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Understanding mortgage interest rates
Mortgages also come with different interest rate structures. The three most common structure are (1) fixed rate, (2) variable rate, and (3) adjustable rate. Here’s a brief explanation:
- Fixed rate mortgage: With a fixed rate mortgage, the interest rate remains the same for the entire mortgage term (usually between 3 to 5 years). Your monthly payments will also remain the same, making it easier to budget and plan for the future. Fixed rate mortgages are popular with homeowners who prefer the stability and predictability of a consistent payment amount. The term of a fixed rate mortgage can range from as little as six months to as long as ten years or more. However, fixed rate mortgages usually have an interest rate higher than a similar variable interest rate mortgage. In addition, there are higher penalties for breaking a fixed rate mortgage earlier than the agreed upon term.
- Variable rate mortgage: A variable rate mortgage is a type where the interest rate can change over time based on changes to the lender’s prime rate or other benchmark rate. However, monthly payments will remain the same unless interest rates increase so much they surpass your trigger rate. If they do, then your monthly payments will likely increase. Otherwise, you will pay more interest and less equity using the same monthly payments as interest rates rise. Variable rate mortgages are great when you believe that the prime rate will decrease during the term of your mortgage or if you think there is a chance that you will break (or end your mortgage) earlier than the agreed upon term, as the penalties for breaking are lower.
- Adjustable rate mortgage: An adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) is similar to a variable rate mortgage, but monthly payments are not constant. If the lender’s prime rate increases, then your monthly payment will increase, and if the lender’s prime rate decreases, then your monthly payment will decrease. This means that your monthly payments can fluctuate over the life of the mortgage. Adjustable rate mortgages are typically lower than fixed rate mortgages, but they can be riskier because your payments could increase in the future. Like variable rate mortgages, adjustable rate mortgages have lower penalties for breaking the mortgage earlier than the agreed upon term.
It’s important to note that the interest rate you are offered will depend on several factors, including your credit score, the size of your down payment, the type of property you’re purchasing, and the lender you choose. It’s always a good idea to shop around and compare mortgage offers from different lenders to find the best rate and terms for your individual situation.