Kathy O'Neal
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How to Submit an Offer Below the Asking Price Without Spooking the Seller

Going Low: How to Submit an Offer Below the Asking Price Without Spooking the SellerFor those looking for a home in the Chantilly or surrounding area.  You’ve found it: A large new home for your family. It’s in the area that you love, with the perfect architectural style and lots of room for entertaining guests. It would have been perfect for you, but there’s only one problem – you’re not quite ready to pay the price the seller is asking for. You’ll have to put in an offer below the seller’s asking price – a risky move.

Although you will be rolling the dice with an offer below asking price, there are ways that you can increase the likelihood that your offer will be successful. Before you submit your offer, use these three strategies to make it more appealing.

Work Out Other Terms In The Seller’s Favor

If you’re going to ask for a lower selling price, it helps to show that you’re willing to compromise on other terms – that way, you come across as a reasonable human being and not a bargain hunter. By offering to give the seller the better deal on other terms, you’re showing that you want to close a sale – and the seller will see you making an effort to come to an agreement and respond in kind.

There are several ways to do this. When you submit your offer, see if you can negotiate an arrangement that has you paying the closing costs or a closing date that works better for the seller. Or, offer to make the down payment in cash or give the seller a larger deposit.

Arm Yourself With Facts To Make Your Case

If the home you want to buy is priced well above fair market value, you can easily use that to your advantage and turn it into a benefit for the seller. First, you’ll want to look up property values for similar homes in the area. You should also investigate how long it takes homes in that area to sell and the difference between the average asking and average selling price in the area.

If you can show the seller that their asking price is above their neighborhood’s average sale price or that their home has been on the market longer than the average home (or both), then you can make a strong case for a lower offer.

Submitting an offer below asking price can work, but it’s not something that should simply be done on a whim. It takes careful planning and a great strategy to actually win a bid if you’re coming in below asking price.

By the way, if you are considering buying (or selling) a home in the Chantilly or surrounding area, please know we how we can help. We are always here for you. Contact us .

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: Comments Off on How to Submit an Offer Below the Asking Price Without Spooking the Seller

3 Reasons Why the Cost of Title Insurance is Worth the Investment

3 Reasons Why the Cost of Title Insurance is Worth the InvestmentTitle insurance is one of the few types of protection policies available to homebuyers and one that is often overlooked because of its optional nature.

Because title insurance is purchased simultaneously with the home, it can be very easy to forego when looked at alongside all the additional fees that are associated with purchasing property.

This is typicaly not advisable, as title insurance is one of the smartest forms of protection a homeowner can buy. Here are just three reasons why every purchaser should get title insurance.

It’s The Best Protection Against Fraud

Title insurance protects the owner of a home from any claim made against their property, whether or not they are responsible. These include unpaid mortgage balances on the home, an improper foreclosure or any form of real estate fraud perpetrated by the seller.

Fraud is more prevalent now than ever before and has started to gain momentum in real estate as well. Forgeries are easier to create in the electronic age and criminals take advantage of today’s ‘do-it-yourself’ attitude to sell property they don’t actually own to unsuspecting victims.

The Insurer Performs An Exhaustive Title Search

Countless records are now made public online for low one-time payments to access them. But does anybody really know what they should be looking for? Title insurers are experts at finding anything suspicious with a home and researching exhaustively to make sure everything about the transaction is legitimate.

And if it’s not, the insurance still covers the buyer for any losses incurred if they are ordered out of their new home should a claim be made against it. Then they will research the claim to make sure it isn’t a fraudulent one.

Title Insurance Is A One-Time Fee

Although it is a large fee, title insurance only needs to be paid for once. Unlike other insurance policies that are either monthly or annually, title insurance is a one-time fee that is acquired at the time of closing. Most mortgage lenders require that their title insurance policy is paid for by the borrower anyway, so it’s not a giant leap to take out your own policy the same time.

Title insurance will also protect against mortgage fraud or any unpaid mortgages the home already has. Although title insurance is strongly recommended, it is a good idea to speak with a professional about it so that any questions you have may be answered.

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: Comments Off on 3 Reasons Why the Cost of Title Insurance is Worth the Investment

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 31, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week August 31 2015Last week’s economic news included several reports related to housing. The Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index for June rose to 4.50 percent as compared to May’s reading of 4.40 percent. Denver, Colorado was the only city to post double-digit year-over-year growth. FHFA also released its House Price Index for June. Home prices for properties associated with mortgages owned or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac rose at a year-over-year rate of 5.60 percent in June as compared to May’s reading of 5.70 percent.

New Home Sales, Pending Home Sales Rise in July

Commerce Department data revealed that new home sales increased in July to a year-over-year reading of 507,000 against expectations of 510,000 new home sales and June’s revised reading of 481,000 new homes sold. The original reading for June was 482,000 new homes sold. New home sales provided a strong indicator of recovering housing markets as July’s reading was 25 percent higher than it was one year ago.

Pending home sales moved into positive territory in July after June’s reading of -1.80 percent. Pending home sales for July grew by 0.50 percent. Pending home sales are an indicator of future closings, so this is good news as the peak buying and selling season wanes.

The national median home price rose to $285,900 in July, which was two percent higher year-over-year.

Mortgage Rates, New Unemployment Claims Fall

Mortgage rates fell across the board last week. Freddie Mac reported that the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by none basis points to 3.8r percent; the rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage also fell by nine basis points to 3.06 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was four basis points lower at 2.90 percent. Discount points for fixed rate mortgages were unchanged at an average of 0.60 percent and fell from an average of 0.50 percent to 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Weekly jobless claims were also lower last week with 271,000 new claims filed as compared to expectations of 271,000 new claims filed and the previous week’s reading of 277,000 new claims filed. Last week’s reading was the 25th consecutive week of new jobless claims readings under the benchmark of 300,000 new claims filed; this is the longest stretch for new jobless claims under the 300,000 new claims benchmark in more than fifteen years.

New jobless claims rose by 1000 new claims to a seasonally adjusted average of 272,500 according to the four-week average. Analysts note that the four week average smooths out volatility that can occur with week-to-week readings.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report, ADP and the federal Non-farm Payrolls reports. The national unemployment rate will be released along with regularly scheduled reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: Comments Off on What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 31, 2015

How to Design a Modern, Luxurious Home Inside of an Older Piece of Real Estate

How to Design a Modern, Luxurious Home Inside of an Older Piece of Real Estate Newer properties here in Chantilly may be infused with built-in designer touches that give them an instant sense of luxury, but older homes may lack many of these built-in features. Whether buying or renovating an older property, many people are interested in learning how to instill modern luxury in older property. The good news is that this is easier than it sounds, and it can be accomplished by following a few simple tips.

Make Thoughtful Upgrades

It may not be cost-effective or reasonable to upgrade the entire space with an extensive renovation, but making a few thoughtful upgrades can yield fabulous results. The light fixtures, faucets and hardware in the space should receive attention first, and homeowners should choose a modern finish that goes well with the rest of the home. If funds permit, consider upgrading the counter tops, sinks and bathtubs to further add luxury and modern style to the style.

Choose The Right Fabrics

When decorating the home, it is important to choose fabrics that speak to the luxury that is desired in the space. While some affordable materials have a luxurious look, it may be necessary to invest in premium materials like leather or upgraded upholstery in some areas to achieve the desired results. Think about the use of color, and layer fabrics for a truly upscale, finished look in the space.

Take Advantage Of Antique Charm

Most older homes have a special antique charm, and homeowners may have better results when working with this charm rather than trying to remove it from the space. Antiques can be incorporated with modern pieces to create a historic, classic or even rustic look to a home. Consider which aspects of the existing décor to highlight, such as gorgeous wood floors or an antique banister, and celebrate these areas while also including modern fabrics and other decorative touches to create the luxurious, modern look that is desired.

Decorating an older home can be challenging for many reasons, but it is possible to instill a sense of modern luxury into the space without a complete renovation. Some smaller remodeling efforts may be needed for the best results, and they can be incorporated with these tips to provide a lovely look that homeowners can truly fall in love with. Those who are thinking about fully renovating their older home may want to speak with their trusted mortgage professional for more information about refinancing their mortgage.

By the way, if you are considering either buying or selling a home in the Chantilly or surrounding area, please know we how we can help. We are always here for you. Contact us.

 

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: Comments Off on How to Design a Modern, Luxurious Home Inside of an Older Piece of Real Estate

Buying a New Home? Three Tips on How to Get the Best Mortgage Rate

Buying a New Home in 2015? Three Tips on How to Get the Best Mortgage RateBuying a new home is one of the biggest steps that a person can take. Prior to taking out a home loan, you want to ensure that you get the best interest rate for your mortgage. The lower your rate is, the less you’ll pay over the long run. In today’s blog post we’ll share three key tips that will help you get the best possible mortgage rate.

Tip 1: Look For Special Programs

The Federal Housing Administration, better known as the FHA, offers a program designed for those looking at buying homes. This program lets applicants apply for loans and get access to better interest rates. The FHA guarantees that loan and agrees to pay off the funds if the borrower defaults.

The USDA can also help those interested in purchasing homes in rural areas. This can include farmland, ranches and homes located in smaller towns across the country. The USDA developed this program as a way to increase the population in certain areas.

Other programs are available through HUD, especially for those who never owned a home before. HUD is intended to help new homeowners buy homes in underdeveloped and up-and-coming areas. There are also special programs open for those who work as teachers, firefighters and in other positions that help the community at large.

Tip 2: Request Quotes

Not requesting quotes is one of the biggest mistakes that new shoppers make. Did you know that your interest rate can drop by a few percentage points or more just by comparison shopping? Lenders use different criteria when determining who can borrow money and the amount charged, and comparing those quotes can help you get the best fit for your situation.

Tip 3: Improve Your Credit Before Applying

Speaking of credit, one of the biggest factors that determines your interest rate is your credit score. A credit score of 700 or higher will get you a better interest rate than if you had a score of 650 or less. Improving your score before applying is one of the best ways to get a good rate.

Paying down your debt is an easy way to improve your score, but you can also pay your bills on time to get a better score. To learn more about new home financing, improving your credit score and interest rates available to you, be sure to contact your trusted mortgage professional.

By the way, our Search Tool will help you find and locate properties of interest all over Northern Virginia. Kathy is always available to help you with your home search and/or home sale!

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: Comments Off on Buying a New Home? Three Tips on How to Get the Best Mortgage Rate

Case-Shiller: Home Prices Continue to Outpace Inflation

You Ask, We Answer: How the New FICO Score System Might Impact a Typical Mortgage BorrowerDenver, Colorado continues to woo homebuyers as home prices rose by 10.20 percent as of June according to the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index. The Mile-High City was the only city included in the index that posted double-digit year-over-year growth in June. San Francisco, California posted a 9.50 percent year-over-year gain in home prices and Dallas, Texas rounds out the top three cities posting highest year-over-year home price growth with a reading of 8.20 percent.

Denver’s home prices were impacted by the city’s rapidly expanding economy and demand for homes coupled with a slim supply of homes for sale. According to the National Association of Realtors®, there is approximately one month’s inventory of homes available in Denver as compared to the national average of five months.

Cities experiencing the least year-over-year growth in home prices according to the 20-City Home Price Index were Chicago, Illinois with a year-over-year growth rate of 1.40 percent, Washington D.C. with a year-over-year reading of 1.60 percent in home price growth and New York, New York with a reading of 2.80 percent growth in home prices year-over-year.

The 20-City Index indicated national home prices grew by five percent year-over-year in June, with a month-to-month increase of one percent from May to June.

Detroit Leads Gains in Month-to-Month Home Prices

Detroit, Michigan led month-over-month home price growth with a May to June reading of 1.80 percent. Cleveland, Ohio and Portland Oregon posted month-to-month gains of 1.50 percent followed by Atlanta, Georgia and Denver Colorado; each city posted month-to-month home price gains of 1.30 percent.

As economic conditions continue to improve, prospective homebuyers face obstacles including tight mortgage approval standards and home prices growing at approximately twice the rate of inflation.

FHFA: Home Prices Dip in June

The Federal Housing Finance Agency reported that home prices associated with mortgages owned or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac slipped to a year-over year growth rate of 5.60 percent in June as compared to May’s reading of 5.70 percent. The agency also reported that home prices rose by 1.20 percent during the second quarter of 2015; this was the sixteenth consecutive quarterly increase in home prices.

FHFA Principal Economist Andrew Leventis noted that home prices continued to exceed inflation and were rising in spite of higher mortgage rates.

In general, analysts regard longer term readings as more reliable than month-to-month readings that reflect more volatility based on day-to-day influences.

By the way, if you are considering either buying or selling a home in the Chantilly or surrounding area, please know we how we can help. We are always here for you. Contact us .

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: Comments Off on Case-Shiller: Home Prices Continue to Outpace Inflation

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 24, 2015

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week August 24 2015Last week’s economic events included a number of readings on housing related topics. The National Association of Home Builders released its report on builder confidence in housing markets, Housing starts reached their highest level since the great recession, and existing home sales exceeded expectations and the prior month’s reading. The Federal Reserve released minutes for its most recent FOMC meeting, which indicated that while a majority of FOMC members are leaning toward raising the Fed’s target federal funds rate, concerns over certain aspects of the economy continue to keep the Fed from citing a date for raising its target interest rate.

Home Builder Confidence Nears Highest Reading in 10 Years

The National Association of Home Builders reported its highest level of builder confidence in housing market conditions since November of 2005. August’s reading was 61 as compared to an expected reading of 59 and July’s reading of 60. Any reading over 50 indicates that housing market conditions are good. NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said that August’s readings were consistent with builder expectations of gradual improvement in overall housing market conditions. Builder confidence in current market conditions rose by one point to a reading of 61; confidence in buyer foot traffic in new housing developments rose 2 points to 45 and the reading for expected home sales conditions over the next six months was unchanged at a reading of 70.

Builder confidence as shown by the three-month rolling average indicated that builder confidence increased by three points for a reading of 63 for the West; the Midwest also posted a gain of three points for a reading of 58. The South posted a two point gain in builder confidence for a reading of 63. In the Northeast, builder confidence held steady at 46.

Existing Home Sales Hit New Post-Recession High in July

According to the National Association of Realtors®, sales of pre-owned homes reached a new post-recession record in July. Sales of previously owned homes rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.59 million sales as compared to expectations of 5.48 million sales and June’s reading of 5.48 million sales. Sales of existing homes have risen for three consecutive months and are 10.30 percent higher year-over-year. Higher home prices are helping homeowners move up to larger homes, but analysts said that first-time buyers are still struggling to buy due to strict mortgage requirements and high demand for homes.

Commerce Department: Housing Starts Higher, Building Permits Lower

The Commerce Department reported that June housing starts increased from 1.20 million in May to 1.21 million in June; this is a month-to-month increase of 0.20 percent. Economists had expected a dip in housing starts to a rate of 1.185 million on an annual basis. Single family housing starts rose by 12.90 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 782,000 starts.

Building permits slipped in July by 16.30 percent to an annual rate of 1.29 million permits issued. Permits for single family homes, which account for nearly 75 percent of permits issued, fell by 1.90 percent to an annual rate of 679,000 permits issued. Demand for multi-family homes such as condos and apartments is rising as would-be home buyers sit on the sidelines and many millennials prefer to rent. In spite of these factors the rate of building permits issued rose by 7.50 percent year-over-year.

Building permits issued rose by 7.70 percent in the South, and rose by 20 percent in the Midwest. In the West, permits issued declined by 3.10 percent in July, while the Northeast posted a decline of 27.50 percent in building permits issued. This was not a surprise as builders rushed to take out permits before a tax credit expired in June.

Mortgage Rates Mixed

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates fell for fixed rate mortgages and ticked upward for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by one basis point to 3.93 percent. 15-year fixed mortgage rates fell by two basis points to 3.15 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by one basis point to 2.94 percent. Discount points were unchanged across the board at 0.60 percent for 30 and 15-year fixed rates and 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic news includes the Case-Shiller 10 and 20 city home price index reports, FHFA’s house price report for home sales connected with mortgages owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and pending home sales. Core inflation numbers will also be released; this is significant as the Fed has set 2.0 percent annual inflation as one of its indicators for raising the Federal funds rate. Freddie Mac’s survey of average mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims will be released on Thursday, and this week wraps up with the consumer sentiment report on Friday.

By the way, our Search Tool  will help you find and locate properties of interest all over Northern Virginia. Kathy is always available to help you with your home search!

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: Comments Off on What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 24, 2015

3 Handy Tips That Will Prevent Serious Stress when Buying and Selling a Northern Virginia Home at the Same Time

3 Handy Tips That Will Prevent Serious Stress when Buying and Selling a Home at the Same TimeIf you’re in the process of simultaneously buying and selling a Northern Virginia home, you may be in for the most stressful experience of your life. One UK-based real estate survey of over two thousand people found that buying and selling a house is more stressful than divorce, bankruptcy, a death in the family, becoming a parent for the first time, and even planning a wedding!

It’s not easy, but staying calm will help you to plan for your upcoming home purchase and sale and make the process easier. So how can you avoid the stress? Here are three strategies that will keep you calm, no matter what may happen.

Have A Thorough Plan In Place…

Much of the stress that you’ll experience will probably be the result of poor planning. You may feel stressed if you don’t have enough time to move or if you have to pay mortgages on two homes because your old home isn’t selling fast enough.

Before you get too far into the buying and selling process, talk with your trusted mortgage professional and ensure you have a solid financial plan in place for how you’ll manage buying and selling at the same time. Leave a time and expense buffer for unexpected complications – even if nothing goes wrong, it’s still nice to know you have some room to work with.

…But Be Ready To Improvise If Things Go Sideways

There are a number of ways that buying and selling at the same time might result in complications. Poor timing might mean you need to move out before you have a home to move into, or it might mean you don’t have the money for your new home if your old home hasn’t sold. Be prepared to rent a hotel room, take out a short-term loan, or move your belongings into storage if the sale doesn’t go according to plan.

Talk Out Your Problems With Loved Ones

In times of stress, it’s helpful to turn to friends and family for a helping hand. Studies have shown that having a strong social support network can mitigate the effects of stress, and even the Mayo Clinic suggests reaching out to loved ones when you feel overwhelmed. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends for emotional support, and whenever you have an opportunity to socialize, take it – you’ll find it easier to handle stress after a fun night out with friends.

Buying and selling a home at the same time is bound to be stressful, but working with an experienced mortgage professional and having a good financial plan in place can minimize the agony. Call your trusted mortgage professional to learn how you can successfully manage your finances while buying and selling a home at the same time.

By the way, if you are considering either buying or selling a home in the Chantilly or surrounding area, please know we how we can help. We are always here for you. Contact us.

 

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: Comments Off on 3 Handy Tips That Will Prevent Serious Stress when Buying and Selling a Northern Virginia Home at the Same Time

Buying a Chantilly Investment Property? 3 Key Home Features That Will Help Ensure You Turn a Profit

Buying an Investment Property? 3 Key Home Features That Will Help Ensure You Turn a ProfitIf you’re entering the Chantilly real estate investment market for the first time, you’re embarking on a great adventure – and with a solid plan, you can turn a tidy profit on your investment.

The key to a successful real estate investment is choosing the right property. A great property will reap dividends for years to come. Look for these three features in your next investment property and you’ll have no trouble finding one that turns a profit.

Location: More Important Than You Think

The location of your investment property will be critical in determining how much you earn on it and how long you’re able to keep tenants. And as the saying goes, you can change the color of the walls, you can change the type of flooring, and you can change the layout of the home, but you can’t change the location. So before you do anything else, make sure your new investment property is in a good location.

High cash flow investment properties tend to share certain location characteristics. They tend to be in neighborhoods with great schools and great amenities like pools, parks, movie theaters, and public transit. They also tend to be in an area with quiet, low-traffic, well-kept streets. Great neighborhoods have a low crime rate and don’t mix housing types.

Average Rent Price & Vacancy Rate: Look For Marketability

Aside from local amenities, you’ll also want to consider the average vacancy rate and rent price in your neighborhood. If you can’t cover your costs by charging the neighborhood’s average rent, then the home is a poor investment.

Keep an eye on vacancies in the neighborhood. If there are a high number of vacancies in the area, it could mean that the area’s rental market is seasonal or that renters are no longer interested in it. A low-vacancy area will allow you to charge more rent, and you’ll be more likely to find renters.

Floor Plan: Know The Trends And Buy Accordingly

There are a lot of things you can change if you don’t like your home, but the floor plan is a challenge to rearrange. That means in order to make your property competitive on the market, you’ll want to choose a property with a modern floor plan. Watch the trends and buy a home with a floor plan that’s in demand – you’ll have an easier time finding tenants.

Buying an investment property is a great choice for smart investors, but it’s important to make sure you are in the right position to turn a profit. An experienced mortgage professional can help keep your costs down on your mortgage so that your profits stay high. Contact your trusted mortgage professional today to learn more about what mortgages would work best for your situation.

By the way, if you are considering  buying an investment property here in the Chantilly or surrounding area, please know we how we can help. We are always here for you. Contact us .

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: Comments Off on Buying a Chantilly Investment Property? 3 Key Home Features That Will Help Ensure You Turn a Profit

Understanding the “Adjustable Rate Mortgage” (ARM) and How This Type of Mortgage Works

Understanding the Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM)Some good information for our Chantilly area friends and beyond:

When applying for a new home loan, there are several different types of mortgage programs available to most applicants. While there are various home loan programs to choose from, the most significant difference between the various options relates to a fixed rate mortgage or an adjustment rate mortgage. Understanding what an adjustable rate mortgage, or ARM, is in comparison to a fixed rate mortgage can help applicants make a more informed decision about their mortgage plans.

What is an Adjustable Rate Mortgage?

A fixed rate mortgage is one with an interest rate fixed for the entire term length. This means that a home loan with a 30-year term has an interest rate that will remain the same for the full 30 years, and this also means that the mortgage payments will remain the same over 30 years. On the other hand, an ARM will have an adjustable rate that will fluctuate periodically over the life of the loan, and the mortgage payment will also fluctuate as a result.

How is an ARM Beneficial?

There are several benefits associated with an ARM. For example, the initial interest rate and related mortgage payment are typically lower than with a fixed rate mortgage. In addition, if rates decrease over the life of the loan, the mortgage payment will lower as a result without the need to refinance to take advantage of the lower rate.

Before Applying for an ARM

Before applying for an adjustable rate mortgage, there are a few points that the applicant should keep in mind. Just as the interest rate may go down over the life of the loan, the rate and the mortgage payment may increase. The loan applicant should ensure that the upper limit for the interest rate and mortgage payment will be affordable for their personal budget before applying for this type of loan.

Each loan program available to a mortgage applicant has its pros and cons, and this holds true for an adjustable rate mortgage as well. Understanding how each loan program works and what the benefits and drawbacks for each are can help an applicant make an informed decision when applying for a mortgage. Those who are interested in applying for a new mortgage for a purchase or a refinance in the coming days or weeks may reach out to a mortgage broker to inquire about the different loan programs available.

By the way, our Search Tool will help you find and locate properties of interest all over Northern Virginia. Kathy is always available to help you with your home search and/or home sale!

 

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: Comments Off on Understanding the “Adjustable Rate Mortgage” (ARM) and How This Type of Mortgage Works