Blog   Tagged ‘adjustable-rate mortgage’

Financial Words of the Week: Fixed Rate / ARM

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FWOTW
Previously, we defined interest  as the cost of borrowing money. You have a range of options when it comes to interest rates. Before you take out a new loan or credit card, be sure you understand those options.

When looking at mortgages, you will likely see fixed rate and adjustable rate mortgages. With a fixed rate mortgage, your lender sets the interest rate during the application process, and it does not change for the life of the loan. With an adjustable rate mortgage, your interest rate will change regularly, based on a published reference rate. The frequency of this change depends on your mortgage.

Loans other than mortgages can be either fixed rate or variable rate. The definition of a fixed rate loan is the same as a fixed rate mortgage, but variable rate loans differ from adjustable rate mortgages in how frequently the rate can change. If the reference rate changes frequently, the interest rate on a variable rate could change monthly. Many car loans have fixed rates, while most credit cards have variable rates.

If you are unsure what your interest rate is on an existing loan, you can look at the terms and disclosures on your monthly statement or your loan paperwork. If you are applying for a new loan or line of credit, the application disclosure should tell you how the interest rate is set.

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UMB Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: UMBF) is a financial services holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking, payment solutions, asset servicing and institutional investment management to customers. UMB operates banking and wealth management centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Arizona. It also has a loan production office in Texas. Subsidiaries of the holding company include mutual fund and alternative investment services groups, single-purpose companies that deal with brokerage services and insurance, and a registered investment advisor that manages the company's proprietary mutual funds and investment advisory accounts for institutional customers.



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2nd step to buying a home—choosing the right loan for you

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So you’re ready to buy a home, and have finished the first step of pre-approval. Did you know that nearly half* of home purchases are from your fellow first-timers? It can be a daunting process, so we’re continuing the step-by-step approach to help you navigate this important financial decision.

There are many home loan choices. Finding the right lender will be the key to obtaining the information you need to make the right decision. The pre-approval process should have uncovered many of the factors that determine which loan will work best for you and let you know what interest rate you might be paying. Remember, to get a good interest rate, you’ll need as high a credit score and down payment as possible. The right lender will be able to guide you and explain the differences in each of the loans you qualify for.

Here is a general discussion of some of the mortgage loans available, to help prep you for your first meeting with a potential lender. The main differences are the size of the down payment and whether the interest rates can change.

Types of mortgage loans:

Conventional vs.Non-Conventional– One of the first decisions you will discuss with your lender is whether you want a conventional or non-conventional loan, which often depends on the size of your down payment.

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Conventional - A conventional loan typically requires a minimum down payment of 5 percent.  If you put down 5 to 19 percent, private mortgage insurance (PMI) may be required. This insurance protects the lender if you do not repay your mortgage.  Typically, you’ll have to pay this insurance until 78-80 percent of your mortgage is left, and then you may be able to remove PMIfrom your payments.  To avoid that extra insurance from the beginning, you’ll typically have to put down 20 percent or more.

Most first-time buyers choose homes with a median value of $147,000*, but in case you’re wondering, the conventional loan limit in most areas is $417,000. These loans can be fixed or adjustable (more on that in a minute). Conventional loans also allow you to have the seller pay up to 3 percent of your home’s closing costs and prepaid taxes and insurance.

FHA (non-conventional) – FHA loans typically require lower down payments than conventional mortgages, but there are also drawbacks to them. For example, FHA loans require mortgage insurance up front and it is usually more than private mortgage insurance with a conventional loan. Here’s how this type of loan works: The Federal Housing Authority does not actually lend the money but insures 100 percent of what the lender funds. FHA loans tend to be the most flexible in their credit guidelines. They usually allow for lower credit scores, higher debt-to-income ratios and as little as 3.5 percent as a down payment. These loans allow for up to 6 percent seller-paid closing costs and prepaid taxes and insurance.

Veterans Affairs (VA) – The VA loan was designed to offer long-term financing to eligible American veterans or their surviving spouses (provided they do not remarry). The VA loan does not require a down payment and does not require monthly private mortgage insurance.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) – This loan is intended to help people purchase homes in rural areas. The property must be located within the USDA Rural Development Home Loan footprint. USDA loans offer 100 percent financing to qualified buyers and allow for all closing costs to be either paid for by the seller or financed into the loan.

Fixed vs. Adjustable Rate Mortgages – After choosing a conventional vs. non-conventional loan, it’s time for another decision: do you want a fixed or adjustable rate?

Fixed-Rate Mortgages – Fixed-rate loans are just that, loans that have interest rates that are locked-in for the term of the loan. This means that your rate will not change during the entire time that you have the loan. Keep in mind that even with a fixed interest rate your payment could vary based on changes in taxes or insurance. The repayment of the loan is also spread out, or amortized, over that same fixed period. You can choose from 10-, 15-, 20-, 25- and 30-year fixed rates. Generally, the shorter the term of the loan, the lower the rate, but also the higher the payment. For example, a 15-year loan will usually have a better interest rate than a 30-year loan, but you’ll have to pay more per month in order to get the mortgage paid off sooner. Therefore, choosing the fixed-rate period will be a large part of determining the amount of your monthly payment.

Adjustable Rate MortgagesThese loans typically allow you to have lower payments at the very beginning, but take on higher risk than fixed-rate loans. There is usually an initial time period (1 to 10 years) where the interest rate is fixed. However, the rate can change after the initial fixed period causing the monthly payment to go up. Be sure to talk to your lender about what type of loan is best for your situation. If any of these factors apply to you, your lender can explain in more detail how an adjustable rate mortgage would work for you. However, an adjustable rate may be a good option if:

  • you plan to sell in a few years,
  • you will pay off the loan early, within the next few years, or
  • interest rates are high right now and are anticipated to decrease in the coming years. (not the case today)

To avoid feeling overwhelmed, remember, your lender is there to walk you through everything. Instead, focus on what your needs are. Then, you can outline with your lender what you’re looking for so he or she can provide your best options.

Arrive at your first lender meeting with answers to the following questions:

  • How much will you have for a down payment?
  • What are your preferred neighborhoods?
  • Do you want to get your loan paid off as soon as possible even if it means higher payments, or do you need lower payments with more time to pay it off?

Choosing the right lender is just one part of your home-buying team. Adding an experienced realtor will save you time and money and will be discussed in step three of buying a home.

*statistic source: NAHB.org

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