by Maurie Backman | Updated July 19, 2021 - First published on Dec. 7, 2020
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Wondering whether a 30-year mortgage is right for you? Here's how to weigh up your options.
Mortgages come in different varieties, and the 30-year term is the most popular. But should you get a 30-year mortgage? It depends on your circumstances.
There are several reasons people get 30-year mortgages. Here are some of the advantages of a long mortgage term:
The biggest advantage of a 30-year mortgage is that it'll help you keep your monthly payments lower. If you have a tight budget, a 30-year mortgage could make home ownership affordable. If your budget has a little more room, a lower mortgage payment means you can put more money into savings (or even investments).
Low payments can be easier to keep up with if your life circumstances change and finances get tighter.
Plus, while you're carrying a mortgage you’re entitled to tax breaks in the form of a mortgage interest deduction. Granted, you get the same break for a 15-year mortgage -- but a 30-year loan spreads this benefit out over a longer period of time.
Don't forget to consider your other financial goals. Do you expect to start saving aggressively for your kids' college expenses shortly after closing on your home? You might prefer a 30-year mortgage. That way, you have enough money to also save for your kids' college tuition.
Last, with a 30-year loan, you can put extra money into your mortgage payments when you can. In doing so, you might knock out that home loan in 20 or 25 years. But you'll have the option of a lower payment if you need it.
Unfortunately, a 30-year mortgage also means you'll drag out the repayment process. You'll have that debt payment hanging over your head for a long time. If you're in the later years of your career, this can compromise your ability to pay off your home in time for retirement.
Also, it'll take longer to build equity in your home with a 30-year mortgage than it will for a 15-year mortgage. Equity is the portion of your home that you actually own. It's calculated by taking your property's value and subtracting your mortgage balance.
With a 15-year loan, you're paying into your mortgage's principal more quickly, thereby accelerating the accumulation of equity. Why is that important? If you need money, you can borrow against your home's equity using a home equity loan or line of credit.
Review your budget. Look at your existing expenses, then calculate how much you can afford to pay toward a home each month. Don't forget additional housing expenses like property taxes, insurance, maintenance, and repairs.
Need help estimating mortgage costs? Check out our monthly mortgage payment calculator. There, you'll be able to experiment with the monthly costs of a 15-year mortgage versus a 30-year mortgage.
The mortgage interest rate you get on your mortgage can factor into your decision, too. If you get stuck with a higher rate, you might want to pay off your mortgage quickly. But if you're able to qualify for a relatively low rate, then you may not mind the idea of paying it off over a longer period.
Whether or not a 30-year mortgage is right for you is a decision only you can make. Look at your budget, goals, and future, and decide for yourself whether this type of mortgage fits your life.
Chances are, interest rates won't stay put at multi-decade lows for much longer. That's why taking action today is crucial, whether you're wanting to refinance and cut your mortgage payment or you're ready to pull the trigger on a new home purchase.
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