**Evaluating Combining
Your Mortgage and Home Equity Loan**

If
you are like many, you have used an increase in the value of your home
and the equity you have built up as a source of borrowing through a
home equity loan. Home equity loans have been attractive because they
are relatively simple, flexible, usually only require payments of monthly
interest and provide tax benefits.

However,
most home equity loans have adjustable interest rates and your rate
may have risen since you borrowed with your home equity loan. In fact,
you may now find yourself in a position where the interest rate on your
home equity loan is higher than the rate on your mortgage or even higher
than the rates currently available on new mortgages.

**Consider
Consolidating Your Mortgage and Home Equity Loan**

As with any review of your mortgage, you should consider rates, types
of mortgages, monthly payments, costs of refinancing and how long you
plan to stay in your home. With a home equity loan, you also need to
remember that usually the required monthly payment is interest only
and that the interest rate may change based on changes in overall interest
rates.

Here
is a calculator to help you compare your current monthly payments with
those from a new mortgage that combines the balances of your existing
mortgage and home equity loans.

Interest
is compounded monthly. This calculator is to be used for estimation
purposes only. The financial institution is not responsible for its
accuracy and the results are not guaranteed.

As
you look at these results, there are be a few things that you will probably
notice:

- Even though
the interest rates on shorter term fixed rate mortgages may be lower,
the monthly payments are probably higher. This is because the amount
of principal payment each month is larger. You are paying down the
mortgage faster.
- Usually, Arms
with shorter term initial rate periods (for example, 1 and 3 years)
usually have lower rates and lower monthly payments. This is due
to the "yield curve" sloping upward with longer maturities.
Longer term loans have higher rates.

Even
though shorter term Arms and potentially balloon mortgages offer lower
monthly payments, it is important that to understand that rates on Arms
can increase after the initial period and that the entire balance of
a balloon mortgage comes due at the end of the mortgage period. If you
are considering an ARM or balloon mortgage, be sure that you would be
able to afford a higher monthly mortgage payment if your rate increases.
Here is a calculator that can help you evaluate the impact of increasing
mortgage rates.

**Other
Issues to Consider**

- The size of
your mortgage payment should only be one part of your mortgage decision
making process.
- If "paying
off" your mortgage or significantly reducing your total debt
level is important, a shorter term fixed rate mortgage with a 20
or 15 year term may be right for you.
- If you plan
to live in your home for only a short time (for example, five years
or less), you may want to seriously consider an adjustable rate
mortgage with an initial rate term that matches your moving plans.
- Balloon mortgages
are usually less attractive than a similar term ARM. With a balloon
mortgage, you will need to secure a new mortgage at the end of the
term subjecting you to not only to changes in rates, but also the
costs and process of getting that new mortgage.
- Be sure that
you can afford your mortgage payments - both at the time you get
it and in the event that you get an ARM and rates have risen when
the initial rate period expires.

**Summary**

Choosing
the mortgage that is right for you is critical. Consider what you want
your mortgage to do for you. Factor in your plans for how long you anticipate
needing the mortgage (how long you are going to live in the home) and
be sure that you can accept the risk that your monthly payments may
rise if you choose an adjustable rate or balloon mortgage.