Itâs a new year and if one of your resolutions is to get out of debt, you might be thinking about consolidating your bills into a personal loan. With this kind of loan, you can streamline your payments and potentially get rid of your debt more quickly. If you plan on getting a personal loan in 2016, here are some key things to keep in mind before you start searching for a lender.
Check out our personal loan calculator.
1. Interest Rates Are Going Up
At the end of 2015, the Federal Reserve initiated a much anticipated hike in the federal funds rate. What this means for borrowers is that taking on debt is going to be more expensive going forward. That means that the personal loan rates youâre seeing now could be a lot higher six or nine months from now. If youâre planning on borrowing, it might be a good idea to scope out loan offers sooner rather than later.
2. Online Lenders Likely Have the Best Deals
The online lending marketplace has exploded in recent years. With an online lender, there are fewer overhead costs involved, which translates to fewer fees and lower rates for borrowers.
With a lower interest rate, more money will stay in your pocket in the long run. Lending Club, for example, claims that their customers have interest rates that are 33% lower, on average, after consolidating their debt or paying off credit cards using a personal loan.
Related Article: How to Get a Personal Loan
3. Your Credit Matters
Regardless of whether you go through a brick-and-mortar bank or an online lender, you likely wonât have access to the best rates if you donât have a great credit score. In the worst case scenario, you could be denied a personal loan altogether.
You can check your credit score for free. And each year, you have a chance to get a free credit report from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. If you havenât pulled yours in a while, now might be a good time to take a look.
As you review your report, itâs important to make sure that all of your account information is being reported properly. If you see a paid account thatâs still showing a balance, for example, or a collection account you donât recognize, youâll need to dispute those items with the credit bureau thatâs reporting the information.
4. Personal Loan Scams Are Common
As more and more lenders enter the personal loan arena, the opportunity for scammers to cash in on unsuspecting victims also increases. If youâre applying for a loan online, itâs best to be careful about who you give your personal information to.
Some of the signs that may indicate that a personal loan agreement is actually a scam include lenders who use overly pushy sales tactics to get you to commit or ask you to put up a deposit as a guarantee against the loan. If you come across a lender who doesnât seem concerned about checking your credit or tells you they can give you a loan without doing any paperwork, those are big red flags that the lender may not be legit.
Related Article: How to Avoid Personal Loan Scams
5. Not Reading the Fine Print Could Cost You
Before you sign off on a personal loan, itâs best to take time to read over the details of the loan agreement. Something as simple as paying one date late could trigger a fee or cause a higher penalty rate to kick in, which would make the loan more expensive in the long run.
You may not realize it, but behind the scenes the Federal Reserve is quietly influencing your everyday life when it comes to borrowing, saving and even spending. Serving as the central bank of the United States, the Federal Reserve, or Fed, is responsible for managing the country’s monetary policy. A big part of its job is adjusting the federal funds rateâthe short-term interest rate banks charge each other to lend funds overnight. The Fed decides whether or not to raise or lower this benchmark interest rate in order to reach maximum employment and stable inflation.
OK, wait. Policymakers, the economics behind employment and inflation, overnight lending between banks… so how does a change in interest rate affect your decision to spend or save, you ask? To borrow from a popular saying: âSo goes the federal funds rate, so goes consumer interest rates,” says Riley Adams, a certified public accountant and founder of personal finance website Young and the Invested. Whether it goes up or down, a change to the federal funds rate could have a ripple effect in the same direction for borrowers, savers and spendersâan important proof point for why the federal funds rate matters for consumers.
If this is news to you and the federal funds rate hasn’t really been on your radar, have no fear. What follows will help you more fully answer the question: How does the Federal Reserve interest rate affect me? Then you’ll be on your way to making the best money management decisions for your financial goals and the current interest rate environment.
A low interest rate environment makes borrowing more attractive
The answer to “how does the Federal Reserve interest rate affect me?” can be very beneficial in a low-rate environment if you have debt or are looking for new borrowing opportunities. When the Fed cuts rates, borrowing money tends to become less expensive since banks and lenders also typically lower rates on their credit products.
In a low-rate environment, for example, you could see lower rates on:
Private student loans
Home equity lines of credit
Why the federal funds rate matters for consumers and the credit cards in your wallet has to do with minimum payments and interest charges. A Federal Reserve rate cut could translate to a lower minimum payment on credit cards and a lower cost to carry a balance from one month to the next. For loans, a Fed rate cut could mean lower monthly payments and less interest paid out over the life of the loan. Lower borrowing costs can add money back to your budget that you could use to spend, save or apply to your financial goal of choice.
How does the Federal Reserve interest rate affect me when it comes to homeownership, you ask? There’s good news there, too. When the Fed lowers rates, homeowners with an adjustable-rate mortgage or homebuyers shopping for one may experience a rate reduction, since the rates for this type of mortgage typically track with the prime rate, which is in turn influenced by the federal funds rate. The lower your mortgage rate, the lower your monthly payment and the more home you might be able to afford. Good deal. Note that fixed-rate mortgages are less directly impacted by a Fed rate cut.
Chad Rixse, director of financial planning at Forefront Wealth Partners, says that when rates are falling, it may be a good time to consider refinancing or consolidating existing debt, such as private student loans, home loans and car loans. (Definitions: Refinancing means replacing your existing loan with a new one at a lower rate. Consolidating means paying off multiple loans with a single new loan.)
When analyzing “how does the Federal Reserve interest rate affect me?” Adams adds that consumers should be mindful of how much rates have dropped to determine the value of refinancing or consolidating. Using mortgages as an example: “They should not consider refinancing a mortgage after a 25 basis point (0.25%) cut in the rates because the associated costs and fees will outweigh any interest savings,” Adams says. “If rates move meaningfully lower (1.00%+), they should be on the lookout for refinancing offers, assuming they have significant time remaining on their mortgage and can benefit from lower interest costs.”
âSo goes the federal funds rate, so goes consumer interest rates.”
When rates rise, savers reap the benefits
How does the Federal Reserve interest rate affect me when rates go up? In a higher interest rate environment, your savings may actually be able to get a little more love.
“If interest rates rise, this benefits savers by possibly earning more interest on their bank deposits, assuming their bank indexes interest rates on deposits to remain competitive against other banks,” Adams says.
For your list of “ways the Fed interest rate affects me,” consider that these savings vehicles could earn more interest when rates rise:
Certificates of deposit (CDs)
Money market accounts
Interest-bearing checking accounts
You can take advantage of higher savings interest rates and get the most from your savings efforts by increasing the amount of money stashed in your interest-earning savings accounts. The higher the balance, the more you will earn.
If you’re focused on saving and there’s a chance rates could drop in the near term, you may want to lock in a higher rate while you can with a long-term, fixed-rate CD. That way, you can continue to earn a higher rate throughout the CD’s term even if the Fed cuts the federal funds rate and rates start to drop on deposit accounts.
A simple way to reach your goals.
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Interest rates can affect spending habits
Why the federal funds rate matters for consumers even extends into purchasing power and everyday spending.
âBy raising the federal funds rate, the Fed makes it more attractive for banks to hold extra capital,” says James McGrath, a housing market expert and licensed real estate broker at New York-based real estate firm Yoreevo. âWhen more money is locked away in vaults, there is less available to make loans and buy things, which slows growth and inflation.”
If inflation is kept to a minimum by the Fed’s benchmark interest rate, prices for things you buy every dayâthink groceries or personal care itemsâhave less room to increase. If a Fed rate change keeps those everyday prices low, you can put more of your money toward savings or paying off high-interest debt.
On the flip side, McGrath says the Fed can lower rates to spur spending. That puts more money into the economy, but it does open up the potential for prices to rise, he says. If you’re wondering “what ways the Fed interest rate affects me?” consider that higher prices could mean that your money has to stretch further to buy the same things.
How to handle interest rate changes
By now, you should have a better understanding of why the federal funds rate matters for consumers. While there’s nothing you can do to control the Federal Reserve’s rate changes, you can control how you react to rising or falling rates.
Look at your overall financial situation against the backdrop of what’s happening with rates. Your list of ways the Fed interest rate affects me might be different than someone else’s. Ask yourself how you can take advantage of rising or falling rates for maximum financial benefit when it comes to your borrowing, saving and spending priorities. For example, if the Fed hikes rates and you’ve been building up a college savings fund for your children, you may be motivated to put more into savings to take advantage of higher returns. If rates are cut and you’ve been in the market for a loan for some time, now could be the time to jump on it.
Note that the ways the Fed interest rate affects me may also depend on more than just one Fed rate change. “Small changes don’t amount to significant differences over time,” Adams says. “It’s when a long-term rate increase or decrease path becomes the norm that consumers should pay more attention,” he adds.
Above all, remember that rate increases and decreases are a normal part of what the Fed does. âRemain calm and carry on,” Rixse suggests. âDon’t let panic or negative emotions guide your decision-making.”
The post How Does the Federal Reserve Interest Rate Affect Me? appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.
We saw mortgage rates dip a little lower on Friday after trouble in Turkey led financial market participants to seek out the perceived safety of long-term government bonds.
Mortgage rates are expected to stay close to current levels this week, but we could see some movement after a few key economic reports get released. Read on for more details.
Where are mortgage rates going?Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Rates hold lower to start the week
It’s a quiet start to the week as there are no significant economic reports scheduled for release. That’s keeping long-term government bond yields, which dropped due to an increased demand on Friday after trouble for Turkey’s lira, down near three week lows.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note (the best market indicator of where mortgage rates are going) is currently at 2.88%. That’s basically flat on the day and about six basis points lower from where it was this time last week.
The expectation for this week is the same as it’s been for quite some time, and that’s for current mortgage rates to stay close to present levels. The fact that rates have remained in a tight range all summer (and most of spring) really isn’t the worst thing for borrowers, as many forecasters had expected rates to rise higher than they are now by this time.
The pressure isn’t off quite yet, though, as it is widely anticipated that the Federal Reserve will increase the nation’s benchmark interest rate, the federal funds rate, by at least a quarter-point by the time 2019 rolls around.
According to the CME Group’s Fed Funds futures, there is a 96.0% chance that the federal funds rate will go up a little over a month from now at the FOMC’s September meeting.
That would push the target range up a quarter-point to 2.00%-2.25%. There is still a lot of time between now and December, but at the moment the majority of analysts believe another rate hike will take place then, pushing the fed funds target range up to 2.50%-2.75%.
Rate/Float RecommendationÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Lock now before move even higherÂ Â Â
With mortgage rates expected to rise in the coming months, we believe the prudent decision for most borrowers is to lock in a rate sooner rather than later. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that you’ll get a higher rate and pay more interest on your purchase or refinance.
Learn what you can do to get the best interest rate possible.Â Â
After falling to the lowest rate in Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey’s near 50-year-history last week, the average U.S. mortgage rate for a 30-year fixed loan remained at a survey-low 2.67% this week.
Last weekâs announcement of a 2.67% rate broke the previous record set on Dec. 3, and was the first time the survey reported rates below 2.7%.
The average fixed rate for a 15-year mortgage also fell this week to 2.17% from 2.19%. One year ago, 15-year average fixed rates were reported at 3.16%.
âAll eyes have been on mortgage rates this year, especially the 30-year fixed-rate, which has dropped more than one percentage point over the last twelve months, driving housing market activity in 2020,â said Sam Khater, Freddie Macâs chief economist. âHeading into 2021 we expect rates to remain flat, potentially rising modestly off their record low, but solid purchase demand and tight inventory will continue to put pressure on housing markets as well as house price growth.â
Freddie Mac has reported survey-low rates 16 times in 2020, proving beneficial to borrowers looking to buy or refinance a home amid economic turmoil outside of the industry.
Mortgage spreads continue to compress, per Freddie Mac officials, with the 10-yearÂ TreasuryÂ yield remaining at or above 90 basis points through the beginning of December.
This week’s 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 2.71%, down from last week when it averaged 2.79%. That’s another sharp drop-off from this time last year, when the 5-year ARM averaged 3.46%.
The Federal Open Market Committee revealed earlier this month that the Federal Reserve plans to keep interest rates low until labor market conditions and inflation meet the committeeâs standards. Overall, Fed purchases have helped to drive mortgage rates and other loan interest rates to the lowest level on record by boosting competition for bonds.
Higher rates may be around the corner, as the calendar flips to 2021 and the promise of a second COVID-19 stimulus check along with a vaccine reaches consumers. The Mortgage Bankers Association has forecasted rates for 30-year fixed-rate loans rising to an average of 3.2% by the end of 2021.
But if the virus is not controlled in the new year, investors may remain cautious and consumer confidence could wane – keeping rates low, according to the MBA.
The post Mortgage rates remain at record-low levels appeared first on HousingWire.
So here we are just a month later, in a full-blown economic panic, and at the start of the most sudden recession ever.
The pandemic has spread much further and faster than most uninformed people (including me) would have ever guessed, and the whole world is on some form of lockdown. Nothing quite like this has ever happened before in the modern world.
What should we do?
On the financial side, I’ve seen media stories about “The End of FIRE movement”, and a close friend even said to me, “Well, I’ve got to go back to work now because with all my investments down 35%, I’m not financially independent any more.”
And I’ve seen plenty of similar statements out there on the Internet:
Even worse, some people are trying to time the stock market, selling off their investments at a discount in the hopes of “protecting” them, hoping to subsequently outsmart everyone else and re-buy them at an even lower price just before some future rebound.
On the human side, we have seen a death toll of thousands of people per day in the US alone with best-case forecasts of 200,000 by the time things calm down, which implies several million worldwide.
And so far, we have not been performing like a best-case country so these numbers will probably be higher.
This all sounds terrible, doesn’t it?
It makes sense that many people are fearful and pessimistic. So why is it that I remain as optimistic as ever, with the full expectation that you and I will come through this humbled but also wiser and better than ever?
It’s because I already know how this all ends.
The world will keep rallying and doing its best to slow down contagion. Caring people will keep helping each other. People will stay home and heal, hospitals will expand, nurses and doctors will do their best to save as many lives as possible, and the 80% of us in jobs that allow us to keep working, will keep doing our jobs.
Meanwhile, innovators are still innovating all over the world. People are staying up late working in labs, vaccines are being tested, genes are being sequenced and the current virus will end up beaten and then written up as a very significant chapter in the history books.
But apart from all of this, there is still way more going on out there, which just isn’t making it to the headlines. Engineers and scientists are still inventing things that will drastically improve the future. Solar panels are still streaming out by the trainload and being installed worldwide. Better and better batteries which will eventually displace all fossil fuel use are evolving. The most efficient factories in history are being built. Gene therapies are advancing which will eventually make a mockery of all of our current health conditions. Internet connectivity and education is becoming more widely available and cheaper which is allowing the next generation of brilliant kids to to grow up and learn faster and do more than you or I could have even dreamed. And all this will happen regardless of the course of the current pandemic.
If all that is true, then why is the world so Scary right now?
I get it – never before has something from the daily news come home to affect our daily lives so much. Grocery stores are cleaned out, people are wearing masks, and you probably have friends who are currently unemployed, or sick, or both.
But in this situation, it really helps to understand the big picture of what is actually going on. The world is not ending. The air outside your windows is not a swirling cloud of certain death.
All that has changed is that we are in a self-imposed economic slowdown that has been created purely to save the lives of our most vulnerable people.
Which is one of the most compassionate things our society has ever done. To me, this is a remarkable and wonderful moment and I would not have guessed that such a capitalist country would ever have the balls to do it.
To put it into a visual, we have decided to prevent the following worst-case scenario:
(IMPORTANT NOTE: The timing of these hypothetical deaths is not real medical data, just an illustration of my own personal guess – made with a mouse pointer rather than a spreadsheet. However the US background death rate really is about 2.8M per year per the CDC)
And turn it into this:
In the worst case, our public officials would all downplay the risk of COVID-19, and we’d keep working and traveling and spreading it freely. We’d maximize our economic activity and let the disease run its course.
From the disease models I have seen so far, about 70% of us would eventually contract it. Half of those would have no symptoms or very mild ones, a smaller (but still huge) number would get sick or very sick, 10% might end up in a very overloaded hospital system, and in total about 1-2% of our population would die from complications – partly depending on how quickly we could put up temporary treatment centers to cycle through 30 million people in only a few years.
It would feel cruel and chaotic, but in reality we would still not be even approaching the conditions that people in the developing world deal with every day. Our world has always been cruel and chaotic in so many ways which affect a much larger number of people – we just happen to be used to them. And one thing that humans are exceptionally good at, is getting used to things.
In the more compassionate case which we are currently following, we drastically reduce the amount of contact we have with each other for a few months, which cuts the number of deaths in the US down from 3-6 million, down to perhaps 200,000. In exchange, our economy shrinks by several trillion dollars (it was about 21 trillion in 2019) for a year or more.
Assuming we are preventing 3 million early deaths, this means our society is foregoing about one million dollars of economic activity for each person’s life that we extend and frankly, it makes me happy to know we are capable of that.
So that’s the big picture: we are cautiously and temporarily buckling down and making some sacrifices, in order to help other people.
To me, that is not a cause for panic or fear – it’s a chance to try even harder and be thankful for such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Meanwhile, some good stuff is happening as a byproduct:
We are driving around and polluting far less. The air is drastically cleaner everywhere.
People are out walking with their kids far more. The streets of my town are nearly free from cars, and are being enjoyed by (appropriately spaced) bikes and people for the first time.
Our expectations are being reset. Someday soon, it will feel like an absolute joy and privilege to walk into a store and see things fully stocked and prosperous again. And imagine the feeling of taking a vacation or attending a big event or a restaurant or a party!
People in rich countries may realize that we can afford to be helpful and compassionate after all – while actually increasing our long term wealth and happiness rather than compromising it.
And the world is getting a valuable “practice run” at handling a pandemic, with a relatively mild disease rather than something even more serious.
So How Does This Affect my Retirement?
Once you really get the big picture above, you can see that we are going to come through this better in every way.
Just as with any recession, weaker companies will go bankrupt, stronger ones will streamline their operations and get smarter, and the chaos and broken pieces will become the raw materials from which an enormous batch of brand-new companies will form.
Better ways to track and treat disease, more scalable and less bureaucratic hospitals, more options for remote medicine and more support for remote work and virtual offices and virtual learning in general. More home delivery services and fewer big box stores and wasted parking lots, more support for biking and walking, and a million other things that a billion other people will think of.
The end result will be a better, more resilient and richer world than ever. Yes, that will also eventually mean more money in your retirement account, but more importantly it means better and happier living conditions for every living thing on Earth.
While this all sounds like optimistic magic, it’s actually just a byproduct of human nature. We are a lazy and change-averse creature and we become complacent when our fearful and primitive brains think things are “good enough” for survival and reproduction.
So, oddly enough, we often need a good slap upside the head to get off of our collective asses and actually make some improvements. Observe the wisdom of our elders:
When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
Necessity is the Mother of Invention.
What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.
As old and repeated as these slogans might be, they stick around because they keep proving to be remarkably true. They are the real-world manifestation of a badassity that is built right into our Human DNA, which is why they are some of my favorite phrases in life.
Are things a bit hard right now?
See you in the inevitable and incredible boom-time that will result.
Other Interesting Things That Might Help You Feel Better:
The Simple Path to Wealth, by my longtime author/blogger friend JL Collins, explains long-term investing in the most simple and calm way imaginable.
Towards Rational Exuberance is a more technical and detailed (but still very fun to read) history of the stock market and how the Federal Reserve bank serves to stabilize our system. Although I read this book over fifteen years ago, it has underpinned my understanding and confidence in long-term investing ever since. I would love it if author Mark Smith would add a few chapters to cover the two most recent market crashes as well!
A Guided Meditation for when the Stock Market is Dropping, is Jim’s witty YouTube reminder of the same thing, which he somehow created long before any of this panic started – how could he possibly have known in advance??
Good News, there’s Another Recession Coming is my own magical forecast of the present moment, made over two years ago.
Why We are Not Really All Doomed, my 2014 take on why the world was (and still is) well positioned for many decades of future prosperity.
How To Retire Forever on a Fixed Chunk of Money gets into the reason why stock market drops like the present one don’t really hurt an early retiree (it’s because the vast majority of your shares will be sold several decades from now, when the present panic is barely a blip on the graph.
And finally, just for fun here’s an example of something that is not written to make you feel better. In recent weeks, I spent several hours writing out some interview answers for an article in the New York Times.
I was truly excited to share the details of why the Principles of Mustachianism are more useful than ever in times like these, and it’s quite the opposite of “The End of FIRE” that the silly and financially naive media have been peddling in recent stories.
I was disappointed in the end result. Most of my answers were cut out, and instead the article is focused on “hardships” that other early retirees are currently working through. And the clickbaity title sets the expectations wrong to begin with:
They All Retired Before They Hit 40. And Then This Happened.
(that link will take you to my Twitter post about it, where an interesting discussion has formed in the comments – what do you think?)
Just about everybody with a wallet is impacted by the Federal Reserve. That means youâhomeowners and prospective buyers. Whether you’re already nestled in to the house of your dreams or still looking to find it, you’ll probably want to track what happens to mortgage rates when the Fed cuts rates. When the Fed (as it’s commonly referred to) cuts its federal funds rateâthe rate banks charge each other to lend funds overnightâthe move could impact your mortgage costs.
The Fed’s overall goal when it cuts the federal funds rate is to stimulate the economy by spurring consumers to spend and borrow. This is good news if you are carrying debt because borrowing tends to become less expensive following a Fed rate cut (think: lower credit card APRs). But in the case of homeownership, what happens to mortgage rates when the Fed cuts rates can be a double-edged sword.
The connection between a Fed rate cut and mortgage rates isn’t so crystal clear because the federal funds rate doesn’t directly influence the rate on every type of home loan.
“Mortgage rates are formed by global market forces, and the Federal Reserve participates in those market forces but isn’t always the most important factor,” says Holden Lewis, who’s been covering the mortgage industry for nearly 20 years and is also a regular contributor to NerdWallet.
To understand which side of the sword you’re on, you’ll need an answer to the question, “How does a Fed rate cut affect mortgage rates?” Read on to find out if you stand to potentially gain on your mortgage in a low-rate environment:
How a fixed-rate mortgage movesâor doesn’t
A fixed-rate mortgage has an interest rate that remains the same for the entire length of the loan. If the Fed cuts rates, what happens to mortgage rates if you are an existing homeowner with a fixed-rate mortgage? Nothing should happen to your monthly payments following a Fed rate cut because your rate has already been locked in.
“For current homeowners with a fixed-rate mortgage set at a previous higher level, the existing mortgage rate stays put,” Lewis says.
If you’re a prospective homebuyer shopping around for a fixed-rate mortgage, the news of what happens to mortgage rates when the Fed cuts rates may be different.
For prospective homebuyers: If the Fed cuts its interest rate and the 10-year Treasury yield is similarly tracking, the rates on fixed-rate mortgages could drop, “and you could lock in interest at a lower fixed rate than before.”
The federal funds rate does not directly impact the rates on this type of home loan, so a Fed rate cut doesn’t guarantee that lenders will start offering lower mortgage rates. However, the 10-year Treasury yield does tend to influence fixed-rate mortgages, and this yield often moves in the same direction as the federal funds rate.
If the Fed cuts its interest rate and the 10-year Treasury yield is similarly tracking, the rates on fixed-rate mortgages could drop, “and you could lock in interest at a lower fixed rate than before,” Lewis says. It’s also possible that rates on fixed mortgages will not fall following a Fed rate cut.
How an adjustable-rate mortgage follows the Fed
An adjustable-rate mortgage (commonly referred to as an ARM) is a home loan with an interest rate that can fluctuate periodicallyâalso known as variable rate. There is often a fixed period of time during which the initial rate stays the same, and then it adjusts on a regular interval. (For instance, with a 5/1 ARM, the initial rate stays locked in for five years and then adjusts each year thereafter.)
So back to the burning question: If the Fed cuts rates, what happens to mortgage rates? The rates on an ARM typically track with the index that the loan uses, e.g., the prime rate, which is in turn influenced by the federal funds rate.
“If the Fed drops its rate during the adjustment period, you could see your interest rate go down and, in turn, see lower monthly payments,” says Emily Stroud, financial advisor and founder of Stroud Financial Management.
Since ARMs are often adjusted annually after the fixed period, you may not feel the impact of the Fed rate cut until your ARM’s next annual loan adjustment. For instance, if there is one (or more) rate cuts during the course of a year, the savings from the rate reduction(s) would hit all at once at the time of your reset.
If the Fed cuts rates, what happens to mortgage rates for prospective homebuyers considering an ARM? An even lower rate could be in your futureâat least for a specific period of time.
“If you’re looking for a shorter-term mortgage, say a 5/1 ARM, you could save considerably on interest,” Stroud says. That’s because the introductory rate of an ARM is usually lower than the rate of a fixed-rate mortgage, Stroud explains. Add that benefit to lower rates fueled by a Fed rate cut and an ARM could be enticing if it supports your financial goals and plans.
“If the Fed drops its rate during the adjustment period, you could see your interest rate go down and, in turn, see lower monthly payments.”
Benefits of other variable-rate loans following a rate cut
If you have a Fed rate cut and mortgage rates on your mind and are a borrower with other types of variable-rate loans, you could be impacted following a Fed rate cut. Borrowers with variable-rate home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) and adjustable-rate Federal Housing Administration loans (FHA ARMs), for example, may end up ahead of the curve when the Fed cuts its rate, according to Lewis:
A HELOC is typically a “second mortgage” that provides you access to cash for goals like debt consolidation or home improvement and is a revolving line of credit, using your home as collateral. A Fed rate cut could result in lower rates for variable-rate HELOCs that track with the prime rate. If you are an existing homeowner with a HELOC, you could see your monthly payments drop following a Fed rate cut.
An FHA ARM is an ARM insured by the federal government. If you’re wondering about a Fed rate cut and mortgage rates, know that this type of mortgage behaves much like a conventional variable-rate loan when the Fed cuts it rate, Lewis says. Existing homeowners with an FHA ARM could see a rate drop, and prospective homebuyers could also benefit from lower rates following a Fed rate cut.
Refinancing: A silver lining for fixed rates
When it comes to a Fed rate cut and mortgage rates, refinancing to a lower rate could be an option if you have an existing fixed-rate loan. The process of refinancing replaces an existing loan with a new one that pays off your old loan’s debt. You then make payments on your new loan, so the goal is to refinance at a time when you can get better terms.
“If someone buys a home one year and a Fed rate cut results in a mortgage rate reduction, for example, it presents a real refinance opportunity for homeowners,” Lewis says. âJust a small percentage point reduction could possibly trim a few hundred bucks from your monthly payments.”
Before a refinancing decision is made based on a Fed rate cut and mortgage rates, you should consider any upfront costs and fees associated with refinancing to ensure they don’t offset any potential savings.
Managing your finances as a homeowner
You might be expecting some savings in your future now that you’re armed with information on what happens to mortgage rates when the Fed cuts rates. Whether you’re a homebuyer and financing your new home is going to cost you less with a lower interest rate, or you’re an existing homeowner with an ARM that may come with lower monthly payments, Stroud suggests to use any uncovered savings wisely.
“Invest that cash back into your property, pay down your home equity debt or borrow with it,” she says.
While news of a Fed rate cut may entice you to analyze how your mortgage will be impacted, remember there are many factors that help to determine your mortgage rate, including your credit score, home price, loan amount and down payment. The Fed’s actions are only one piece of a larger equation.
Even though the Fed’s rate decisions may dominate headlines immediately following a rate cut, your home is a long-term investment and one you’ll likely maintain for years. To best prepare for what happens to mortgage rates when the Fed cuts rates is to always manage your home finances responsibly and be sure to make choices that will lead you down the right path based on your financial goals.
*This should not be considered tax or investment advice. Please consult a financial planner or tax advisor if you have questions.
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