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Adjustable Rate Mortgages - The Basics

An adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) has an interest rate that fluctuates periodically. This is in contrast to a fixed rate mortgage, which always has the same interest rate.

Every ARM has basic components:

  1. An index
  2. A margin
  3. Adjustment Period
  4. An interest rate cap
  5. An initial interest rate

The Index

An ARM’s interest rate is tied to one of many economic indices, some examples of which are the 1-year constant maturity Treasury security, the Cost of Funds Index, or the London Interbank Offered Rate. Different indices move at different rates so know the characteristics of the index used for your ARM.

The Margin

The interest rate for your ARM will be calculated by adding a margin to the interest rate from the index. The margin is basically the markup charged by the lender that allows them to make a profit off of your loan, such as adding 2% to the index, where the 2% is the margin. The margin of your loan usually does not fluctuate.

The Adjustment Period

The Adjustment Period controls when and how often your interest rate changes. For example, if your ARM has an adjustment period of 1 year, your interest rate will be subject to change at the end of each year and your monthly mortgage payment will be recalculated to reflect this change.

The Interest Rate Cap

Interest rate caps are built into the loan to protect the borrower from drastic interest rate fluctuations. The caps limit how much the interest rate or monthly payment can change at the end of each adjustment period. An ARM can also have a cap for the life of the loan. For example, during the life of a loan, the interest rate can only be increased by 5%.

The Initial Interest Rate

The Initial Interest Rate is the interest rate that you start with at the beginning of your loan period. The length of time your loan stays at this rate is built into the loan. For example, you may stay at the initial interest rate for 1 year, 5 years, or another length of time depending on your specific mortgage. This type of ARM is generally referred to as a Hybrid ARM. The initial interest rate for an adjustable rate mortgage is generally lower than that of a fixed rate mortgage.

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2/29/2016 In 15+ years of Hawaii Mortgage Company dealing with thousands of realtors, it is very rare when you come upon agents who really care and love what they do and want to make the transaction as wonderful as possible for all parties involved. Lance and Kimi go above and beyond for their clients and the mortgage professionals (like us!) who they are working with. In a world full of mortgage regulations, Lance and Kimi make sure to keep everyone on track of the timelines to ensure closing on time, which benefits both the sellers and buyers. We are lucky to work with them and look forward to many more transactions together in the future! Maura K. Shannon Manager / Mortgage Loan Originator NMLS #339190 Hawaii Mortgage Company NMLS #232582 443 Portlock Road Honolulu, Hawaii 96825 Tel: 808-988-6622 Fax: 808-988-7722 Maura K. Shannon
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Lance gives 100% always...we were lucky and grateful to be able to work with him several times! We liked the fact that he is honest, trustworthy, & always looking out for the best interests of his clients. At times the buying or selling process of a home can be a headache. Lance always has a demeanor that seems to make any situation positive. He exceeded our expectations and along the way gained our friendship. We would recommend Lance to our family and friends any day!!! Thanks ---Lance!!! :) C&D L H.O.V.E. HI
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