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The principal is the amount that is borrowed. Up front costs such as downpayment and closing costs are not part of the principal.
A fixed rate mortgage has the same interest rate for the life of the loan.
With an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) the interest rate (and therefore the minimum payment) will increase after a specified time period.
Adjustable rate mortgages typically have a lower initial interest rate. They can be worthwhile if you expect to sell your house or refinance before the interest rate increases.
Copyright Stephen Ostermiller 2006-2021