The Risks of an Adjustable Rate Mortgage
When Buying a Kansas City Real Estate
If you’re at all considering an ARM when purchasing a house in Kansas City, you absolutely, positively must understand what rising interest rates (and, therefore, a rising monthly mortgage payment) could do to your personal finances. Look no further than the cause behind many of the foreclosures since 2008 when buyers with ARM’s had their mortgages adjusted upward to the point they could no longer afford their homes.
Only consider an ARM if you can answer all of the following in the affirmative:
- Is your monthly budget such that you can afford higher mortgage payments and still accomplish other financial goals that are important to you, such as saving for retirement?
- Do you have an emergency reserve (equal to at least six-months’ living expenses) that you can tap into in order to make the potentially higher monthly mortgage payments?
- Can you afford the highest payment allowed on the adjustable-rate mortgage? (The mortgage lender can tell you the highest possible monthly payment, which is the payment you would owe if the interest rate on your ARM went to the lifetime interest rate cap allowed on the loan.)
- If you are stretching to borrow near the maximum the lender allows or an amount that will test the limits of your budget, are your job and income stable?
If you expect to be having children in the future, consider now the fact that your household expenses will rise and your income may fall with the arrival of those little bundles of joy.
- Can you handle the psychological stress of changing interest rates and mortgage payments?
If you are fiscally positioned to take on the financial risks inherent with an adjustable-rate mortgage, by all means consider taking one — we’re not trying to talk you into a fixed-rate loan. The odds are with you to save money, in the form of lower interest charges and payments, with an ARM. Your interest rate starts lower (and stays lower, if the overall level of interest rates don’t change). Even if rates do go up, as they are sometimes prone to do, they will surely come back down. So, if you can stick with your ARM through times of high and low interest rates, you should still come out ahead.
ARMs Do Carry Risk
Although ARMs do carry the risk of a fluctuating interest rate, almost all adjustable-rate loans limit, or cap, the rise in the interest rate allowed on your loan. We certainly wouldn’t recommend you take an ARM without caps. Typical caps are 2 percent per year and 5-6 percent over the life of the loan.
Consider an adjustable-rate mortgage only if you’re financially and emotionally secure enough to handle the maximum possible payments over an extended period of time. ARMs work best for borrowers who take out smaller loans than they are qualified for or who are consistently saving more than 10 percent of their monthly income. If you do choose an ARM, make sure you have a significant cash cushion that is accessible in the event rates go up. Don’t take an adjustable just because the initially lower interest rate allows you to afford a more expensive home. Better to buy a Kansas City home you can afford with a fixed-rate mortgage .
Ask T. J. Lamb, T.J. Lamb Real Estate, about
taking out a mortgage on a Kansas City house.
This Home Buying Tip was excerpted from
Home Buying For Dummies (3rd Edition), by Eric Tyson, Ray Brown. © 2006 by Eric Tyson, Ray Brown, used by permission of Wiley Publishing.