Mortgage Amortization Graph
The Mortgage Calculator helps estimate the financial costs associated with mortgages. There are advanced options to include extra payments or annual percentage increases. It is mainly intended for use by U.S. residents.
A mortgage is a loan secured by a property – usually a real estate property. A real estate mortgage usually includes the following key components:
- Loan Amount—the amount borrowed from a lender or bank. The maximum loan amount one can borrow normally correlates with household income or affordability. To estimate an affordable amount, please use our House Affordability Calculator.
- Down Payment—the upfront payment of the purchase, usually in a percentage of the total price. In the US, if the down payment is less than 20% of the total property price, typically, private mortgage insurance (PMI) is required to be purchased until the principal arrives at less than 80% or 78% of the total property price. The PMI rate normally ranges from 0.3%-1.5% (generally around 1%) of the total loan amount, depending on various factors. A general rule-of-thumb is that the higher the down payment, the more favorable the interest rate.
- Loan Term—the agreed upon length of time the loan shall be repaid in full. The most popular lengths are 30 years and 15 years. Normally, the shorter the loan term, the lower the interest rate.
- Interest Rate—the rate of interest charged by a mortgage lender. It can be "fixed" (otherwise known as a fixed-rate mortgage, or FRM), or "adjustable" (otherwise known as an adjustable rate mortgage, or ARM). The calculator above is only usable for fixed rates. For ARMs, interest rates are generally fixed for a period of time, after which they will be periodically "adjusted" based on market indices. ARMs transfer part of the risk to borrowers. Therefore, the initial interest rates are normally 0.5% to 2% lower than FRM with the same loan term. Mortgage interest rates are normally expressed in Annual Percentage Rate (APR), which is sometimes called nominal APR or effective APR. It is the interest rate expressed as a periodic rate multiplied by the number of compounding periods in a year. For example, if a mortgage rate is 6% APR, it means the borrower will have to pay 6% divided by twelve, which comes out to 0.5% in interest every month.
The most common way to repay a mortgage loan is to make monthly, fixed payments to the lender. The payment contains both the principal and the interest. For a typical 30-year loan, the majority of the payments in the first few years cover the interest.
Costs Associated with Mortgages and Home Ownership
Commonly, monthly mortgage payments will consist of the bulk of the financial costs associated with owning a house, but there are other important costs to keep in mind. In some cases, these costs combined can be more than the mortgage payments. Be sure to keep these costs in mind when planning to purchase a home.
Because the recurring costs perpetuate throughout the lives of mortgages (exception being PMI), they are a significant financial factor. Property Taxes, Home Insurance, HOA Fee, and Other Costs increase with time as a byproduct of moderate inflation. There are optional inputs within the calculator for annual percentage increases. Using these wisely can result in more accurate calculations.
- Property Taxes—a tax that property owners pay to governing authorities. In the U.S., property tax is usually managed by municipal or county government. The annual real estate tax in the U.S. varies by location, normally ranging from 1% to 4% of the property value. In some extreme cases, the tax rate can be 10% or higher.
- Home Insurance—an insurance policy that protects the owner from accidents that may happen to the private residence or other real estate properties. Home insurance can also contain personal liability coverage, which protects against lawsuits involving injuries that occur on and off the property. The cost of home insurance varies according to factors such as location, condition of property, and coverage amount. Typically, the annual cost can range from 0.1% to 5% of the property value.
- Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)—protects the mortgage lender if the borrower is unable to repay. In the U.S. specifically, if the down payment is less than 20% of the property value, the lender will normally require the borrower to purchase PMI until the loan-to-value ratio (LTV) reaches 80% or 78%. PMI price varies according to factors such as down payment, size of the loan, and credit of the borrower. The annual cost typically ranges from 0.3% to 1.5% of the loan amount.
- HOA Fee—a fee that is imposed on the property owner by an organization that maintains and improves property and environment of the neighborhoods that the specific organization covers. Common real estate that requires HOA fees include condominiums, townhomes, and some single-family communities. Annual HOA fees usually amount to less than one percent of the property value.
- Other Costs—includes utilities, home maintenance costs, and anything pertaining to the general upkeep of the property. Many miscellaneous costs can be deceptively high and it is important to consider them in the big picture. It is common to spend 1% or more of the property value on annual maintenance alone.
While these costs aren't contained within calculations, they are still important to keep in mind.
- Closing Costs—the fees paid at the closing of a real estate transaction. It is not a recurring fee yet it can be expensive. In the U.S., even though not all are applicable, the closing cost on a mortgage can include attorney fee, title service cost, recording fee, survey fee, property transfer tax, brokerage commission, mortgage application fee, points, appraisal fee, inspection fee, home warranty, pre-paid home insurance, pro-rata property taxes, pro-rata homeowner association dues, pro-rata interest, and more. Sellers will share some of these costs. It is not unusual for a buyer to pay $10,000 in total closing costs on a $300,000 transaction.
- Initial Renovations—Some buyers invest money into renovations, features, or updates before moving in. Examples may be changing the flooring, repainting the walls, or even adding a patio.
Besides these, new furniture, new appliances, and moving costs are also common non-recurring costs of a home purchase.
Early Repayment and Extra Payments
For many situations, mortgage borrowers may want to pay off mortgages earlier rather than later, either in whole or in part, for reasons including but not limited to interest savings, home selling, or refinancing. Most mortgage lenders allow borrowers to pay off up to 20% of the loan balance each year but few may have prepayment penalties for one-time payoffs, mainly to prevent refinancing too soon (which will affect the lender's profit). One-time payoff due to home selling is normally exempt from a prepayment penalty. The penalty amount typically decreases with time until it phases out within 5 years. Few lenders charge prepayment penalties regardless of home-selling or refinancing, but be sure to review the loan terms carefully anyway just in case.
Some borrowers may want to pay off their mortgage loan earlier to reduce interest. Typically, there are three ways to do so. The methods can be used in combination or individually.
- Refinance to a loan with a shorter term—Normally, interest rates of shorter term mortgage loans are lower. Therefore, borrowers not only repay their loan balances faster, but receive lower and more favorable interest rates on their mortgages. Keep in mind that this imposes higher financial pressure on the borrower due to higher monthly mortgage payments. Also, there may be fees or penalties involved.
- Make extra payments—the majority of the earliest mortgage payments will be for interest instead of principal on typical long-term mortgage loan. Any extra payments will decrease loan balances, therefore decreasing interest and pay off earlier in the long run. Some people form the habit of paying extra every month, while others pay extra whenever they can. There are optional inputs to include many extra payments, and it can be helpful to compare the results of supplementing mortgages with extra payments and without.
- Make biweekly (once every two weeks) payments of half month's payment instead—Since there are 52 weeks each year, this is the equivalent of making 13 months of mortgage repayments a year instead of 12. Utilizing this method, mortgages can be paid off earlier. Displayed in the calculated results are biweekly payments for comparison purposes.
The Calculator has the tools to help evaluate the options. Please be aware that the rates on mortgages tend to be very low compared with other types of loans. Also, mortgage interest is tax-deductible, and home equity accumulated may be counted against borrowers when applying for need-based college aid. Be sure to consider comprehensively before paying off mortgage loans earlier.