A balloon mortgage, also called a reset mortgage, offers lower interest rates with the option in 5 or 7 years to pay off the balance or resent the loan. Considered more risky than an ARM since interest rates can jump significantly, it is a valid option for those expecting to move or interest rates to drop.
Balloon Mortgage Features
Balloon mortgages are based on a 30 year amortization schedule, but you only pay those payments for 5 or 7 years depending on your loan’s terms. At the end of that period, you are required to make a balloon payment for the rest of the principal or resent the mortgage at current interest rates. Some financing companies also offer the option of refinancing the home loan.
With its unique interest rate structure, you can qualify to borrow more than a with a fixed rate mortgage. Balloon mortgages also have interest rates lower than a traditional home loan.
Balloon Mortgage Numbers
Balloon mortgages, like ARMs, use numbers to describe terms. The first number is the number of years until you reset the loan or make the balloon payment. The second number equals the rest of the loan term. Together both numbers equal the loan’s amortization schedule.
So a 7/23 mortgage means that you have 7 years until the balloon payment is due, 23 year’s worth of principal. Adding the two numbers together, your loan is amortized for 30 years.
In order to reset your loan, you have to qualify by still occupying the home, having no liens against the property, and having made on time monthly payments for the last year. If you don’t qualify to reset the mortgage, you may be able to still refinance the loan.
Balloon Mortgage Considerations
Balloon mortgages don’t have the fluctuating interest rates of an ARM, but they don’t have the caps to safeguard against extremely high future rates. You may also find that due to a reverse in your financial situation you many not qualify to reset or refinance your home, and have to sell it to meet the balloon payment. In the end you are trading security of a fixed rate for lower interest payments.