Which is better, a 30-year or a 15-year fixed rate mortgage?  A common and important question which, when answered, affects both the monthly payment and the amount of interest paid on a mortgage loan. While paying less interest over a shorter timeframe seems to be the obvious answer, the difference in monthly payment is surprising to some.

For instance, on a $300,000 note at 6.25 percent over 30 years, the principal and interest payment is $1,847 per month. Whereas on that same loan amount over 15 years at 6 percent, the payment jumps to $2,531! It’s easy to understand why most choose a 30-year loan over a 15-year loan; not only is the payment lower but it takes less income to qualify.

On the other hand, more money goes to interest on a 30-year loan compared to a 15-year loan. Using those same figures, the 30-year note yields $364,920 of interest, most of it in the first 10 years of the loan, while the 15-year loan only requires $155,580. That's less than half the interest that a 30-year loan produces!

So, which is better? Maybe neither.

While few lenders advertise this, there’s a compromise available to you. Loan payment periods can actually be acquired in five year increments. You don’t have to choose between a 30 and a 15-year loan! You can select a 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 year mortgage. Some lenders even offer 40-year loans. Now it’s possible to both keep monthly payments manageable and save on interest charges.

Here are the payments for these additional amortization periods on $300,000:
Term(yr) Rate  Payment
10 6.00% $3,330
20  6.25% $2,132
25 6.25% $1,979

                                            

Since these five year increments aren’t advertised you’ll typically have to ask your loan officer for a quote. Don’t be shy, you’ll find out that you just might be able to have the best of both worlds: lower payments with reduced interest charges!