This decision used to be a heck of a lot easier; before the 1980s, mortgages came in one basic flavor. The rates were fixed, you paid them back over 30 years, and then you held a mortgage-burning party where you triumphantly set fire to your loan paperwork.
Spiking interest rates in the 1980s brought adjustable-rate loans, where borrowers got low “teaser” rates in exchange for the possibility that their payments would change with interest rate swings.
Today, the variety of mortgages available is staggering. One of the more popular options is the hybrid loan, which combines features of both fixed and variable rates. Typically, the loan is fixed for the first three to seven years before becoming adjustable.