30-year vs. 15-year Mortgage Loans

What is a Loan?

When looking to buy a home, one can either pay upfront or use a home loan called a mortgage. A mortgage allows home buyers to buy a house when they don’t have enough money to pay for it outright. The loan comes with terms pre-determined by both parties, the lender and the buyer. These terms include everything that is included, including the total sum, the interest rate (extra money one has to pay for borrowing the money), and the rate to which it has to be paid back (usually 15, 20, or 30 years).

Which Term Length is Right for Me?

15-year and 30-year mortgages.  The main differentiator between these two rates is the time it takes to repay the loan. For 15-year mortgages, the buyer has a repayment period of 15 years, meaning that borrowers must make monthly payments for 15 years until the loan is fully paid off. In turn, with 30-year mortgages, the buyer has a repayment period of 30 years. When it comes to making these monthly payments, 15-year mortgages are typically more expensive than that of a 30-year mortgage. Since the term is shorter, borrowers have to pay off the principal (each payment) and the applied interest in a shorter amount of time. This results in larger monthly payments. Buyers can count on 30-year mortgages to be lower, as they are stretched over a longer period. This can make homeownership more affordable on a month-to-month basis.

Interest rates, or the amount a borrower is charged for the money, are typically lower on a 15-year mortgage, than on that of a 30-year mortgage. When choosing between a 15-year and 30-year mortgage, the buyer has to consider their financial flexibility. As a buyer can expect a 15-year mortgage to be more expensive, they can also expect to own their home outright sooner. With 30-year mortgages, lower monthly payments can provide the buyer with more financial flexibility. On the other hand, it takes longer for the buyer to own their home outright. This being said, when it comes to choosing a mortgage rate, consider the long-term financial plans, and whether or not to pay off the home sooner, at a higher rate, or delayed and at a more manageable monthly payment. To estimate the monthly mortgage, see our Mortgage Calculator to break down the payments.

Interest Rates

There are two main types of interest rates. The first one is a fixed interest rate. That means from the moment that the loan is taken out, the rate will be constant. If it starts with 6.8% interest on the loan, that is what will be paid until the loan period ends. The second is an adjustable-rate mortgage. These have the ability to change after a certain amount of years. An example would be the 7/1 loan. This loan has a fixed interest rate for the first seven years and will vary each year after that until your loan pay period is up. There are several that have that same format.

Most mortgage companies have 3 main factors they look at when deciding what your interest rate will be. The first is based on how much money you would be able to put toward a downpayment. They usually require 0%-20%. If you place more, It can lower your interest rate. The second is your credit score. Many require a minimum credit score. The further away you are, the higher the chance of getting a better rate. Lastly, your debt-to-income ratio. This is how much you pay in debts each month compared to how much you make. You have to have at least have 50% higher income vs. your debts to get a better rate.

How to pay off a 30-year Mortgage in 15 years.

So, what if you can’t pay the higher monthly payment associated with a 15-year mortgage but don’t want to be caught with hundreds of thousands in interest? Or maybe your credit score was too low or your debt-to-income ratio was too high to qualify for a 15-year mortgage. Not to fear! This is where refinancing comes in. Let’s say you’ve been paying off your 30-year mortgage for four years and have reached a new height of financial stability or get married and can now afford a higher monthly mortgage payment. At this point, you could opt to restructure your loan to a 15-year mortgage and pay it off in just under 20 years.

Alternatively, you can pay extra installments of monthly payments straight to your principal in order to pay off your 30-year mortgage at an earlier rate. In order to do this you must make sure your mortgage agreement doesn’t have a prepayment penalty, which is written into your agreement. If this is the case, you can make one extra payment a year for a total of 13 payments and pay off your mortgage around four years earlier than expected. This compounds, that if you make two extra payments a year you can pay off your mortgage for around seven to ten years. Altogether there are many strategies to customize your mortgage to make it fit your life and lifestyle at any given time.

Pros and Cons of 15-year mortgages and 30-year mortgages.

How do you know what mortgage is right for you? There are benefits and disadvantages to both types of mortgages. Let’s look at the pros and cons of 15-year mortgages and 30-year mortgages.

Pros and Cons of 15-year mortgages

Starting with 15-year mortgages there is one major pro, you have the chance to save thousands of dollars. Lenders will typically charge a low interest rate for 15-year mortgages so over time you will save on interest. You also have the ability to own your home in 15 years, and you can build home equity faster. When you pay off the balance of your loan faster, you build equity faster.

The cons to be aware of with 15-year mortgages are that your monthly payment will be higher. You will want to be prepared before you commit to a high payment as it may put a strain on your budget. 15-year mortgages may be harder to qualify for because your lender will want to ensure that your income can accommodate the larger interest payments. It may be helpful to look at our mortgage calculator to see what kind of monthly payment you can afford. 

Pros and Cons of 30-year mortgages

The 30-year mortgage is the most popular loan to get. The pros of the 30-year mortgage rate is that it will have lower monthly payments. A lower monthly mortgage rate can allow for savings in other areas such as investing. There is flexibility in a 30-year mortgage rate. You can pay off the loan faster by adding to your monthly payment or by making extra payments. Other pros include more house for your mortgage, so this means you may qualify for a larger home. It is also easier to qualify for a 30-year mortgage.

The downsides to a 30-year mortgage rate are as follows. There are higher interest rates on a 30-year mortgage due to the mortgage lender’s risk of not getting paid back is stretched over a longer period of time, this also means that you will pay more interest over the lifetime of the loan. Finally, it takes longer to build equity in your home. Whichever way you want to pay, we are here to help you through the process of buying a home.


So, you’d like to buy a home without paying the full price upfront. The most common way to do so is with a 15-year mortgage or a 30-year mortgage. 15-year mortgages are typically more expensive month-to-month, but allow the buyer to own their home sooner. In turn, 30-year mortgages are a more manageable monthly payment but result in more interest over time and a longer pay period.

When it comes to mortgages, the buyer must consider their interest rate, whether fixed or adjustable. The lender will reference the buyer’s down payment, credit score, and debt-to-income ratio to finalize their rate. Whether the mortgage has a 15 or 30-year payment, the interest rates and terms will affect their monthly payments and overall costs.

When looking into which mortgage rate is best for the buyer, weighing the pros and cons will help develop an answer. For 15-year mortgages, the positives include potential savings on interest, faster home ownership, and quicker equity building. However, the complications come with higher monthly payments and stricter qualification criteria. In turn, 30-year mortgages will offer lower monthly payments, flexibility, and easier qualification. They also come with higher interest costs and slower home equity building.

All in all, there is no one-size-fits-all for mortgage rates. The buyer should weigh their options to find what is best for them. For questions, or a full walk-through of the mortgage process, reference our Support tab on our website.

Financial advisor showing report to young couple. Happy couple consulting financial agent for refinance mortgage loan rates
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