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When mortgage rates are high, borrowers often turn to adjustable-rate mortgages to save money. Check out today’s ARM rates to see how rates are currently trending.
What are current ARM rates?
In October, 7/1 ARM rates averaged around 7.43% and 5/1 ARM rates averaged around 7.29%, according to Zillow data. These rates are only a tiny bit higher than they were in September, and they currently aren’t significantly lower than the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate, which was 7.54% in October. This means that an ARM might now get you a significant discount right now compared to a fixed-rate loan.
Another common ARM length is the 10-year ARM, often available as either a 10/1 or 10/6 ARM. Of the most popular types of ARMs, 10-year ARMs have the longest fixed-rate period, which means that they typically have slightly higher rates than shorter fixed terms.
Mortgage rates have remained elevated as the economy has been slow to cool. Once inflation drops and the labor market cools off, rates should start dropping.
Compare today’s ARM interest rates
See how the latest ARM rates compare to other types of mortgages.
Fixed-rate mortgage vs. ARM rates
Earlier in 2023, ARM rates were around 50 to 60 basis points lower than average 30-year fixed mortgage rates, depending on the type of ARM. This means that the average borrower getting a $250,000 mortgage could save as much as $90 per month by getting a 5/1 ARM rather than a 30-year fixed-rate loan.
But right now, ARM rates aren’t significantly lower than 30-year fixed rates. In some cases, they may even be higher. As mortgage rates fall across the board in the coming months and years, ARMs may start to come with a better discount. But at the moment, you’re often better off getting a fixed-rate loan.
What is an ARM?
The term “ARM” refers to an adjustable-rate mortgage. When you get a mortgage, you’ll need to decide whether you want a fixed or adjustable rate.
Fixed-rate mortgages have the same rate for the entire life of the loan. This means your monthly payment will remained largely unchanged, except for adjustments in your tax and insurance costs.
Adjustable-rate mortgages start out with a fixed rate for a certain period of time. Once this fixed period is up, your rate will adjust on a regular basis according to whatever index the rate is tied to.
For example, with a 7/1 ARM, you’ll pay the same interest rate for the first seven years, then your interest rate will adjust every year after that. With a 5/6 ARM, your rate will be fixed for the first five years, then adjust every six months.
ARM pros and cons
- Lower rates
- Lower monthly payments
- Save on interest
- Benefit from rate drops
If you can get a significantly lower rate on an ARM than a fixed-rate mortgage, your monthly payment will be lower, giving you some extra room in your budget for other things, like saving for retirement.
Plus, if your rate drops once the initial fixed period is up, your monthly payment will go down even further. With a fixed-rate mortgage, you’d need to refinance to take advantage of lower rates.
- Rate could go up
- Monthly payment could increase
- Not protected from rate spikes
While ARMs can help you save money each month, they come with the risk that you’ll end up with less money to spend each month if your mortgage payment ultimately increases when the rate adjusts.
Many borrowers get ARMs with the intention that they’ll either sell or refinance before the fixed-rate period is over. But there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to do either.
Mason Whitehead, a Dallas-based branch manager for Churchill Mortgage, learned firsthand what the consequences of this can look like after he was unable to get out of his 5-year ARM.
“I did it because I knew I’d be selling it in three to four years and it would be fine,” Whitehead says. “But the market is hard to predict, and largely because of the housing bubble burst in 2008, I was still holding that property 10 years later and couldn’t sell it. All this being said, it’s critical you be prepared for the worst-case scenario and have the financial wherewithal to handle escalating payments, because it can become a reality when you least expect it.”
Is an ARM a good idea in 2023?
ARMs are generally only a good idea if rates are likely to drop by the time your rate would adjust, or if you’re confident you’ll be able to sell or refinance before it does.
Most major forecasts expect mortgage rates to trend down over the next couple of years. The Mortgage Bankers Association believes that 30-year fixed rates will fall to 6.1% by the end of 2024.
But mortgage rates are often unpredictable. They can be influenced by a variety of factors, including the economy, the Federal Reserve, and even natural disasters, geopolitical tensions, or, as we saw in 2020, pandemics.
If you’re considering an ARM, you should prepare for the worst-case scenario and make sure you can comfortably afford the mortgage even if your monthly payments increase.
“Borrowers should consider their financial situation and ability to absorb potential rate increases before getting an ARM,” says Mike Rhoads, owner of real estate investment company Rhoads Home Buyers. “They should also be aware of the terms and features of the ARM, including the index it is tied to, the margin, and any caps on interest rate adjustments.”
Your mortgage lender will be able to tell you how much your monthly payment could increase each time the rate adjusts, and the maximum amount you could ultimately end up paying.
Use Insider’s free mortgage calculator to see how much of a difference a lower rate could make in your monthly mortgage payment.
ARM frequently asked questions
What is the 5/1 ARM rate today?
ARM rates can fluctuate quite a bit from one day to the next, or even from hour to hour. Average 5/1 ARM rates were 7.29% last month.
Is a 7-year ARM a good idea right now?
ARM rates have been high in recent months, and 7-year ARM rates are often comparable to or even higher than similar fixed rates. So an ARM might not be the best deal right now.
What is the downside to getting an ARM?
The main downside of getting an ARM is the risk that your monthly payment could increase when the rate adjusts.