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Is a Long or Short Term Mortgage Better for your Finances?

By Jamie Richardson | February 26, 2021

Image Source: Pexels

Choosing the right mortgage is an integral part of the home buying process, and there are many options for you to consider. One of which is choosing between a 15-year or 30-year mortgage term. Both of these options have their positives and negatives, which we’ll discuss in this article. What you choose will impact the overall price of your home throughout its lifetime.

What is a Mortgage Term?

The most significant difference between a long and short-term loan is how payments and interest add up over time. Current rates will also impact the affordability of your mortgage interest rate, but 15-year terms are typically less expensive overall because you won’t pay as much interest. For a 30-year mortgage rate, the opposite is true.

When first deciding which term is right for you, think about your budget and income prospects. For example, if you’re borrowing $200,000 towards the purchase of a $600,000 home and choose a 15-year mortgage at a rate of 5.00%, your monthly payments would be $3,163.17 a month. However, you would only pay $169,371 in interest. 

If we use the same borrowing amount on the same home but use a 30-year mortgage term at a rate of 5.50%, your monthly payments would be $2,271.16, which is significantly less. However, you would pay a total of $417,616 in interest. That’s 2.4 times as much interest.

When to Choose a 15-Year (Short Term) Mortgage Term

On average, your monthly payments will be higher on a short-term mortgage, but you’ll pay less in interest. When opting for a 15-year term, it’s essential to carefully think about your finances and ensure you can handle the higher monthly cost. 

15-year terms work better under a fixed interest rate because you’ll know exactly how much you’ll pay over the loan's lifetime. If you choose an adjustable-rate, you could run the risk of having a mortgage beyond your means. A percentage or two could add hundreds of dollars to the loan's monthly payment, so choose the safest route for your term.

Another thing to consider is your job situation. While we can’t predict whether we’ll be laid off or an economic downturn will occur, you can minimize your risk of unemployment by staying in one position long-term. To avoid financial trouble, you could give your lender a higher down payment or opt to save more than spend. 

When to Choose a 30-Year (Long Term) Mortgage Term

A 30-year mortgage term is often seen as the safer option because you have a little more wiggle room when it comes to saving. You’ll also receive more in tax benefits because you can claim mortgage deductions longer. Mortgage tax deductions could be beneficial for homeowners that retire while they’re still paying off their loan.

30-year mortgages have the option of prepayment, whereas 15-year terms don’t. You have the opportunity to add an extra $50 to your payments each month which will help you pay down the mortgage faster without straining your budget. Some homeowners on a 30-year term will use bi-weekly payments instead of monthly to shave off as much as they can. 

Long-term mortgages are best for families who plan to stay in their homes for an extended period. While you aren’t required to pay down your mortgage before selling, having a plan to stay for 30+ years could also impact which term you choose.

Weighing the Pros and Cons

Before choosing your mortgage term, it’s best to look beyond the financial picture. While a 15-year term will pay off your home faster, you could be sacrificing other financial goals. However, a 30-year term will cost you more in the long-run, but you have the option of paying it down faster and focusing on other investments. 

When it comes down to it, choose whichever term works for your budget and lifestyle.

Jamie is a 5-year freelance writer who enjoys real estate. He is currently a Realty Biz News Contributor.
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