Choosing A Home Mortgage Loan – One Size Does Not Fit All
When you decide you are ready to purchase a home, you are understandably excited. Home ownership is a valuable investment not only in real estate, but also in lifestyle. Along with the benefits that owning a home provides, there are there are also financial responsibilities. There are property taxes to pay, and homeowners insurance to purchase. And since most people, especially new homeowners, do not have the means to purchase a home outright, a mortgage is probably a necessity.
You have a variety of choices when shopping for a home mortgage; there are fixed and adjustable rate mortgages, and different lengths of mortgage loans. If you have poor credit, there are a number of mortgages options that will help you to purchase a home.
Length Of Mortgage – The most common mortgage length is thirty years, but ten and fifteen year loans are also available. The longer the duration of the mortgage, the lower your monthly payments will be, though you will pay out much more money over the length of the mortgage. With a ten or fifteen year mortgage you will be apply more money toward the principal early in the loan, and while your monthly payments will be higher, you will begin to amass equity in your home much more quickly.
Fixed Rate Mortgages – A fixed rate mortgage has the advantage of locking in a certain interest rate for the duration of the loan. This is especially helpful if you purchase a home when mortgage interest rates are low. Your rate will be locked in, and you will be protected against rising interest rates. On the flip side, if interest rates fall further, you will be stuck with that rate unless you refinance your mortgage.
Adjustable Rate Mortgages – Adjustable rate mortgages, commonly called ARM’s, usually offer lower initial interest rates than their fixed rate cousins. The danger of an adjustable rate mortgage is that if interest rates rise, your rate, and therefore your mortgage payment will increase. Fortunately, the rates on ARM’s are capped, having both a periodic rate cap limiting the amount your interest rate can increase at once, and a lifetime cap which limits the amount your rate can rise over the duration of the mortgage.
Many people obtained adjustable rate mortgages during the recent housing boom, betting that mortgage interest rates would fall further or at least hold steady. Many of them had sub prime credit and had no choice but to get an adjustable rate mortgage, and as the housing market slowed, interest rates rose, and mortgage payments grew. As a result, many already cash-strapped homeowners were driven to foreclosure.
Fixed-Period Adjustable Rate Mortgages – A safer alternative is an adjustable rate mortgage which has an initial period where the interest rate is fixed, anywhere from one to ten years. These mortgages are sometimes called hybrid ARM’s. This fixed rate period provides you a buffer against rising mortgage interest rates, and gives you time to build home equity and improve your credit. Hopefully you take advantage of this time and begin to shop for a low fixed rate mortgage.
Sub Prime Mortgages – Sub prime mortgages are designed to meet the needs of potential home buyers who have damaged credit. If you have a record of slow payments on credit accounts, or have a FICO score below 600, you may have to obtain a mortgage from a sub prime lender. Because of your less than perfect credit, you can expect to pay a higher interest rate than someone with immaculate credit. but by shopping around you should be able to find a competitive interest rate, as every lender has its own criteria to determine how much of a credit risk you would be.
Finally, be sure that regardless of the type of mortgage you choose, you will be able to afford the monthly payments. If you get an adjustable rate mortgage, plan ahead and decide what you will do if interest rates rise. Work at improving your credit score, and if you decide later to refinance your mortgage, you will have more and better options.