Buying a home is likely one of the most exciting financial commitments of your life, so it's important to set yourself up for success. This starts with being realistic about the type of house you'll be able to afford and whether you should get a 15-year or 30-year mortgage loan. A mortgage calculator is a helpful tool when making this decision.
What is a mortgage calculator?
A mortgage calculator helps estimate your monthly mortgage payment. With our mortgage calculator, you simply enter the home price, your down payment, the property zip code, your credit score and what's most important to you when choosing a loan. After plugging in the numbers, the calculator provides your estimated total mortgage payment, including principal, interest, taxes and insurance.
15- and a 30-year mortgage: What’s the difference?
Choosing the right mortgage term for your needs is important, and is ultimately up to your discretion. A 15-year mortgage is a home loan with a fixed interest rate and monthly payment over a 15-year timespan. A 30-year mortgage is paid over the course 30 years. Your monthly payments are much lower with a 30-year mortgage term because they’re spread out across a larger timespan, but the interest you end up paying is much higher.
When do people use a 15-year mortgage
A 15-year mortgage is desirable because, ultimately, you may end up paying less than you would with a 30-year mortgage because you’re paying interest for a shorter period. But keep in mind that the monthly payments are much higher, so you may not be able to afford a more expensive home.
In addition, 15-year mortgages usually come with lower interest rates. If you’re approaching retirement, this may make more sense for you, as well. It may be beneficial to pay your house off so when you’re done working, you no longer have to worry about mortgage payments.
When do people use a 30-year mortgage
A 30-year mortgage is desirable because the monthly payments are much lower since you have more time to pay off the loan. You also have the option to pay it off in less than 30 years. For example, you could take out a 30-year mortgage and, if you have the money, pay it off in 15 years. Some people think of this option as a low risk, high reward situation.
Conversely, if you lock yourself into a 15-year mortgage, you may risk not being able to afford the payment. Missing even one payment can have a negative impact on your credit score. Using a mortgage calculator and planning out future costs can help you avoid these mistakes.
The potential pros and cons of a 15-year mortgage
Potential pros of a 15-year mortgage:
- May save you money in the long run
- Could have lower interest rates
- May be a better option when approaching retirement
- Tends to create faster equity
Potential cons of a 15-year mortgage:
- Often larger monthly payments
- Potentially limit your buying options
- Less liquidity
The potential pros and cons of a 30-year mortgage
Potential pros of a 30-year mortgage:
- Often lower monthly payments
- More financial flexibility
- May be easier to qualify for
- Increased short-term cash flow
Potential cons of a 30-year mortgage:
- Often pay more due to interest over time
- Typically higher interest rates
- Tends to create slower gains in equity
How a monthly mortgage calculator can help you decide
A mortgage calculator is one of the first suggested steps in the homebuying journey. It will help you be realistic about what you can afford. This ultimately narrows down your search and makes the house hunting process easier.
The calculator will break down an estimate of what your mortgage would be on a monthly basis. Factoring in your monthly mortgage with other expenses before buying a home provides room to plan for short-term and long-term financial goals. The most common mortgage calculators are for 15-year mortgages and 30-year mortgages.
It’s important to keep building up a savings account, retirement funds and other goals while financing your home, so this should be considered when planning your mortgage payments.
Overall, do what will allow you to live your desired lifestyle while still being able to afford your mortgage payment. This is where a monthly mortgage calculator can come in handy.
Time to pick the right mortgage term for you
Now that you've seen what a 15- and 30-year loan looks like, it's time to decide which is best for your needs. We encourage you to look at your finances and make sure you have enough income to keep up with your monthly payments, with room to spare. Don’t forget about the down payment, upkeep, upgrade costs and everything else that comes with owning your own home. A monthly mortgage calculator can be extremely helpful when making a decision that will impact your finances for years to come.