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Adjustable rate mortgages ARMs

Explore the mechanics of adjustable rate mortgages (ARM) in this video, including how they work and in what situation an ARM might be advantageous and when it might work against you.

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  • female robot amelia style avatar for user Chhayden79
    1 year treasury what does it relates to ARM? Thanks
    (13 votes)
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  • leafers sapling style avatar for user Arpan Das
    What options are present to a bank, in case almost every one of its borrowers are on some fixed mortgage plan and the interest rates have shot way up and have persisted in staying up? In such a scenario, the bank will be getting fixed payments from its borrowers but will be forced to pay out larger and larger money to its lenders. How does the bank keep from going bankrupt?

    Is there some practice within the bank to avoid such a scenario? Maybe ensure that a certain percentage of its mortgages are ARMs?
    (8 votes)
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  • starky ultimate style avatar for user Ruben D
    If you expect interest rates to be low in the first few years of your loan but high in the last few years, is it worth taking into account that your debt is higher during the first few years, or is that no factor in practice for choosing between ARM and a fixed rate?
    (4 votes)
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    • leafers sapling style avatar for user Arpan Das
      Considering the fact that home loans generally span 15 - 30 years, it's highly unlikely that anyone can predict what the interest rate will be during the last few years of the loan.

      Assuming that you somehow have information about the interest rate, extending out 30 years into the future, then yes, it will be quite possible to run a study looking at whether ARMs will be a better investment than fixed mortgages.
      (14 votes)
  • starky ultimate style avatar for user Sudhanshu Sisodiya
    How is the interest rate that gov't pays on treasuries determined? I know how yield and market price is (vaguely though).
    (4 votes)
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  • mr pants teal style avatar for user Wrath Of Academy
    At he starts addressing "Interest Rate Risk" but, isn't he really only looking at who takes on the risk of rates going UP? Who takes on the risk of rates dropping for each type of mortgage?
    (2 votes)
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    • piceratops seed style avatar for user masrtis
      A fixed rate borrower will take on the interest rate risk for a decrease in rates.

      For ARMs, the risk that the short term rate drops in the long term is taken by the lender because they will have to reduce the rate during the next adjustment. This is offset the lender being owed more interest than they otherwise would have gotten for the case that interest steadily drops starting the day after the adjustment period, so it is not as much risk as it is for the borrower in the fixed rate case.
      (8 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user Hidalgotj2000
    Once you sing a mortgage either fix or arms. can you pay the monthly payment and pay some more money to cover some more of the principal ?
    (3 votes)
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  • leaf red style avatar for user Aadit Bhagoliwal
    But is it possible to have negative interest rates. If yes, then why does it happen?
    (3 votes)
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    • purple pi purple style avatar for user Peter
      think of a negative interest rate as like renting a safety deposit box.
      You are paying the bank to keep your money safe.
      If you don't like it, you could always spend the money, and improve the economy, which is often the point of negative interest rates.
      (3 votes)
  • leafers seedling style avatar for user adam.hulse
    Side question from the end of your video. Depositors interest going up? I have never heard it doing that. Doesn't the bank just control that? It seems very unlikely that it could ever significantly affect the difference (by keeping it low) of when the loan interest fluctuates.
    (3 votes)
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    • starky ultimate style avatar for user Micheal  Arnold
      Banks need money to lend.
      One way of doing this is by paying interest to savers (depositers).
      What the bank is looking to do is get money from me and lend it to my neighbour for a slightly higher rate.
      So if the bank offers me 2% interest on my savings account, and can lend the same money to my neighbour for 4%, as long as my neighbour makes the payments, the bank wins.
      What if my neighbour wants to borrow more money? Twice as much, say?
      well, if the bank offers me 2.5% interest, I might save more, If the bank still lends it to my neighbour at 4%, they have actually made even more money, because although the difference in interest rates is smaller, the bank is now lending twice as much, and in the case I used would expect to make 50% more profit on the money it borrowed from me and lent to my neighbour.
      (3 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user kathysvaughan
    Give me an example of an ARM rate going down
    (3 votes)
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    • primosaur ultimate style avatar for user Aristotle
      Consider this: The 2 year treasury yield, and/or 10 year treasury yield was at 4% when you first accepted the ARM. 5 years later, the 2 treasury yield is at 2%. (5/1 ARM = 5 years fixed(payments stay the same), every year "adjustable" rate(payments fluctuate based on period for ARM) when it starts to adjust every year).

      For example, when it starts adjusting every year 1% is added to the treasury yield. So instead of paying a 5%(4+1) interest rate, you are now paying 3%(2%treasury yield+1%bank interest rate) based on the treasury yield during the current adjustment period (2%). This would be a situation when the ARM % rate went down.

      ARM's have many different indexes they are tied to, COFI, LIBOR, SOFR, etc. so this interest rate adjustment for the year-to-year depends on what index your ARM is associated with.

      ARMs are one of the most difficult mortgage concepts to understand, but just know they have a fixed rate for a certain number of years then start adjusting every 6 months/year usually. How much they adjust is determined by the index the ARM was tied to(COFI, LIBOR, SOFR, etc).

      They have rate caps too, which say it can only adjust this much increase/decrease when it starts to adjust. Rate caps are periodic(year-to-year) lifetime(total over life of loan) and sometimes payment caps(your mortgage can't go above a certain dollar amount).

      Now you're probably wondering when an ARM might be better than a 30/15 year fixed rate mortgage. It varies from individual to individual and each loan is specific to individual financial situations and needs/wants/goals. There is no one loan is best for all, you have to explain this to a mortgage loan originator and they are supposed to give you three different options to choose and explain why they think its best for you.

      This is the main line of thinking: If you predict the rates will go down in 5 years, fixed rate mortgage interest rates, then you can take an ARM to have a lower interest rate for the first 5 years then what is currently being offered at fixed rates. Then, if you qualify, you can refinance into a lower fixed rate mortgage after the initial fixed period is up and the documents you signed allow for refinance without any penalty(make sure to check for this) Another alternative is to stay with the ARM because interest rates are so low, but this can be risky and usually if you find yourself in a situation where fixed rates are at the same level or lower than your ARM, then refinance into a fixed rate mortgage. Again, this depends on your situation so double check to make sure there are no better alternatives than a fixed rate mortgage when refinancing at how much equity you have in the home (are you close to paying it off? you may not have to refi as there is a cost in doing so, usually 5-10k)

      Now you can use other variables, such as prediction of the treasury yield, to consider into your calculations as well to choose the best loan option for your situation and economic conditions.

      It's important to understand if you can lower your interest rate during the beginning phases of your mortgage, this is the best time to save money as the principal and interest are the largest during the beginning periods of the mortgage.

      Remember: Consult the advice of an experienced and well-educated mortgage loan originator to help you work through the numbers and situations so you choose the optimal solution for your future. It's very important you take this process very seriously as it can help/hurt your financial future. Think very far into the future and account for any risks that may happen (divorce, loss of job, etc) so you are fully prepared for any and every situation and can adjust accordingly.
      (1 vote)
  • leafers tree style avatar for user James
    As a small update, LIBOR is being phased out by most major banks because it was too easily manipulated.
    (3 votes)
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Video transcript

- [Voiceover] What I want to do in this video is explore the mechanics of a typical adjustable rate mortgage, often known as an ARM, and then think about and wonder what situations could this be advantageous and in which situations might not this be the best scenario for the home buyer. So let's just first think about the mechanics, and to do that I will draw a little bit of a timeline. Let's say on the vertical axis this is going to be your interest rate, this is in percentage terms. That's one percent, two percent, three percent, four, five, six and it can higher than that even. Let's say this is the time axis. This right over here is the time axis in years. That is one year, two years, three years, four years, five years and maybe we'll go six years out. Before I even plot the adjustable rate mortgage, let's think about a fixed rate mortgage. If I had a fixed rate mortgage, it is exactly what the word implies. The rate is going to be fixed. On a fixed rate mortgage, where the fixed rate mortgages are at the time you get the loan, based on the type of loan you're getting and your credit score, let's say you get a four percent fixed rate. So that means over the life of your loan, your loan is going to be at a four percent. Whatever you have to pay on your principle, whatever principle you have left over every period you will pay an equivalent of a four percent annual rate. And we've gone into some depth on that in other videos, where we talk about 30 year and 15 year and 10 year fixed mortgages. And you might be saying "Wait, I thought "as time goes on I pay down more and more principle, "which means that each of my payments, "less and less of it goes to interest. "So it doesn't feel like my interest is changing." And there's truth to that, the dollar amount that you're paying towards interest with a traditional fixed rate mortgage does go down every month as you pay down more and more principle. But the interest rate, the rate that you're paying on the principle that you have remaining, is going to be constant. In this example, it would be a constant four percent. Now what about an adjustable rate mortgage? As you can imagine, that means that the mortgage is going to adjust. So an adjustable rate mortgage might start at two percent, and that might look really good, but the way that the deal will work is, if short term interest rates were to increase, the adjustable rate mortgage will increase as well. So there could be a reality where if short term interest rates increase enough, the adjustable rate mortgage interest rate, or rate, might be even higher than the fixed rate mortgage. And if interest rates were to go dramatically higher, that depends on if there are caps in place and whatever else, this rate could grow dramatically higher. What do I mean by all of that? And what do I mean by "What if short term interest rates were to go up?" When you have an adjustable rate mortgage, it usually adjusts to some index rate. In the US the most typical one is short term Treasuries. That's the rate that the government has to pay when the government wants to borrow money for a year. So one year Treasuries, although there could be other underlying indexes. Another very typical index for any type of adjustable rate loan, not just mortgages, but any type of loan, even corporate loans, could be the London Interbank Offered Rate, LIBOR. London Interbank Offered Rate, and we have other videos on what LIBOR is. Let's just say that we're dealing with one year Treasuries as the underlying index. One year Treasuries, there's a market for Treasuries, so that just changes with the day. Let's say this is the plot of what happens for one year Treasuries over time. So this is the rate, so this means that right at this period of time, if you were to lend the government money for a year, you're going to get two percent. The government's borrowing rate is two percent. Now, it's very unlikely that any lender will give you the exact same rate as the government. The government can print money, you have the full faith and credit of the United States. So you don't have that when you're paying, you might get into financial difficulty, you might not be able to pay your loan for some reason. So you're not going to get that exact rate, you're gonna get that rate plus some premium. Let's say you have pretty good credit, so let's say the premium is only one percent. A premium like one percent, that's actually what even very, very well established companies would get. This is just to make the math easy. You see that right over here, the time that the loan was issued, the one year treasury was like one percent, and so you're gonna get a two percent. The way that an ARM works is, at some period, sometimes it'll be every six months, sometimes every year, your rate will be reset. So let's say we're dealing with an adjustable rate mortgage and it resets every year. So yearly adjustment in the case that we're looking at. So that means you're gonna pay your two percent for the first year, from time zero to one year going by. And then at that point, they're going to look at what the underlying index is, and it's like "Okay, the index now looks like it's "at about one point six percent." So you're gonna pay a one percent premium over that, so you're gonna pay two point six percent. So you're gonna pay two point six percent for the next year. Now short term interest rates have gone up even more. Looks like they're pretty close to three, so now you're gonna pay four percent interest. So in this scenario where interest rates have steadily gone up, your mortgage rate is adjusting every year up. You see by at least this third year, you are paying roughly the same as if you had gotten a fixed rate mortgage. Now you might be saying "Hey, but it's still been a good deal. "I've paid for the first two years lower "than I would have paid on a fixed rate mortgage. "And then only in the third year I'm paying the same." And that's true, for this scenario, that so far has worked out pretty well for you. But then in year three, interest rates are even higher, so it would adjust even higher. So your adjustable rate might be up here. In this year you're actually paying more, your interest rate, the rate of interest on the principle that you owe on your house, is now more than your fixed rate mortgage. Then I draw a scenario where all the sudden it becomes more favorable again, so it might adjust down. So here you're still paying more than you would pay in your fixed rate, but then by this year, you're now paying less again. This is just one of many scenarios. In this one you're like "Okay, you know adjustable rate mortgage, "maybe this might have worked out more years than not. "I'm paying less than I would have paid "with the fixed rate mortgage." Lower rate I should say, there's only a couple of years here. But you have to remember, this is just one of many possible scenarios. Maybe inflation goes crazy, or whatever else, and maybe this index does something like this. Which isn't typical, it's not likely to happen, but things like that have happened in history, when you had large inflationary periods. In something like this, all of a sudden you can see your adjustable rate mortgage adjusting up by a good bit. There's often these things called caps in place that keep the mortgage from adjusting more than a percent or two percent per year. But if you saw something like that, or if you saw something that just went straight like this, that means that over the life of your loan, especially if your loan goes out 10 or 15 or 30 years, you could end up paying a substantial amount more interest. On the other hand, it's completely possible that interest rates do this the entire time. In which case, the adjustable rate mortgage might work out better. So you might be noticing a pattern here. With your fixed rate mortgage, it's very predictable. You can predict this, so the payment that you're making from one month to the next, even if it's interest only, whatever payment you're making, whatever interest rate, it is not going to change. While the adjustable rate mortgage it is less predictable. This brings up a very interesting idea, called interest rate risk, which you might sometimes hear people talk about on the cable finance networks and whatever else. Or if you're reading the financial section of the newspaper, interest rate risk. This is just the risk that you take on if interest rates were to change dramatically. If you have an adjustable rate mortgage, what's your risk? The interest rate risk you're taking on is "What if interest goes up a lot?" Then your payment goes up. With a fixed rate mortgage, who takes on the interest rate risk? With a fixed rate mortgage, the bank takes on the interest rate risk. Let me write this down, this is an ARM, and this right over here is the fixed. Who takes on the interest rate risk in the ARM scenario? The borrower does. They might get the benefit of lower rates, but if rates were to go up dramatically, the borrower takes on this risk. While in the fixed rate, who takes on the risk? In this scenario it's going to be the lender. Why is the lender taking on a risk? If they lend something to you at a fixed interest rate, let's say this four percent, and if interest were to go up dramatically, remember many lenders, especially financial institutions like banks, they are borrowing money as well. Who are they borrowing money from? They could be borrowing from a whole bunch of sources. One of them is the people who are keeping deposits. Remember what a bank does. If this is the bank right over here, people give deposits, and we go into much more detail in other videos, and then it is loaned out. When they take deposits, they are often times promising people interest and when they issue loans they're getting interest as well. This is fixed, right over here, but if short term interest rates were to go up, then they're going to be paying more than they're getting. Or this is not changing, while this is going up, so they're not going to be making as much money. So the risk, adjustable rate mortgage, borrower takes on, the fixed rate, the lender takes on.