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Fixed-Rate Mortgages

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Predictable monthly payments

A fixed-rate mortgage offers a straightforward, predictable monthly payment. With fixed-rate mortgages, your interest rate—and your total monthly payment of Glossary Term: principal and Glossary Term: interest—will stay the same for the entire Glossary Term: term of the loan. That predictability makes it easier to set your budget.

Advantages of a fixed-rate mortgage

Fixed-rate mortgages are a good choice if you:

  • Think interest rates could rise in the next few years and want to keep the current rate
  • Plan to stay in your home for many years
  • Prefer the stability of a fixed principal/interest payment to a payment that changes periodically (which is what happens with an adjustable-rate mortgage)

How term affects interest and equity

In general, the longer the term of the fixed-rate mortgage is the more interest you will pay over the life of the loan and the higher your interest rate will be, but your monthly payments will tend to be lower. The shorter the repayment term is, the lower the interest rate will be and the faster you’ll pay off and build Glossary Term: equity in your home, though your monthly payments will generally be higher.

Fixed-rate mortgage loans are available in a variety of repayment terms, with 30-, 20- and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages being the most popular.

30-year fixed-rate mortgage

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is one of the most popular mortgages. Many people like the fixed interest rate and lower monthly payments. But since the term of the loan is long, you’ll pay more interest over the life of the loan than you would on a shorter-term mortgage, and you’ll build equity more slowly.

20-year fixed-rate mortgage

A 20-year fixed-rate mortgage helps you pay off your home faster and build equity more quickly than longer-term fixed-rate mortgages. A 20-year fixed-rate mortgage generally has a lower interest rate than longer-term home loans but higher monthly payments.

15-year fixed-rate mortgage

You generally pay a lower interest rate with a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage than you would for longer-term fixed-rate mortgage loans. You will pay less interest than you would with a longer-term loan and build equity more quickly. However, your monthly payments will be higher for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage than they would be on a longer-term mortgage.

Fixed-rate interest-only loans

Note: Bank of America offers the interest-only payment option on jumbo loans only.

Fixed-rate interest-only loans have a 30-year term and an initial time frame, usually 10 years, during which you can choose to make interest-only payments or both principal and interest payments. This means the initial payments are comparatively low, allowing you to use the balance of your cash flow for other immediate needs. At the end of the interest-only period, you will be required to pay both interest and principal so the outstanding balance will be paid in full over the remaining 20-year term of the loan.

While you’re paying only interest, your payments are not building potential home equity. By the end of the interest-only period you will still owe the original amount you borrowed, which may make it more difficult to refinance your mortgage or to make money from selling your home. If you paid only interest during the initial time frame, once the initial time frame expires your payments will be significantly higher and can result in “payment shock.” Be sure you fully understand the risks involved before committing to an interest-only loan and making interest-only monthly payments. Since this loan begins with an interest-only period, you will pay more interest over the life of the loan compared with a traditional 30-year mortgage.

Interest-only loans tend to appeal to people whose income fluctuates (those who are self-employed, on commission or on a bonus schedule) or who expect to own their home for a short period of time.

Jumbo loans

If your mortgage will be for an amount higher than Glossary Term: conforming thresholds, a jumbo mortgage may be an option. Jumbo loans are available for primary residences, second or vacation homes and investment properties, and are also available in a variety of terms. Jumbo home loans typically have a higher interest rate than smaller home loans due to different Glossary Term: underwriting and home equity requirements.

Combination loans

A combination loan pairs a conforming first mortgage with a home equity Glossary Term: second mortgage for up to 80% of the property’s value in a single application with 1 down payment. Combination loans may help you avoid the higher rates of a jumbo first mortgage. Combination loans are made up of 3 parts:

These 3 parts can be combined in different ways. For example, a 70% first mortgage, 10% home equity second mortgage and 20% down payment. Talk with a Bank of America mortgage loan officer for information about combination loans.

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