Hello to ARMS: Variable-Rate Loans Make a Comeback

weighing ARMs against fixed-rate mortgages
weighing ARMs against fixed-rate mortgages

Roundly blamed as one of the key reasons behind the collapse of the housing market, the once-popular ARMs--adjustable-rate mortgages that started low and then adjusted to higher and less affordable payments--have crept back into the marketplace. The home-loan product that was virtually eradicated during the housing bust is now claiming about a 6 percent share of the market, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. In 2006, ARMs were a steady 30 percent of the loans being written; by 2008, they'd fallen to less than 1 percent of the market.

The ARMs of 2011, however, bear little resemblance to the ARMs of 2006.