Will your ARM adjust this year? Don’t Worry…Be Happy

by Tom Tousignant

in Blog, Financial Safety, Mortgages

Pending ARM Adjustment March 2010

If your mortgage is set to adjust this year, the smart move may be to let it. Today’s conforming mortgages are adjusting lower than ever before — as low as 3 percent.  It may not be what you expected when you signed for your ARM several years ago.

The reason why ARMs are adjusting lower is because of how they’re made.

When conforming adjustable-rate mortgages adjust, they adjust according to a pre-determined formula. The formula is the sum of a constant and a variable.  The constant is usually 2.25 percent and the variable is a daily-changing interest rate called LIBOR.

The formula looks like this:

New Mortgage Rate = LIBOR + 2.250 percent

LIBOR is an acronym for London Interbank Offered Rate.  LIBOR is very similar to the Federal Reserve’s Federal Funds Rate.  Banks borrow and lend money from each other at the LIBOR or the Fed Funds Rate.

Normalcy is returning to banking and the timing couldn’t be better for Charlotte homeowners with ARMs. 15 months ago, a homeowner’s ARM may have adjusted to 6 1/2 percent.  Today, that same ARM falls to just above 3.

As a strategy play, it might make sense to let your ARM adjust. Or, because fixed rates are still near 5 percent, converting that ARM to a long-term fixed-rate product might make sense, too.  The decision is a balance between how low do you want your payment, and how long might you live in your home.

The longer you stay, the more it might make sense to switch to fixed-rate, even though ARM rates are so low.

If, however, you are in an Option Arm, and Interest Only ARM, or a Sub-Prime ARM, it won’t be so simple.  You want to carefully review the original mortgage paperwork to see what will happen with that loan when it adjusts. I can help with that.

If you’ve got a conforming, adjusting ARM, it makes sense to review why you chose that program 3,5, or 7 years ago – if htose reasons still amke sense, maybe you should keep it.  Of, it may be time to lock in a new rate for 5,7 or even 30 years.

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