15 vs. 30 Year Mortgages

Which is better: A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage or go for a lower-interest 15-year one?

Typically, 15-year mortgage allows you to pay off your mortgage quicker and save a significant chunk of money on interest. However, a 30-year may be a logical choice for most people because it has more advantages. Let’s take a look at the differences:

  • post1Payments are less with a 30-year mortgage which enables more consumers to qualify for home purchases.
  • Generally, you can make additional principal payments to pay off your loan faster without penalty.
  • A 15-year loan means you are committed to giving that extra money to your lender each month, whether you can really afford to at the time or not.
  • The higher payments of a 15-year mortgage make little sense if they keep you from building savings or contributing to a 401(k) plan, IRA or college fund.
  • The amortization schedule of 30-year fixed is back-heavy, with early-term payments big on interest and light on principal.
  • A 15-year fixed is always light on interest which lowers its taxpayer benefits.

While it’s true you gain more of a tax break from a 30-year loan, it shouldn’t be the main consideration when deciding on a term. The 30-year borrower pays less in yearly taxes because they pay significantly more in interest.

So it all comes down to choice and circumstances:

  • Choose the 15-year loan if you have the financial wherewithal to assume the payments. Your interest savings will be substantial and you’ll own your home faster.

The 30-year loan offers lower payments and greater flexibility. You can always choose to pay more on your mortgage when the money is available.

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Your Mortgage: Pay Attention to the Points

keysIn terms of your mortgage, a point is an additional loan fee that is paid to the lender in exchange for a lower interest rate. It’s called “buying down,” and it allows you to reduce your rate for the life of the loan.

Let’s say you secured a mortgage loan for $500,000 without points, at 4.6% on a 30-year mortgage, your payment would be approximately $2,560 a month. If you paid two points ($10,000), the interest rate would go down to 4.1% and the monthly payment would decrease to around $2,415, a savings of $145 a month.

It would take you about eight years to recoup the money you paid up front. If you are planning on staying in your home a while, this will save you money in the long-run. Before deciding, ask yourself:

  • How long will I keep the home?
  • Do I have extra money to pay points?
  • Could that money be better used for something else?

Some may suggest that a smarter option is to invest that $10,000 because you could do much better than your $140 savings, but you have to weigh the variables.*

Here are three simple rules of thumb in determining your particular course of action:

  • If you plan to stay in the house for less than three years, do not pay points
  • If you plan to stay in the house for more than five years, pay 1 to 2 points
  • If you’ll be in the house for three to five years, paying points doesn’t make a significant difference

Since points are interest-payment related, they may be deductible on your taxes in the year that you close. See your tax advisor for details.

Mortgage points can add up to valuable savings over the course of your loan, but the future isn’t always predictable. Even if you “plan” on staying in your home for 20 years, changes in your career or family life could alter that plan.

* The above example is for illustrative purposes only. Be sure to check with your financial or tax advisor regarding your particular situation.

For more home tips, follow us on Facebook. Looking for a new home in the Kansas City area? Visit us at BHHSKCRealty.com!