Whether you’re buying a home or refinancing, you have a number of choices when it comes to financing. One of those choices involves your loan term. While the overwhelming majority of home buyers and home owners elect to go with the 30-year mortgage, you may be wondering if a 15-year home loan might be a better choice for you.
There are some definite advantages to going with a 15-year mortgage. The biggest benefit, of course, is that it provides homeowners the opportunity to build equity faster and to pay off their loan in half the time of a 30-year mortgage. If your finances allow, a 15-year mortgage can get you thinking about the day you won’t have a mortgage anymore! Not only that, but over the life of your loan you’ll pay significantly less interest than with a 30-year loan. The interest rate on a 15-year loan also may be lower than that of a 30-year mortgage.
All that sounds great, right? There’s a big downside to a 15-year loan — or any other shorter term home loan. The monthly payments are significantly higher — in the case of a 15-year mortgage as much as 50% higher as the 30-year variety. And you’re locked into that higher monthly payment for the life of the loan or until you sell your home or refinance. If you’re unsure that you’ll always be able to make the bigger payments, a 30-year mortgage might be a better option. A 30-year home loan might also be a better option if your income is highly variable or erratic or the higher payments on a 15-year mortgage means that you won’t have much left over in your budget for saving. If you do have room in your budget for a 15-year loan, though, it’s definitely worth considering.
Another option is to take out the 30-year mortgage and make extra payments toward your principal balance when you’re able to. Most types of home loans allow borrowers to make extra principal payments periodically, such as when they get a bonus at work, or each month when they make their regular mortgage payment.