Deciding between 30 year fixed or 15 year fixed

Whether you are buying a home or you are refinancing, one of the important decisions you will have to make is your loan term. For most borrowers, a fixed-rate loan is the best option as these loans are not subject to higher monthly payments. Once you agree to accept a fixed-rate loan, the only changes

Deciding between 30 year fixed or 15 year fixed

Whether you are buying a home or you are refinancing, one of the important decisions you will have to make is your loan term. For most borrowers, a fixed-rate loan is the best option as these loans are not subject to higher monthly payments. Once you agree to accept a fixed-rate loan, the only changes in monthly payments would occur if your property taxes or insurance costs increased. However, borrowers must also make a decision between a 15 year fixed and 30 year fixed loan.

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Why the rates vary

In most cases, the interest rate on a 15 year fixed rate mortgage can be as much as one half a percentage point lower than a 30 year fixed rate mortgage. This is because the lender is taking far less risk with a 15 year mortgage than with a 30 year mortgage. For the borrower however, a 15 year fixed rate mortgage will also mean higher monthly payments. There may be some valid reasons for signing a 30 year mortgage versus a 15 year mortgage.

The benefits of a 30 year fixed rate

Most lenders do not include a prepayment penalty with a 30 year fixed rate mortgage. This allows the homeowner to “pay down” the principal amount of their loans in less time than the overall length of the note. As an example, let’s take a look at a purchase loan where you have put a 20 percent down payment and you are financing $165,000. The following is an estimate of how a 15 year and a 30 year mortgage compare to each other.

30 Year Fixed    15 Year Fixed 
Loan Amount: $165,000   Loan Amount: $165,000

Fixed Rate: 3.920

  Fixed Rate: 3.454
APR: 3.87 Points: 0   APR: 3.375 Points: 0
Monthly payment: $776*   Monthly payment: $1,169*

As you can see, the 15 year fixed mortgage payment is $393 higher than the 15 year rate. However, since a 30 year mortgage does not typically carry a pre-payment penalty, a homeowner may elect to pay this extra amount every month. By paying extra principal every month, a homeowner can reduce the term of their loan as well as the amount of interest paid.

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Advantages of a 30 versus 15 year amortization

Accepting a 30 year fixed rate mortgage keeps your payments lower in the event that you suffer from any loss of income. Provided your loan does not have a prepayment clause, you can elect to make “extra” payments to shorten the length of your loan. A sudden medical issue or loss of employment may make a 15 year mortgage harder to maintain making a 30 year fixed rate loan a better deal for most homeowners.

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**** The above blog is for informational purposes only. Our sample chart is not an accurate rate quote or current loan terms, programs, APR etc. Our goal is to give our readers an example in order for you to make an educated decision on the loan programs. This is not construed as an offer to lend this amount at the specific rate and payment.  Sample information is based upon a credit score of 720, primary residence, single family residence with 20% down payment.*****

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