With approximately 60 percent of outstanding adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) loans set to the London Inter Bank Offered Rate (LIBOR), nearly 25 percent linked to average yields on certain Treasury securities, and 15 percent set to measures like the Cost of Funds Index (COFI), more homeowners are reacquainting themselves with the type of ARM they have and considering refinancing options such as 30-year, fixed-rate loans.
KEEP THIS IN MIND
• It is important that homeowners who have adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) are aware of the index to which their mortgage is linked, as this determines the monthly payments. Payments of loans tied to the LIBOR, which is in the interest rate that banks charge each other to borrow money, could increase if the loan resets in November or December because of the recent increase in the index’s rate. Most ARMs are set to the one-month, three-month, or six-month LIBOR.
Homeowners who are concerned about possible payment increases should contact their local bank, credit union, or mortgage broker to rewrite their ARM into one with a fixed interest rate, if possible.
• Rates on adjustable-rate mortgages are determined by two factors –the loan’s index (LIBOR, COFI, Treasury) and the lender’s margin. A guideline to help determine the new rate when a loan resets is to add the lender’s margin to the new index. For example, if a homeowner’s ARM resets according to the six-month LIBOR index, which was 3.70 percent as of Oct. 22, and the lender’s margin is 2.5 percent, then the new rate would be 6.20 percent.
• Some mortgage brokers recommend that homeowners who have ARMs and are unaware of to which index their loan is set, should review their loan documents again to determine if they should consider refinancing into a new loan with a fixed rate or possibly one linked to a different index.
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