The large majority of people who are purchasing a home do it by taking out a mortgage loan. Buying a home with cash is something that very few people can afford, and it’s not always a good investment (Read: Should You Pay for Your Home in Cash Upfront?). But mortgages come with interest rates, closing fees and many other costs, so finding a cheap mortgage becomes the number one priority when buying a home. Fortunately, there are many options out there when it comes to mortgages, and each are designed for certain categories of people.
The most popular mortgage loans feature fixed or adjustable interest rates. A fixed interest rate means that you will be paying the same interest rate for the duration of the loan, which means that you won’t have any surprises down the road. Adjustable interest rates fluctuate during the life of the loan, which means that you might have to pay either more or less in interest during the course of the repayment period.
The fixed-rate mortgage is considered safer than the adjustable-rate mortgage because the interest rate will remain the same, so you will always know how much your monthly payment will be, but sometimes an adjustable-rate mortgage may be a better deal (Read: Even With Fixed-Rate Mortgages So Low, Don’t Overlook Adjustable Rates!). Another type of mortgage is a combination of the fixed-rate and the adjustable-rate mortgages, and it is called a hybrid mortgage.
What is a Hybrid Mortgage Loan?
A hybrid mortgage loan is both a fixed-rate mortgage loan and an adjustable-rate mortgage loan. The hybrid mortgage starts off as a fixed-rate mortgage, and then converts to an adjustable-rate mortgage. During the fixed rate period, which can be up to 10 years, the interest rate remains unchanged. When the initial period ends and the mortgage is converted to an adjustable-rate mortgage, the interest will increase or decrease, based on several indices, annually until the end of the repayment period.
Hybrids are normally referred to as a 5/1 mortgage, for example. The first number represents the fixed interest rate period of the mortgage. In this example, the hybrid mortgage will have a fixed-rate period of 5 years. The second number represents the adjustment interval that will be applied once the fixed-rate period is over. In our example the interest is adjusted once every year.
Pros and Cons of the Hybrid Mortgage Loan
Like most mortgage loans, the hybrid mortgage is also designed to accommodate the need of a particular group of home buyers. Here are the benefits of such a mortgage:
- Compared to 1 year adjustable-rate mortgages, hybrid mortgages have lower risk, and a lower interest rate when compared to most fixed rate mortgages.
- Hybrid mortgages are a great choice for home buyers who only wish to live in the home for a predetermined period of time.
- The interest during the fixed-rate period will be lower than the interest on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, making this type of mortgage a great choice for those who don’t plan on living in the home for a long time (Read: Is Flipping Houses for You?) .
- There is always a chance that the interest will decrease during the adjustable-rate period, making the monthly payments and overall loan value lower.
The largest downside of hybrid mortgage loans is that once the initial period is finished, there is a large risk that your interest rate will increase significantly, making it hard for you to pay your mortgage on time each month (Read: Do You Recognize the Early Warning Signs for Increasing Home Interest Rates?). Most hybrid mortgages have a maximum interest increase set, usually 2 percent per year, but that 2 percent can mean a lot of money, depending on how much you have borrowed.
Hybrid mortgages are great for those who wish to remain in the home for less than 10 years, and they can work for some others as well. But before you start shopping around for any mortgage, be sure that you know what your budget is and how long you plan on living in the home. If it’s a short while, then you will actually save money with a hybrid mortgage, but if you plan on living for a long while, you should look at other types of mortgages.