Gimme Five! Comparing Today’s 5 Year ARM to a 30 Year Fixed


There is currently about a 0.75% difference in rate between the conforming 30 year fixed and 5/1 ARM and 0.625% in rate with conforming-jumbo loans.  Is that enough for you to opt for an adjustable rate mortgage?

Beyond the obvious question: "how long do you plan on retaining the mortgage or staying in your home?"   Here are some other stats to consider based on rates I quoted Friday morning using a purchase of $500,000 with a loan amount of $400,000.   The closing costs on both loans are identical.

30 year fixed at 5.75% (APR 5.902%) has a principal and interest payment of $2,334.

5/1 ARM at 5.000% (APR 6.759%) has a principal and interest payment of $2,147.  This is a monthly savings of $187.

The 5/1 ARM is fixed for 60 months and will then the rate is re-calculated.   The 5/1 used in this scenario is a 5/1 LIBOR with a margin of 2.25% and caps of 5/2/5.   For now, lets review your savings over the 60 month period.

The 5/1 ARM will save $11,220 over the 30 year in five years in payment alone. 

30 year fixed at 5 years has paid $28,951 towards principal and has an estimated balance of $371,049.   $111,106 has been paid towards interest (no benefit towards your prinicpal, however it may be a tax benefit).

5/1 ARM at 60 months has paid $32,663 towards principal and has an estimated remaining balance of $367,337.   $96,228 has been paid towards interest.

Over a five year period, the net (interest) savings of the 5/1 ARM over the 30 year fixed assuming you do not make any additional payments towards principal is $14,878.

So what happens if someone decides to select a 5/1 ARM and 60 months later, they’re keeping the home?  They can refinance or not based on what the current market and what their finacial plans are.  The monthly savings over 60 months is plenty to cover the typical cost of a refinance ($2000-$2500) assuming rates are not favorable enough to opt for a "no cost refi".

If you decide to retain the mortgage, you will add the margin of 2.25% to the current 1 Year LIBOR rate when your mortgage is adusting.  (As of today, the 1 Year LIBOR is around 3.067%).   Your mortgage is reamortized based on the remaining term (25 years at the first adjustment).   The caps with this particular ARM are 5/2/5 meaning that the highest your rate can adjust is to a steep 10% and the lowest your rate will be at the first adjustment is 2.25%.   That’s a huge range and whatever your rate will be depends entirely on LIBOR.   Some 5 year ARMS offer caps of 2/2/6 which would limit the first adjustment to 2%–the initial rate is typically slightly higher.   Do learn exactly what your cap, margin and index are before you accept any adjustable rate mortgage.

I suggest considering the following:

What is your risk tolerance?  Will having a mortgage with the potential to adjust in 5 years give you a rash or cause you to lose sleep at night? 

How long do you plan on staying in the home or retaining the mortgage?  If you have a tendancy to refinance when rates improve or if this is a home (such as a starter home) where you may not keep it for 5 years, you may want to consider the ARM. 

Picture your life and where you and your family may be five years from now.   Is your income stable or growing?  Do you have retirement in your sights?

How disiplined are you?  $187 per month could make an impact on paying off non-tax preferred debt, paying down principal or building your savings.  Pay yourself the $187 per month in an interest bearing account at 3% and you’ll have $12,000 more in 60 months in addition to the other savings.

Regardless of what program you select for your mortgage…the choice is yours and it is your responsibility to learn as much as you can about the program–ask questions! 

Do you have an existing mortgage you’re unsure of?  Has your loan originator left the mortgage industry?  I’m happy to help Washington State home owners with their mortgage needs–including reviewing your existing financing, such as ARMS.  My mortgage adoption program does not require any refinancing or new mortgage.

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