Mortgage Q&A: “Do mortgage payments increase?”
While this sounds like a no-brainer question, it’s actually a little more complicated than it appears.
You see, there a number of different reasons why a mortgage payment can increase, aside from the obvious interest rate change. But let’s start with the obvious and go from there.
And yes, even if you have a fixed-rate mortgage your monthly payment can increase.
While that might sound like bad news, it’s good to know what’s coming so you can prepare accordingly.
Mortgage Payments Can Increase with Interest Rate Adjustments
- If you have an ARM your monthly payment can go up or down
- This is possible each time it adjusts, whether every six months or annually
- To avoid this payment surprise, simply choose a fixed-rate mortgage instead
- FRMs are actually pricing very close to ARMs anyway so it could be in your best interest just to stick with a 15- or 30-year fixed
Here’s the easy one. If you happen to have an adjustable-rate mortgage, your mortgage rate has the ability to adjust both up or down, as determined by the interest rate caps.
It can move up or down once it initially becomes adjustable (after the initial teaser rate period ends), periodically (every year or two times a year) and throughout the life of the loan (by a certain maximum number, such as 5% up or down).
For example, if you take out a 5/1 ARM, it’s first adjustment will take place after 60 months.
At this time, it could rise fairly significantly depending on the caps in place, which might be 1-2% higher than the start rate.
So if your ARM started at 3%, it might jump to 5% at its first adjustment.
On a $300,000 loan amount, we’re talking about a monthly payment increase of nearly $350. Ouch!
Simply put, when the interest rate on your mortgage goes up, your monthly mortgage payments increase. Pretty standard stuff here.
To avoid this potential pitfall, simply go with a fixed-rate mortgage instead of an ARM and you won’t ever have to worry about it.
Or you can refinance your home loan before your first interest rate adjustment to another ARM. Or go with a fixed-rate mortgage instead.
Or simply sell your home before the adjustable period begins. Plenty of options really.
Mortgage Payments Increase When the Interest-Only Period Ends
- Your payment can also surge higher if you have an interest-only loan
- At that time it becomes fully-amortizing, meaning both principal and interest payments must be made
- It’s doubly expensive because you’ve been deferring interest for years prior to that
- This explains why these loans are a lot less popular today and considered non-QM loans
Another common reason for mortgage payments increasing is when the interest-only period ends, an issue that was common prior to the last housing crisis.
Typically, an interest-only home loan becomes fully amortized after 10 years.
In other words, after a decade you won’t be able to make just the interest-only payment.
You will have to make principal and interest payments to ensure the loan balance is actually paid down.
And guess what – the fully amortized payment will be significantly higher than the interest-only payment, especially if you deferred principal payments for a full 10 years.
Simply put, you’ll be paying the entire beginning loan balance in 20 years instead of 30, assuming the loan term was for 30 years, because interest-only payments mean the original loan amount remains untouched.
This can result in a big monthly payment increase, forcing many borrowers to refinance their mortgages.
Just hope interest rates are favorable when this time comes or you could be in for a rude awakening.
Mortgage Payments Increase When Taxes or Insurance Go Up
- If your mortgage has an impound account your total housing payment could go up
- An impound account results in homeowners insurance and property taxes being paid monthly
- If those costs rise from year to year your total payment due could also increase
- You’ll receive an escrow analysis annually letting you know if/when this may happen
Then there’s the issue of property taxes and homeowners insurance, assuming you have an impound account.
Even if you’ve got a fixed-rate mortgage, your mortgage payment can increase if the cost of property taxes and insurance rise, and they’re included in your monthly housing payment.
And guess what, these costs do tend to go up year after year, just like everything else.
A mortgage payment is often expressed using the acronym PITI, which stands for principal, interest, taxes, and insurance.
With a fixed-rate mortgage, the principal and interest amounts won’t change throughout the life of the loan. That’s the good news.
However, there are cases when both the homeowners insurance and property taxes can increase, though this only affects your mortgage payments if they are escrowed.
Keep an eye out for an annual escrow analysis which breaks down how much money you’ve got in your account, along with the projected cost of your taxes and insurance.
It may say something like “escrow account has a shortage,” and as such, your new payment will be X to cover that deficit.
You can typically elect to begin making the higher mortgage payment to cover the shortfall, or pay a lump sum to boost your escrow account reserves so your monthly payment won’t change.
Fortunately these annual payment fluctuations will probably be minor relative to an ARM’s interest rate resetting or an interest-only period ending.
Ultimately, it’s usually quite nominal because the difference is spread out over 12 months and typically not all that large to begin with.
But it’s still good to be prepared and budget accordingly as your housing payments will likely rise over time.
The takeaway here is to consider all housing costs before determining if you should buy a home, and make sure you know how much you can afford well before beginning your property search.
You’d be surprised at how the costs can pile up once you factor in the insurance, taxes, and everyday maintenance, along with the unexpected.
At the same time, mortgage payments have the ability to go down for a number of reasons as well, so it’s not all bad news.
And remember, thanks to our friend inflation, your monthly mortgage payment might seem like a drop in the bucket a decade from now, while renters may not see such relief.
Read more: When do mortgage payments start?