Financing terms are the nuts and bolts of a successful home purchase. Once you’ve decided you’re ready to buy a house, it’s a matter of making the numbers work. So, which home loan is the right one for you? Knowing the different types of mortgage loans available to you will allow you to pinpoint the one that best fits your needs and is financially viable.
Conventional loans are the most popular type of home loan issued to borrowers. Offered by private lenders, they are not backed by the government. Conventional mortgages divide into two subsets: conforming loans; which adhere to Federal Housing Financing Agency (FHFA) guidelines, and non-conforming loans; which do not. Due to the added risk taken on by the lender, non-conforming loans typically have higher rates. A jumbo loan is an example of a non-conforming loan, due to its loan amounts being higher than the amount limits laid out in the underwriting guidelines. The two most common conventional loans are 30-year and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages.
The terms of your loan will drastically impact all aspects of your mortgage. With a 30-year mortgage, you’ll have lower monthly payments and a higher interest rate than you’d have with a 15-year mortgage, meaning you’ll pay more in interest over the life of the loan. With a 15-year mortgage, you’ll pay less interest, but you’ll have a higher monthly payment. Compared to a 30-year mortgage, a 15-year mortgage can save you money over the life of the loan, simply because you’re in debt for half the time; however, the higher monthly payments may be unaffordable for some.
Whereas conventional loans are not backed by a federal entity, there are several unconventional loans that are backed by the U.S. government. These unconventional loans can often provide a path to homeownership for borrowers who don’t have the credentials to qualify for a conventional loan.
FHA and USDA mortgages are two common types of government-backed loans. Instead of having to make a 20% down payment on a conventional loan to avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI), an FHA loan allows buyers to qualify for a mortgage with a down payment as little as 3.5%. USDA loans enable buyers to purchase a home with reduced interest rates. VA loans offer several benefits for active service personnel and veterans looking to buy a home, including not having to purchase mortgage insurance.
Fixed-rate mortgages allow you to lock in a specified interest rate for the life of the loan. With an unchanging monthly mortgage payment, a fixed-rate mortgage makes financial planning easier. Adjustable-rate mortgages’ interest rates will go up and down based on market conditions. Many ARMs will start with a fixed-interest rate period followed by a variable interest rate until the loan amount is paid off. Keep in mind that a sudden change in your financial situation could make your monthly ARM payments unaffordable, which could result in a loan default.
There are other more niche financing options available for prospective home buyers. For example, a construction loan can be useful if you’re planning on building a home. Balloon mortgages and sub-prime mortgages can make homeownership feasible for those who aren’t financially prepared for the typical repayment structure of a mortgage. These loans, however, come with greater risks. Talk to a mortgage broker to understand the terms of these agreements before making a final decision.
For more information on financing your next home purchase, read our blog post on bridge loans: