PenFed Just Invented a New Mortgage Program: The 15-Year ARM

February 18, 2014 2 Comments »
PenFed Just Invented a New Mortgage Program: The 15-Year ARM

If you’re not satisfied with the selection of mortgage programs offered by your bank or local lender, you might want to consider the new 15/15 Adjustable-Rate Mortgage now being offered by PenFed for a limited time.

Yes, you heard that right. The Pentagon Federal Credit Union just launched, or in their own words, “invented,” an adjustable-rate mortgage that doesn’t make its first adjustment for 15 years.

And once it does adjust for the very first time, it never adjusts again. Talk about a gamble, assuming you still have your mortgage in the year 2030.

The 15-Year ARM Starts at 3.75%

10-year yield graph

PenFed’s new promotional loan program has a start rate (teaser rate) of 3.75%, which is fixed for the first 15 years of the 30-year loan. Then the rate adjusts to whatever the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield is plus a margin of one percent, rounded to the nearest eighth.

So based on today’s 10-year yield, you’d be looking at a rate of around 3.65% once it becomes adjustable.

Of course, in 15 years that could change significantly. Take a look at the chart of the 10-year yield above.

It fell as low as 1.40% in mid-2012, but has since risen to around 2.71%. Go back to before the mortgage crisis and it was closer to 5%, meaning the fully indexed rate could easily be around 6% or higher.

So if yields on Treasuries do increase, which they most likely will over the next 15 years, you’ll be stuck with a higher rate at the time the 15/15 ARM adjusts.

And it won’t adjust again; you’ll be stuck with that rate for the remaining 15 years of the 30-year loan.

However, the yield could also fall or remain constant, seeing that 15 years is a very long time, so your rate could actually improve.

Just note that there is both a cap and a floor; the adjusted rate cannot be more than 6% above the initial rate (9.75%) and cannot be lower than the floor rate of 1%.

Does the 15/15 ARM Make Any Sense?

Before the housing crisis reared its ugly head, you could get your hands on all types of “innovative” loan products.

Of course, most of them just got homeowners into trouble because they highlighted the good and ignored the bad.

The 15/15 ARM certainly isn’t the highest risk adjustable-rate mortgage out there, but it could be a bad move if the 10-year yield surges over the next decade and change.

Still, with a reduced, fixed rate for 15 years, you could save a decent chunk of money before refinancing or selling prior to that first adjustment.

Considering rates on the 30-year fixed mortgage are close to about 4.625% at the moment, you’d be getting a rate nearly 1% below current levels.

On a $200,000 loan amount, that’s a savings of roughly $100 a month, or $18,000 over 15 years. Not to mention you’ll pay less interest and own more of your home after that time.

So it’s actually a worthwhile loan program if you’re willing to take a little risk. And you could even pay the extra $100 a month to principal and pay off the mortgage even faster.

The 15/15 ARM is only available on primary residences and second homes, but works for both purchases and refinances. There is a 1% loan origination fee and loan amounts of up to $750,000 are available.

For the record, the company also has a 5/5 ARM, which as the name suggests, is fixed for the first five years before adjusting every five years after that. The interest rate on that loan program starts at 3%.

Also check out the HarmonyLoan, which is an adjustable-rate mortgage you can reset with the click of a mouse.

2 Comments

  1. Jaqui Butler July 15, 2014 at 2:22 pm -

    Do you know if you can sign up with PenFed as a broker?

  2. Colin Robertson July 15, 2014 at 2:33 pm -

    Jaqui,

    Not sure if they have a wholesale department themselves, but they might have wholesale partners you can work with to offer such products.

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