What it is:
A teaser loan is usually an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) with an artificially low initial interest rate.
How it works/Example:
The interest rate on the benchmark (often the prime rate, but sometimes LIBOR, the one-year constant-maturity Treasury, or other benchmarks) plus an additional spread (which is also called the and is often based on the borrower's credit score). The benchmark plus the spread equals the interest rate on the loan; it is called the fully indexed rate. Some ARMs a discounted rate, also called a teaser rate, during the first year or so. This makes them teaser loans.
To understand how adjustable interest rates affect a borrower's payment, let's assume that a bank offers a $100,000 ARM to a potential borrower. The interest rate is plus 5% with a cap of 10%. If the prime rate is 3%, then the borrower's interest rate is 8% (5% + 3%), and the monthly payment is $733.77. If the prime rate increases to, say, 4%, then the loan's interest rate goes to 9% (5% + 4%), and the payment goes to $804.63.
In many cases, ARMs have caps: limits on how high (and sometimes how low) the interest rate can go, and how much they can move in any one year, month, or quarter. In some cases, the interest rate only adjust up -- that is, borrowers get no benefit if interest rates fall. Often, the strategy is to refinance the loan before the rate goes up too far.
Why it matters:
The idea behind teaser ARMs is to accept the risk (and the corresponding potential reward) that rates change favorably and thus benefit the borrower or the . For example, if a borrower takes a that currently carries a 7% interest rate, he is hoping that rates drop and his payments fall accordingly; the lender, on the other hand, is hoping that interest rates increase, which raises the amount of the loan generates (by increasing the borrower's payments). Because of this risk arrangement, ARMs often carry lower interest rates than fixed-rate mortgages, which in turn might allow borrowers to borrow more than they could under fixed-rate mortgages. A often exacerbates this .
As you can see, ARMs can have complex implications. Thus, as is the case with any or other loan, borrowers must be sure to read and understand the lender's documentation and contemplate the implications of changes in interest rates. Borrowers should be sure they can handle the worst-case scenario of being forced to make the highest mortgage payments allowed. are legally required to disclose how high the borrower's monthly payment might go.