Fixed-rate mortgages


Lenders offer several types of mortgages, but the most common are fixed-rate mortgages. These loans feature fixed rates and monthly payments, generally for 15-year and 30-year periods.

They're popular because:
Consumers balk at the thought of their house payment rising and falling with interest rates.
Whenever rates are low, fixed-rate mortgages are very affordable.

Fixed-rate loan borrowers face one major choice: 15 year or 30? For some, a 30-year loan makes more sense. For others, a 15-year one does. Here are some pros and cons of each.

30-year Fixed Rate
Advantages Disadvantages

15-year Fixed Rate
Advantages Disadvantages

Say you have a $150,000 mortgage. Let's compare how much money you would pay out in interest over 30 years vs. 15 years. The following chart shows the numbers. The monthly loan payments are principal and interest only. As you can see, with a 15-year loan, you would save $117,001 in interest.

Interest cost: 30-year vs. 15 year mortgages
Loan term Rate Monthly payment Total interest
30 years 6.64% $961 $196,304
15 years 6.10% $1,274 $79,304
Interest difference $117,001    

Other factors to consider
Take the example above: With the 15-year loan, the monthly mortgage payment is $313 more than the 30-year mortgage. You may want to put that money toward another investment. For instance, in a bull-market economy, you can make more money investing that $313 monthly in mutual funds or other investment securities.

Keep in mind that there are ways to prepay your mortgage and whittle away at the principal each month, so that the loan is paid off sooner than 30 years.

Also, it depends on how long you plan to own the home you are purchasing. If it's less than five years, you may be better off with an adjustable-rate mortgage, or ARM.

Compare the rates
To find out what the mortgage principal and interest would be on a particular loan you may be considering, first input your ZIP code to get best mortgage rates in your area. Then proceed to the Bankrate
mortgage calculator.

Another helpful source of information, Your Best Interest Report, the latest survey of interest rates on 30-year fixed mortgages and survey of interest rates on 15-year fixed mortgages.