car or school tuition, in the near future?
How long do I plan to own this home? (If you plan to sell soon, rising interest rates may not pose
the problem they do if you plan to own the house for a long time.)
Do I plan to make any additional payments or pay the loan off early?