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Choosing The Best Mortgage Now

Choosing The Best Mortgage Now - NEW YORK (CNN/Money) – Mortgage rates have been on the rise for the past month, but they're still at fairly low levels historically speaking.

If you're in the market for a new home, you figure it must be less expensive to buy now than when rates go up even further, assuming housing prices stay strong in the near term, something economists expect will happen. That may be the only thing you can be sure about.

Mortgage, Best Home Loan, Home Loan

But finding the best type of mortgage for your situation can feel a little like finding the perfect ecru in a sea of beige.
It doesn't have to be that way. If you ask yourself the right questions, you at least can narrow your search to the best category of mortgage for which you need to comparison shop.

15-year versus 30-year debate

The first question you should ask is, "How much can I afford to pay on a monthly basis?" Keep in mind, your mortgage payment is only part of what you'll pay to live in your home. You also should budget for furniture, your house's upkeep and the general expenses of life (like, say, food).

A 30-year mortgage will have a lower monthly payment and a higher interest rate than a 15-year mortgage. So you'll have a smaller monthly obligation but you'll pay more for your house over time because you're paying it off with interest for a longer period.

Conversely, a 15-year mortgage will have a higher monthly payment and a lower interest rate so you'll pay less for your house because you're paying it off in a shorter period.

"For most home buyers, especially first-time buyers, taking a 15-year (or 20-year) mortgage is out of the question," said Keith Gumbinger, vice president for mortgage tracker HSH Associates. The higher monthly payments are often too much to handle for these types of buyers.

But for home buyers with sufficient income and a desire to be mortgage-free in a short time, a 15-year loan might be a good bet.
  • Fixed versus adjustable-rate conundrum
  • The second question you should ask is, "How long will you be in the house?" You probably can't answer with absolute certainty, but you can play the odds.
  • Say, for example, you're single and buying a small condo but you can easily envision yourself married; or you've just started a family and plan to expand it at some point. 

Chances are good you'll want to trade up to a new home in five to seven years. On the other hand, maybe you've had your family and want to settle into a place with a good school system, which your kids will be using for the next 12 years.

Whatever the answer, it will help you decide whether it makes sense to get a fixed-rate or an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM).

A fixed-rate mortgage locks in a rate for the length of your loan.

ARMs, meanwhile, are short-term fixed-rate loans: After the fixed rate term is up, the rate adjusts at regular intervals in accordance with current interest rate conditions at that time. A 5/1 ARM, for example, has a fixed rate for five years and then adjusts every year for the next 25 years. (ARMs typically run on a 30-year schedule.)


By Jeanne Sahadi

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