The continually changing mortgage market often creates a confusing spectrum of choices for borrowers. By acquiring a general understanding of the types of mortgage products available and the advantages found in each, the consumer gains the ability to choose the best option. One of the most popular types of financing is the 20 year fixed mortgage, available from a variety of financial institutions. This loan option provides distinct advantages over other products.
As with other fixed term loans, the interest rates on this plan will remain constant for the life of the loan. Once a payment amount is established and the loan granted, the borrower is assured that each monthly payment is identical for 20 years. On longer term loans such as a 20 year and 30 year fixed, payments during the first few years go primarily toward paying the interest. Very little of the principle is actually paid until much later in the term. In many cases, additional payments may be applied to the principle or the entire loan may be prepaid before the end of the loan period.
The normal rule when comparing mortgage plans is that a longer term loan will typically have a higher interest rate than a shorter term. For example, a 30 year fixed loan may be available at 4.90%, a 20 year at 4.75% and a 15 year at 4.50%. These rates continually fluctuate but they often follow this pattern. The reason for this is that with a longer term loan the lender has the ability to collect more revenue over time. A borrower may save thousands of dollars in the long run by choosing a shorter term loan. The disadvantage to the borrower, however, is that the monthly payments are higher and qualifying may be more difficult. A 20 year fixed mortgage may be a good compromise for borrowers who desire a lower monthly payment than a 15 year loan offers but want the flexibility of completing the payments in a shorter time than the 30 year plans. Equity buildup from a 20 year fixed mortgage rises faster than a 30 year loan.
Other financing options for home or real property loans include adjustable rate loans. In this case, the borrower assumes the risk of either a higher payment at some point or a possibly a reduced payment depending on market conditions. Homebuyers who do not plan to stay in the home for a long period or plan to pay off a loan quickly may decide to take the risk of an adjustable rate mortgage. Buyers who need to have a secure payment schedule, however, will select a fixed mortgage plan.
Several important features to remember about a 20 year fixed mortgage:
Although rates fluctuate to some degree on a weekly basis, watching general trends and economic conditions allows consumers to make the right choice for financing. Selecting a fixed term loan over a variable interest rate mortgage may depend on forecasting how interest rates are expected to change. For example, during inflationary periods when interest rates jump quickly and may be unpredictable, variable rate loans could create a financial hardship for some borrowers. They may find that the lender increased the mortgage payment because the prime rate jumped. The mortgage payment may continue to rise or go down at the discretion of the financial institution. However, variable loans may be attractive with low starting rates enabling first time homebuyers to get into a starter home. If the loan applicant realizes the risks and has plans to either refinance, move or pay off the loan before an increase they may be a valid choice.
In contrast, those borrowers holding a fixed rate are protected from an increase during economic inflation. When interest rates are at a current low trend and forecasted to increase, securing a fixed mortgage becomes an attractive option. The disadvantage is that it may be more difficult to qualify for a 20 year fixed loan than a longer term such as a 30 year fixed because of higher payments and more stringent requirements. This type of loan is a good fit for borrowers who desire low risk and can comfortably meet the qualifications.
The most ideal time to finance is obviously when the rates are lowest; however other factors such as new home purchases, refinancing due to change of job or other lifestyle upsets may make the decision immediate. Borrowers interested in refinancing hold the best possibilities of ideal timing for a new loan. If the homeowner already has accrued some equity in the property, a refinance could lower the monthly payment significantly if the interest rates have dropped since the initial sale. Although additional fees are involved in refinancing, the advantage of a shorter term loan such as a 20 year fixed over a variable or longer term may offset those costs.
Every mortgage includes some upfront costs for processing and to pay the expenses of writing the loan policy. When moneys are fluid, for example during an economic upturn where financial institutions have abundant resources, some loans may be advertised as free to the borrower. These loans may seem attractive to the borrower but often come at a higher interest rate than other mortgage plans. Typically a new loan will include a series of fees including points which are 1% of the loan amount and paid at the time of funding. Some lenders allow points to be amortized over the life of the loan.
The cost of obtaining a mortgage varies due to differences in financial institutions, unique regions such as states in the U.S., the amount of the loan and several other factors. The borrower’s credit history will often have a significant impact on the cost of the loan and the interest rate being offered. Larger loans such as jumbo loans often carry higher initial fees. A large down payment may reduce the mortgage cost in some cases. Costs for refinancing may be slightly less than for an original loan if the same lender is used and agrees to a reduction in their fees, particularly if the borrower has maintained a good credit rating.
Fees to be considered when financing a 20 year fixed mortgage:
Fees for financing a new mortgage will vary between lenders and often depend on the current economic conditions. An advantage of securing a 20 year fixed mortgage versus shorter term loans or variable plans is that the costs may be amortized over a longer period making this loan the most practical and affordable option.