What is a 5-1 Arm Loan?

What you need to know about 5-1 adjustable rate mortgages?

Fixed and adjustable rate written on a note padA 5-1 ARM is an adjustable-rate mortgage that has a fixed interest rate for the first five years of the loan. After that, the interest rate can change annually for the remainder of the loan term. The "5" in the name of this type of mortgage refers to the number of years during which the interest rate will remain fixed. The "1" indicates that there will be one adjustment after that five-year period.

An adjustable-rate mortgage can be a good option if you plan to sell your house or refinance before the end of the initial fixed-rate period. If you think you may want to keep your home longer than seven or eight years, you may be better off with a traditional 30-year fixed mortgage.

The monthly mortgage payments are often times lower during the fixed-rate period of a hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage than a traditional 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. This is because the interest rate on a hybrid ARM is typically lower than that of a 30-year fixed rate mortgage.

However, it is important to remember that the interest rate on a hybrid ARM will adjust annually after the initial introductory period expires. So, if you are planning to stay in your home for less than five years, you may want to consider a traditional fixed-rate mortgage instead.

  • 5-1 hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages have an initial fixed rate for five years, followed by yearly rate adjustments.
  • When adjustable-rate mortgages modify, interest rates fluctuate based on their marginal rates and the indexes to which they are attached. During the initial phase, mortgage payments are often lower for homeowners.
  • Homeowners who seek certainty with their mortgage payments and interest charges may select a fixed-rate mortgage.

How Does a 5-1 ARM Work?

Nice kitchenThe 5-1 hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage may be the most common form of adjustable-rate mortgage, but it is not the only one. There are also 10/1, 7/1, 3/1 ARMs. The initial rate on these loans is fixed for three, seven, or ten years, after which it adjusts annually.

This mortgage, also known as a five-year fixed-period ARM or a five-year ARM, contains an adjustable interest rate based on an index plus a margin. The starting interest rate on a hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage may be much lower than a conventional fixed-rate mortgage. Most mortgage lenders offer at least one variation of these hybrid ARMs, with the 5-1 hybrid ARM being the most prevalent.

Other ARM arrangements exist, such the 5/5 and 5/6 ARMs, which likewise have a five-year introduction period followed by an annual or semiannual rate adjustment. Notably, 15-15 ARMs adjust once after 15 years and then remain fixed for the remaining loan term. Less often are the 2/28 and 3/27 ARMs.

In the first case, the fixed interest rate applies for only the first two years, followed by 28 years of variable rates; in the second case, the fixed rate applies for three years, followed by 27 years of variable rates. Some of these loans are modified every six months as opposed to annually.

5-1 Interest Rate Caps Explained

Modest suburban homeWhat will take place once the fixed-rate term ends?

After the 5-year fixed-rate period, the new interest rate is calculated by adding the published index rate to the lender-specified margin. Your lender will then recalculate your monthly payments based on the new rate and loan balance without modifying the mortgage term, so your mortgage payment may increase or decrease correspondingly.

Most adjustable rate mortgages feature a maximum rate cap that restricts the amount by which 5-year ARM rates can increase after the initial fixed period, as well as a lifetime rate restriction for the duration of the loan. After submitting an application for a loan, your lender will send you with a Loan Estimate that includes the rate information for your 5-year ARM.

5-1 ARM Example

When the marginal rates of ARMs move in tandem with the indices to which they are connected. A 5-1 hybrid ARM with a 3 percent margin and an index of 3 percent will adjust to a rate of 6 percent.

Nevertheless, the degree to which the fully-indexed interest rate on a 5-1 hybrid ARM can move is sometimes constrained by a limitation on interest rates. The completely indexed interest rate can be connected to a variety of indices, and while this amount fluctuates during the life of the loan, the margin remains constant.

With a 5-1 hybrid ARM, a borrower can save a considerable amount on their monthly payments. Assuming a home purchase price of $300,000 with a 20% down payment ($60,000), a borrower with very good or exceptional credit can save between 50 and 150 basis points on a loan and more than $100 per month in payments on a $240,000 loan.

 Obviously, this rate might increase; therefore, borrowers should anticipate an increase in their monthly payment, be prepared to sell their house if their rate increases, or be prepared to refinance.

When refinancing from an adjustable-rate mortgage to a fixed-rate mortgage, it is crucial to carefully analyze the new loan term, as it might have a major influence on the total interest paid to own the house.

5-1 ARM Advantages and Disadvantages

In the majority of circumstances, ARMs provide lower initial rates than conventional mortgages with fixed rates. These loans may be appropriate for buyers who want to sell their houses prior to the conclusion of the initial tenure. The 5-1 hybrid ARM is also advantageous for purchasers who want to refinance prior to the expiration of the promotional rate. However, hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages such as the 5-1 often have a higher interest rate than conventional adjustable-rate mortgages.

  • Lower initial rates than conventional fixed-rate mortgages
  • Interest rates may fall prior to the mortgage resetting, resulting in reduced monthly payments.
  • Beneficial for buyers who will reside in their properties for brief durations
  • Greater interest rates compared to conventional adjustable-rate mortgages
  • When mortgage rates alter, interest rates likely increase.
  • May become caught in unsustainable rate increases owing to personal circumstances or market forces

30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage vs. 5-1 ARM

A 5-1 hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage may be a viable option for certain homeowners. However, a fixed-rate mortgage may be preferable for some borrowers. The interest rate on a fixed-rate mortgage remains constant for the term of the loan. The rate is not related to an underlying benchmark or index rate and does not vary; the interest rate paid on the initial payment and the last payment is same.

For a particular type of homebuyer, a fixed-rate mortgage might be advantageous. If you value predictability and consistency in mortgage rates, for instance, you may prefer a fixed-rate loan over a 5-1 hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage. Comparing them side by side might make choosing a mortgage choice easier.

Should I Get a 5-1 ARM?

A 5-1 hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage might be a smart option for homeowners who do not intend to remain in the house for the long term or who are confident in their ability to refinance before the rate increases. Compared to a fixed-rate mortgage, a 5-1 hybrid ARM might save you more money over time if interest rates remain low and changes to the index rate are minimal.

However, it is essential to assess the viability of refinancing and where interest rates may be when you are ready to switch to a new loan. If interest rates rise, refinancing to a new fixed-rate loan or even an adjustable-rate mortgage may not result in significant interest savings.

If you do not want to refinance and do not intend to move, it is crucial to assess how a big increase in your monthly payment due to a rate modification will affect your budget. If the payment becomes unmanageable for your budget, you may be obliged to sell or refinance the home. And in the worst situation, you might face foreclosure if you fail to make the loan installments.

Pros of a 5-1 ARM

Pros and cons seesaw graphicDuring the initial fixed-rate period of a 5-year adjustable-rate mortgage, the interest rate and monthly payment are much lower.

If you expect to sell in fewer than six or seven years, a 5-1 adjustable-rate mortgage might be a wise alternative. In five years, these funds may be sufficient to purchase a new automobile or pay for one year of education.

Keep in mind that the National Association of Realtors (NAR) estimates the average length of ownership to be seven years. Younger purchasers tend to leave sooner, whereas older buyers prefer to remain longer.

Cons of a 5-1 ARM

The biggest drawback of an ARM is the possibility of interest rate increases. For instance, it is feasible that the interest rate on a 5-1 ARM with a 3 percent initial rate might climb as follows:

  1. Beginning sixth year 5 percent
  2. Beginning seventh year 7 percent
  3. Eighth through thirty-year span 8 percent

This does not imply that your ARM will increase; rather, it only indicates that the possibility exists.

How Do Lenders Qualify Me for a 5-1 ARM?

Loan officer looking at his computerIf the fully indexed rate or the maximum rate at the first adjustment is higher, the lender will use that one to determine whether or not you qualify for the loan. For instance, if your starting rate is 4.5 percent and the maximum amount that your first adjustment may go up to is 2 percent, you will need to demonstrate that you are qualified for the loan based on an interest rate of 6.5 percent.

Convertible ARM Explanation

A convertibility option is provided by some 5-1 adjustable-rate mortgage loans. This option enables you to switch to a fixed-rate mortgage prior to the expiration of the first fixed-rate period.

Spinning question markFAQs About 5-1 ARMs

Q. Are 5-1 ARM Loans Good?

A. 5-1 adjustable-rate mortgages have low rates, but they can change. If the rate increases more than 5% above the introductory rate over the life of the loan, you may have to pay a penalty.

5-1 ARMs are good for home buyers who plan to stay in their homes for just a few years. The low initial interest rate is ideal for someone who expects to sell their home or refinance within 5 years.

If you plan on staying in your home longer than 5 years, you may be better off with a conventional 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. The interest rate will be higher than it is with a 5-1 ARM, but it will remain fixed for the life of the loan.

Interest rate graphicIf you are considering a 5-1 ARM, make sure to shop around and compare offers from multiple lenders. Each lender will have different rates and terms, so it’s important to compare your options before choosing a loan.

Q. How Much Can a 5-1 Arm Increase?

A. A 5-1 ARM has a low initial interest rate for five years before it begins to adjust. The frequency of rate adjustments and the maximum amount that your interest rate can increase will depend on the terms of your loan.

The biggest benefit of a 5-1 ARM is the low initial interest rate. This can save you a significant amount of money over the life of your loan.

However, there is a risk that your interest rate could increase significantly after the five-year period. This could make your monthly payments unaffordable or put you at risk of defaulting on your loan.

If you are considering a 5-1 ARM, be sure to speak with a mortgage professional to determine if this type of loan is right for you.

Q. What are Rate Caps?

A. Rate caps are a type of protection that limits how much your interest rate can increase during the life of your loan. They can apply to adjustable-rate mortgages as well as other types of loans.

If you have an ARM, your interest rate will usually adjust at some point during the loan.

The terms of your loan determine the frequency of the adjustments. For example, your interest rate may adjust every year, every six months, or every month.

Rate caps protect you from big increases in your interest rate.

There are two types of rate caps: periodic and lifetime. Periodic rate limits the amount by which your interest rate may rise or fall during each adjustment period. Your interest rate increase over the course of the loan is limited by a lifetime rate cap.

Rate caps are important to consider when you're taking out an ARM. They can help you understand how much your monthly payments could increase and prevent you from being surprised by a large jump in your interest rate down the road.

Here's an example. The rates have really climbed recently, but you found a great deal on a house. The 5-1 interest rate is considerably lower than the fixed interest rate. But what happens if the interest rates keep rising? Hybrid loans come with a limiting interest rate cap.

The ARM typically, increases by two percentage points on the first adjustment (60 months later). Hopefully, interest rates come down during the first 5 years, and you'll be able to refinance to a lower interest rate. But if the interest rates spiral out of control, there is a lifetime cap. The lifetime cap is usually 5%. Your interest rate stays there until the next adjustment.

Q. Can I Refinance a 5-1 ARM Loan?

A. Yes, you can refinance a 5-1 ARM loan. However, it's important to remember that the interest rate on a 5-1 ARM loan can increase after the first five years, so you'll need to be prepared for that possibility. You should also compare the current interest rates available on fixed-rate loans before refinancing.

Q. What is a 5-1 Interest Only ARM?

A. A 5-1 interest, interest-only mortgage product that offers a lower interest rate than a traditional 30-year fixed mortgage product. With a 5-1 interest-only loan, the borrower only pays interest on the loan for the first five years. After the five-year period, the borrower begins to repay the principal and interest on the loan.

Read more questions and answers about conventional loans


A conventional or ARM loan may be the right choice for you if you're a first-time home buyer with good credit and a steady income. You can avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI) by making a down payment of at least 20% of the purchase price, which will also help keep your monthly payments more affordable. With an ARM loan, you'll have a lower interest rate for an initial period of time, which can save you money in the short term. Be sure to compare your options and shop around for the best rates before making a decision.

SOURCE: Consumer Handbook on Adjustable-rate Mortgages

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