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Whether you're a first time homebuyer or looking to refinance your existing home, there are many factors that determine what mortgage is the best one for you. Your FICO® Score has a very big influence on the interest rate that you qualify for, and the resulting monthly payments. Other factors that affect your monthly payments are the type of loan and how much your down payment will be.

Choose the mortgage with the terms that meets your needs, and that you can afford.

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Buying a Home

Buying a Home

Maximum affordability with consistent monthly payments

If you prefer the financial security and stability of knowing that your mortgage payment will be the same amount each month, a fixed-rate mortgage is for you. For a first-time home owner or someone trading up from a previously sold home, when lower payments are as important as the predictability of a fixed monthly payment, the 30 year fixed mortgage will have the lowest payments of any of the fixed rate mortgages.

With the 30-year fixed mortgage, your interest and mortgage payments remain the same for loan’s duration of 30 years. While fixed-rate mortgages are often more expense than their adjustable-rate counterparts, if you plan to live in your home for 10 or more years, this may be the best long-term option for you.

Build equity as fast as possible with consistent monthly payments

A fixed rate mortgage for 15 years (or 10 or 20 years) will enable you to build equity faster than with a 30-year loan, but the high monthly payments may restrict the overall price of the home that you can afford. As with the 30-year fixed loan, you have the financial security and stability of knowing that your monthly payment will be the same amount each month.

The 15-year fixed mortgage is good for those who want to retire in less than 30 years without still owing mortgage payments, or that want to refinance a 30 year loan that they have been paying for many years and don’t want to reset the term of their mortgage payments back to 30 years.

Afford as much home as possible in the short-term

An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) is appealing when the homeowner expects to sell their home in less than 10 years or who plan to refinance in a few years when they can qualify for a better rate, possibly on a fixed-rate mortgage.

An ARM has an interest rate that adjusts at a specified time and frequency. There are many different ARM products, but generally they offer a lower initial rate than a 30-year fixed and that rate adjusts with market trends. Therefore, when your initial rate period ends and your ARM is ready to adjust you may be paying more (with higher current market trends) or less (with lower current market trends) than your initial rate.

Generally, ARMs follow this pattern: the shorter the initial term, the lower the initial rate. ARMs are identified by two numbers – the first indicates the initial rate term and the second is the adjustment frequency. For example, a 3/1 ARM means the same initial rate for 3 years and an adjustment to the interest rate made once every year after that.

Refinancing a Home

Refinancing a Home

Refinancing a mortgage can result in lower monthly payments, paying off your loan in fewer years, or getting out of an adjustable rate mortgage and into a predictable fixed rate mortgage. The types of loans available for refinancing are mostly the same as those for initial purchase. However, some of the qualifications and interest rates for a refinance may vary in comparison to a initial purchase.

If your FICO Score is not high enough to qualify for a significantly better interest rate than you have on your current mortgage, it may not be the right time to refinance. Consider by how much you could improve your FICO Score if you waited, and how much lower your interest rate would be as a result. Of course, the current market conditions at a later date may raise the lowest interest rates available then to a level higher than you would qualify for now.

Get Prepared for a Home Refinance Loan?

Get Prepared for a Home Refinance Loan?

Know what you are getting into before beginning the refinance process. There are a few simple things you should do to be sure you’re completely prepared. Read more »

The Guide: Deciding to Refinance

The Guide: Deciding to Refinance

Have you been thinking about refinancing your home? Read this guide to better prepare yourself to minimize surprises. Read more »

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