The 30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage – Still Your Best Option?


During my years as a real estate broker and mortgage lender representative, the 30 year fixed rate mortgage was the best option for most first time home buyers, and in many cases, home owners who were refinancing. This was true for a number of reasons, most important of which, was the lower monthly payments based on a longer term. The 30 year fixed rate mortgage was, at that time, the most popular FHA-insured mortgage type and FHA mortgages were the mortgage of choice in most markets where I did business.

However, the 30 year fixed rate mortgage was also the first choice of most conventional borrowers for some of the same reasons. The total payments were spread over a longer period of time with the interest rate set for the entire term of the mortgage. That having been said, is the 30 year mortgage still an industry standard, and does it meet the specific needs of today’s mortgage borrower? Since your financing needs are, in many cases, very unique you may wish to choose a different mortgage type.

There have been many changes in the real estate and mortgage market over the last 4 years – brought on primarily by the subprime mortgage meltdown – but even if the 30 year home loan is still an industry standard, is it the right choice for you? The answer to this question will depend on a couple of factors. If, for example, you intend to sell your home within a 5 to 7 year period it may be best to take advantage of the lower rate 5 or 7 year ARM (Adjustable Rate Mortgage) because since the total payments on a 30 year mortgage are spread over a longer period of time and the interest rate set for the entire time of the mortgage, the interest rate carried on it is higher than that on an ARM.

As we mentioned, the plus side for a 30 year home loan is lower monthly payments. This attraction is somewhat dimmed by the fact that you pay $1000s extra in interest; But, your interest is 100% tax deductible (unless the US Congress changes this feature as they may be contemplating) which does lower your after-tax cost.

It offers you some flexibility so that if your financial situation changes and you have more money you can pay it off in less than 30 years, this while keeping the low monthly payments. Your payments are smaller so, in reality, you can purchase a larger roomier home. To show an example of the interest difference between 30 year home loan rates and one of the other mortgage types.

On a 30 year, 250,000 dollar loan using 4.5% interest rate your monthly payment of interest and principle would be $1,266.71; But over the next 30 years you will have paid approximately $337,500 in interest alone. Now with a 15 year home loan rate on the same amount, but a lower 15 year rate of 3.5%, you will pay $1,787.21 (principal & interest) per month and over the next 15 term, you would pay $131,250 in interest which would save you approximately $206,250 dollars.

Those numbers suggest that, if you have the will power to invest the savings gained from the lower (30 year mortgage) monthly payments, it still could be a good choice to go with the 30 year mortgage. Especially if you can find an investment that the long term payoff matches or exceeds what you would save in a 15 year mortgage. Another factor to consider is how fast you want to accrue equity in your home or to own it outright. 30 year mortgage loans take much longer for you to build equity.

The 30 mortgage is certainly attractive, and the vast majority of home buyers opted for 30-year loans based on everything that was already said; And although there have been discussion about a 35 or 40 year mortgage, and some lenders have adopted these longer term mortgages, they were never as popular as the 30 year mortgage.

However, there are still many other mortgage financing options to consider, and probably the biggest question you have to ask yourself when considering a mortgage loan is what are your financial goals? What loan plan will help you the most to reach that goal? It is clearly to your advantage to look into other home financing options for the best mortgage available for you and will best accomplish your financial goals. It may surprise you that, because of your personal situation, other plans may be more suitable for you.