- Rate changes: Never; fully fixed for entire term
- Benefits: Low, stable payment; usually easiest qualification
- Alternative Strategy: Consider Hybrid ARM with appropriate fixed period
- Useful for: Purchasing a home; first-time homebuyers; refinancing to improve cash flow/lower payment
- Consider if: Buying or refinancing a home and planning on owning for longer than 10 years
- When shopping, ask about: “Full cost” vs. “No cost” refinances, prepaying loan to shorten term if desired
What is a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage?
A loan used for purchasing or refinancing a home with an interest rate that never changes and a repayment term of thirty years.
Why choose a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM)?
Simplicity. Your interest rate (and the mortgage’s principal and interest payment) never change. This offers budgetary certainty that most mortgage holders prefer; in general, if you can afford the payments today, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to afford them in the future.
Should I choose a 30-year FRM?
For most borrowers, the answer is “yes,” but there may be alternatives that can offer similar stability for shorter time periods that can save money in the near term and/or long-term. Thirty-year FRMs are often best if you expect to be in your home for 10 or more years.
What are the advantages of a 30-year FRM?
Payment stability at what is usually the lowest payment available for a fixed-rate mortgage. You can enjoy lower payments than a 20- or 15-year FRM but you also retain the ability to prepay your loan, shortening the ultimate term and saving you interest cost.
What are the disadvantages of a 30-year FRM?
A 30-year FRM may provide you more years of predictable, stable payments than you actually need. For example, many borrowers who select a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage refinance well before even 10 years have passed. Of the fixed-rate mortgages, 30-year terms generally have the highest interest rates and total interest costs, and the longer term builds equity more slowly than would a 20- or 15-year term.
Is a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage a good choice when buying a home?
Unless fixed mortgage interest rates are high, 30-year FRMs are usually the best choice, especially for first-time homebuyers. Stable payments make budget planning easier both now and into the future. While a shorter-term fixed-rate mortgage would carry lower interest rates and total interest costs, shorter term loans have higher monthly payments, making mortgage qualification tougher.
Are 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages a good choice for refinancing?
They can be, but the true answer is “it depends on your goal for refinancing.” If you are a few years into your existing loan and can grab a much lower interest rate, sure… but be aware that re-starting the “amortization clock” at a new 30 years means equity will again build more slowly and you will add years of new interest cost to pay in the future. If you’re deeper into your loan, you might instead consider a 20 or even 15-year term to get the best balance of savings today and tomorrow.
Are there alternatives to a 30-year FRM?
At times of higher interest rates, some borrowers wishing to have a mortgage with a 30-year term but who don’t need (or cannot afford) the higher associated interest rate turn to hybrid ARMs with fixed-rate periods of 5 or 7 years. For many, these offer reasonable stability for the foreseeable future but carry risk that payments could rise.
Fully amortizing, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages are the king of the American mortgage market, favored by those both buying homes and refinancing them even in times of relatively high interest rates.