Some newer mortgages afford homebuyers some the best qualities of the fixed rate and adjustable rate mortgages. One new type of loan, often called a Two-Step, Super Seven, or Premier Mortgage, gives homeowners the predictability of a fixed rate and adjustable rate mortgage for a certain time, most often seven or 10 years, and then the interest rate is adjusted to fit market conditions at that time. The main advantage associated with this type of loan is that homebuyers often get a slightly lower than market rate to begin with. The main disadvantage is that they may see their interest rate go up by as much as six percentage points at the end of the seven-year period. The lender may also reserve the option to call the loan due with 30 days notice at that time, making this loan similar to a balloon mortgage in some cases.
Lenders offer this type of loan in part because research indicates that many homebuyers remain in the home for seven to 10 years before moving. For this type of homebuyer, the Two-Step or Super Seven loan present an excellent way of getting a fixed rate loan at a better than market price for a fixed period of time.
Another type of mortgage that is becoming popular is called a Lender Buydown, where the homebuyer gets an initially discounted rate and gradually increases to an agreed-upon fixed rate over a matter of three years. For example: When the market rate is 10 percent, the fixed rate for the mortgage is set at about 10.5 percent, but the homebuyer makes monthly payments based on a first year rate of 8.5 percent. The second year the rate goes up to 9.5 percent, and for the third year through the remaining life of the loan, the rate is calculated at 10.5 percent. A second type of lender buy-down, called a Compressed Buydown, works the same way, but with the interest rate changing every six months instead of on a yearly basis.
The Lender Buydown gives consumers the advantage of lower initial monthly payments for the first two years of the loan when extra money may be needed for furnishings and, secondly, the advantage of knowing that, although the interest rate does change during the first three years of the loan, the interest is fixed from the third year on.
Invertible mortgages offer today's homebuyer the option to change the loan's interest rate after some period of time or some specified movement in interest rates.
Convertible fixed rate mortgages are often referred to as the Reduction Option Loan (ROL) or, in some locations, the Reducing Interest Loan (RIL), or Mortgage (RIM). This new type of loan offers homeowners the option of getting a loan that , under the right conditions, can be adjusted to a lower interest rate with a payment of $100 or $200 or so and a small loan amount-based fee, sometimes as little as one-fourth of a percentage point. These conditions usually are a prescribed movement in rates-typically two percent below the initial- during a set time limit-between months 13 and 59, for example.
On a 30-year fixed rate mortgage with a reduction option, the homebuyer pays an extra one-fourth to three-eighths of a percentage point in the interest rate on the mortgage plus a quarter to three-eighths of 1 percent of the loan amount (points) at the time of closing. This allows the homeowners to adjust the interest rate on the loan without having to go through a refinancing, which could cost up to 5 percent or 6 percent of the loan amount, if the rates are right during the prescribed time limit.
On an $80,000 loan, this means that you could reduce the interest rate on your loan from, say, 10.5 percent to 8.5 percent, and take advantage of the low rates for the rest of the loan term for $150 instead of up to $4,800, if the rates dropped to that point during your "window of opportunity" - months 13 through 59. Some homeowners may find the ROL a good "insurance policy" against the high costs of refinancing. Others may want the flexibility that refinancing offers - namely the ability to draw on built-up equity- that is not available with ROLs. The decision is up to you.
Convertible Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs) are another new loan product on today's market. It works like any other ARM, but offers homeowners a distinct advantage - it allows them to turn their ARM into a fixed rate mortgage after a set period (usually during the second through fifth years of the loan).
A new product developed by the Federal National Mortgage Association which buys mortgages from lenders, allows the homeowner to convert an ARM to either a 15 or 30 year fixed rate mortgage for a fee of 1 percent of the original loan plus $250, as compared to the 3 percent to 6 percent costs of refinancing. Say, for instance, that you got your convertible ARM at an initial interest rate of 10.0 percent, and after a year or so, rates had dropped to 8.0 percent. For the smaller conversion fee, you could adjust your mortgage to either a 15 or 30 year fixed rate loan at a new rate that would be about one-half percent higher than the going market rate, or 8.5 percent. There are other variations on this loan available from lenders across the country. Homebuyers who want the low initial rate of an ARM, and the option and peace of mind of a fixed mortgage should rates drop, can now have it both ways.