Rising Rates Make ARM Loans More Popular for Seattle Borrowers

October 25, 2022
Last updated:
October 25, 2022
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Mortgage rates nationwide have increased quite a bit over the past 12 months. As a result, some home buyers in the Seattle area have begun to reconsider their mortgage options. And it seems the adjustable-rate home loan is gaining popularity in 2022.

A recent report from the Mortgage Bankers Association showed an increase in the number of adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) loans across Washington and nationwide. In this article, we will explore this recent trend and explain why some Seattle-area home buyers are now favoring ARM loans over fixed-rate mortgages.

ARM Loans Becoming More Popular in Seattle Area

The average rate for a 30-year fixed home loan (America’s most popular mortgage product) is currently hovering around 7%. That’s a significant increase from a year ago, when 30-year home loan rates were averaging closer to 3%.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage tends to have higher interest rates than shorter-term ARM loans, historically speaking. Because of this, an increasing number of home buyers in Seattle and elsewhere across the U.S. are now looking to adjustable-rate mortgage products as a way to lower their monthly payments.

Earlier this month, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) published the results of their latest application survey. This survey reveals a variety of trends relating to mortgage loan applications nationwide. Among other things, it shows the percentage of adjustable-rate mortgage loans compared to the more popular fixed-rate home loan.

In their latest report, published on October 19, 2022, MBA reported a measurable increase in the number of borrowers using ARM loans to buy a house.

According to Joel Kan, MBA’s Deputy Chief Economist:

“With rates at these high levels, the ARM share rose to 12.8 percent of all applications, which was the highest share since March 2008. ARM loans continue to remain a viable option for borrowers who are still trying to find ways to reduce their monthly payments.”

Seattle Mortgage Rates

A Way to Save Money in the Short Term

During the week ending on October 21, 2022, the average rate for a standard 30-year fixed-rate mortgage loan was 6.94%. That’s based on the weekly nationwide survey conducted by Freddie Mac.

That same week, the average rate for a five-year adjustable mortgage was 5.71%. This explains why ARM loans have become more popular among Seattle home buyers. They typically offer a lower initial interest rate for borrowers, when compared to the longer-term 30-year mortgage.

At first glance, the difference between these average rates might not seem that significant. But if you plug these figures into a mortgage calculator using the same loan amount, you’ll see that the lower rate associated with an ARM loan could save a borrower hundreds of dollars per month.

And it’s not just mortgage rates that have risen. Home prices in the Seattle metro area have increased significantly over the past couple of years. So a lot of buyers are now looking for ways to minimize their monthly payments, as much as possible. The adjustable-rate mortgage loan is one way a home buyer could reduce their monthly payments during the first few years.

A Less Predictable Home Loan Option

Almost every mortgage option has certain advantages and disadvantages associated with it. The key is to choose the right type of mortgage loan for your particular situation. This allows you to maximize the benefits while reducing, or eliminating, any downsides. This is true for the adjustable-rate mortgage loan as well.

The primary benefit of using an ARM loan to buy a house in the Seattle area is that it could save you money. We talked about this earlier.

If you review the average interest rates reported by Freddie Mac, MBA and other sources, you’ll notice the 5-year ARM loan almost always tracks below the 30-year fixed. That means you could enjoy lower monthly payments by using an adjustable mortgage to buy a home in Seattle.

But an “adjustable” loan will eventually live up to its name, with an interest rate that changes over time. ARM loans usually offer a fixed interest rate for the first few years. But after that, the loan can reset to current market rates at the time of adjustment. As a homeowner, you don’t really know how your rate will behave over the long-term.

Many borrowers who use the adjustable-rate mortgage loan capitalize on the advantages while avoiding the uncertainty. They do this by securing a lower interest rate for the first few years, and then refinancing or selling the house before the adjustments begin.

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Other Ways to Minimize Your Monthly Payments

Using an ARM loan to buy a house in the Seattle area is just one way you could reduce your monthly payments. There are other financing strategies that can deliver similar results. That’s why it pays to speak with a knowledgeable mortgage professional.

If you’d like to learn more about the different ways to finance a home purchase in the Seattle area, please contact our staff. We can explain the different options you have and help you choose the one that meets your specific needs.

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