Fixed-Rate vs. Adjustable-Rate Mortgages (ARMs)

Fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages are two of the most popular loan types for buying a home or refinancing your mortgage (including cash-out refinances ). Both options are available for conventional conforming loan amounts, jumbo (non-conforming) loan amounts, and FHA or VA programs.

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Fixed-rate mortgage
Adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM)
Features Features
  • Your interest rate and monthly principal and interest (P&I) payments remain the same for the life of your loan. 
  • Available in a variety of loan term options.
  • You may be eligible for a conventional fixed-rate mortgage with a lower down payment with the Dream. Plan. Home.SM mortgage.
  • Your interest rate and monthly principal and interest (P&I) payments remain the same for a defined initial period, then adjust periodically when that initial period is over. 
  • Loans available in a variety of longer terms. 
  • Includes an interest rate cap that sets a limit on how high or how low your interest rate can go at each rate adjustment.
Benefits Benefits
  • Predictable monthly P&I payments allow you to budget more easily. 
  • Protection from rising interest rates for the life of the loan, no matter how high interest rates go. 
  • May be a good choice if you plan to stay in your home for a long time.
  • Typically ARMs have a lower initial interest rate than the rate on a fixed-rate mortgage. 
  • The interest rate cap limits the maximum amount your P&I payment may increase or decrease at each interest rate adjustment and over the life of the loan.
Considerations Considerations
  • The total interest paid on a long-term loan is greater than the total interest on a short-term loan because you borrowed the funds for a longer time period.
  • On a shorter-term loan, the monthly P&I payment is typically higher than on a longer-term loan because you're paying off the loan in a shorter time period.
  •  Your monthly principal and interest payments may change every year after the initial fixed period is over.
  • You would be comfortable with a higher principal and interest payment if your interest rate increases.

Conventional conforming mortgage 

A mortgage that is not obtained under a government program (FHA or VA) and satisfies the underwriting guidelines and loan limits set by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

Principal and interest (P&I) 

The 2 main components of your monthly payment. The principal portion reduces your loan balance, while the interest is your cost for borrowing the principal. Your monthly payments may include taxes and insurance in addition to P&I.

Interest-rate cap

A limit on the amount your interest rate can increase or decrease. Periodic caps limit the increase or decrease from 1 adjustment period to the next. Lifetime caps limit the increase or decrease over the life of the loan.