Although there are a lot of different variations on the types of mortgages available when you’re buying a home, they all boil down to two different kinds: fixed and floating. If you hear these terms when you’re doing your home shopping, you may start to wonder what they mean and which one is best for your needs. A firm understanding of the difference between a fixed mortgage and a floating mortgage can make a huge difference when it comes time to talk numbers with your bank, lender, or financial advisor.
Floating Mortgages: These types of mortgages are also known as adjustable rate or variable rate mortgages. All three of these terms mean the same thing: a mortgage with an interest rate that can change over time. The benefit to choosing a mortgage like this one is that the initial rate is usually going to come in quite a lot lower than the standard market rate at the time you apply for the mortgage. However, as the years go on, the rate may fluctuate. Eventually, the rate will end up higher than the standard rate was at the time the mortgage was issued, which means you’ll be paying more than you would have in the end with a fixed rate mortgage.
This type of mortgage is really only a good choice if you absolutely can’t afford the standard market interest rate at the time of the mortgage but are certain you will be able to afford a higher rate later on down the line. You will be told up front at what time you can expect your rate to increase, but you may not always know how much it’s going to increase to ahead of time.
Fixed Rate Mortgages: A fixed rate mortgage has an interest rate that never changes. Initially, the rate may be a little bit higher than it would be with a floating mortgage, but it will never change even if the market standards go much higher in a few years. These are usually considered the better option for most homebuyers because they are easy to understand and make it easy to budget the mortgage into the monthly and yearly household economy. There is usually some variance in the length of time that these mortgages last, and they can be anywhere from 15 years to 30 years in most situations.
If a fixed rate mortgage goes for 30 years, a good portion of that will be dedicated solely to paying off interest. This may sound bad, but for homebuyers who can fit the monthly mortgage payment into their budget without trouble, there’s not really much of a downside to it. A fixed rate mortgage is almost always the better option, but higher interest rates can make it difficult to quality for one of these mortgages.