mortgage is a type of loan used to purchase or maintain a home, land, or other types of real estate. The borrower agrees to pay the lender over time, typically in a series of regular payments that are divided into principal and interest. The property then serves as collateral to secure the loan.
A borrower must apply for a mortgage through their preferred lender and ensure that they meet several requirements, including minimum credit scores and down payments. Mortgage applications go through a rigorous underwriting process before they reach the closing phase. Mortgage types vary based on the needs of the borrower, such as conventional and fixed-rate loans.
How Mortgages Work
Individuals and businesses use mortgages to buy real estate without paying the entire purchase price up front. The borrower repays the loan plus interest over a specified number of years until they own the property free and clear. Most traditional mortgages are fully-amortizing. This means that the regular payment amount will stay the same, but different proportions of principal vs. interest will be paid over the life of the loan with each payment. Typical mortgage terms are for 30 or 15 years.
Mortgages are also known as liens against property or claims on property. If the borrower stops paying the mortgage, the lender can foreclose on the property.
For example, a residential homebuyer pledges their house to their lender, which then has a claim on the property. This ensures the lender’s interest in the property should the buyer default on their financial obligation. In the case of a foreclosure, the lender may evict the residents, sell the property, and use the money from the sale to pay off the mortgage debt.
The Mortgage Process
Would-be borrowers begin the process by applying to one or more mortgage lenders. The lender will ask for evidence that the borrower is capable of repaying the loan. This may include bank and investment statements, recent tax returns, and proof of current employment. The lender will generally run a credit check as well.
If the application is approved, the lender will offer the borrower a loan of up to a certain amount and at a particular interest rate. Homebuyers can apply for a mortgage after they have chosen a property to buy or while they are still shopping for one, a process known as pre-approval. Being pre-approved for a mortgage can give buyers an edge in a tight housing market because sellers will know that they have the money to back up their offer.
Types of Mortgages
Mortgages come in a variety of forms. The most common types are 30-year and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages. Some mortgage terms are as short as five years, while others can run 40 years or longer. Stretching payments over more years may reduce the monthly payment, but it also increases the total amount of interest that the borrower pays over the life of the loan.
The standard type of mortgage is fixed-rate. With a fixed-rate mortgage, the interest rate stays the same for the entire term of the loan, as do the borrower’s monthly payments toward the mortgage. A fixed-rate mortgage is also called a traditional mortgage.
2.Adjustable-Rate Mortgage (ARM)
With an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), the interest rate is fixed for an initial term, after which it can change periodically based on prevailing interest rates. The initial interest rate is often a below-market rate, which can make the mortgage more affordable in the short term but possibly less affordable long-term if the rate rises substantially.
Other, less common types of mortgages, such as interest-only mortgages and payment-option ARMs, can involve complex repayment schedules and are best used by sophisticated borrowers. These types of loans may feature a large balloon payment at its end.
As their name suggests, reverse mortgages are a very different financial product. They are designed for homeowners age 62 or older who want to convert part of the equity in their homes into cash.
Average Mortgage Rates (So Far for 2023)
How much you’ll have to pay for a mortgage depends on the type of mortgage (such as fixed or adjustable), its term (such as 20 or 30 years), any discount points paid, and interest rates at the time. Interest rates can vary from week to week and from lender to lender, so it pays to shop around.
How to Compare Mortgages
Banks, savings and loan associations, and credit unions were virtually the only sources of mortgages at one time. Today, a burgeoning share of the mortgage market includes nonbank lenders, such as Better, loanDepot, Rocket Mortgage, and SoFi.
If you’re shopping for a mortgage, an online mortgage calculator can help you compare estimated monthly payments, based on the type of mortgage, the interest rate, and how large a down payment you plan to make. It also can help you determine how expensive a property you can reasonably afford.
Why do people need mortgages?
The price of a home is often far greater than the amount of money that most households save. As a result, mortgages allow individuals and families to purchase a home by putting down only a relatively small down payment, such as 20% of the purchase price, and obtaining a loan for the balance. The loan is then secured by the value of the property in case the borrower defaults.