Buying a home remains the great American dream. Home ownership rates have been exploding in recent years, spurred on by the historically low interest rates in the home mortgage market. Home prices have been rising at far faster than inflation, especially in major urban areas such as San Francisco, San Diego and Chicago. This means that not only can that home you’ve always wanted put a roof over your head, but it can provide you with a great investment as well. For people new to the mortgage market, buying their first home starts with finding the best home loans.
All potential homeowners should take some time to research home loans before calling their local realtor. There are a dazzling array of choices available when it comes to home loans, and finding the right mortgage for your needs can be difficult. Approach your upcoming home purchase with the same seriousness you apply to other major purchases. Your home will most likely be the biggest single investment you ever make. Take the time at the beginning to educate yourself about home loans. It will be time well spent.
Home loans are available from a wide variety of sources. These sources include banks, savings and loan associations, credit unions and mortgage brokers. Shop around at all of these sources to find the home loans with the lowest interest rate and lowest costs.
You will also have to decide between fixed rate home loans and variable rate home loans. Variable rate home loans are often advertised with extremely low “teaser rates”. These rates are used by lenders to get your attention and lure you in.
Before signing up for a variable rate mortgage, make sure you find out what the interest rate cap is. Variable rate home loans are usually based on an underlying interest rate, like the prime rate. The interest rate you pay will typically be the prime rate plus or minus a certain percentage. The variable rate mortgage will have a cap above which the interest rate cannot rise. Find out what that cap is, then use a mortgage payment calculator to see what your monthly mortgage payment will be at that rate. If you cannot afford the monthly payments at the maximum interest rate, you may not want to take the mortgage loan. While it is unlikely that interest rates will rise sufficiently to make the maximum interest rate kick in, it is always a possibility.
Variable rate home loans can be a good choice if you believe interest rates are likely to fall. In an environment where interest rates are steady or rising, they may not be so good a choice. You may also want to consider a variable rate mortgage if you do not plan to stay in your home more than five years. For instance, if your job transfers you every couple of years, you could probably get away with a variable rate mortgage and take advantage of the lower interest rate. When you move and sell your home, you will probably realize a gain due to rising home prices.
On the other hand, fixed rate home loans have a set interest rate for a set period of time, generally either 15 or 30 years. The interest rate does not change, therefore you will always know what your monthly mortgage payment will be. You are protected from rising interest rates with a fixed rate mortgage. If rates fall significantly, you can always refinance your mortgage loan to take advantage of the lower rates.
If you can afford the payments, 15-year home loans can substantially lower the amount of money you will ultimately pay for your home. When you run the numbers on a 15-year versus a 30-year home mortgage loan, you may be surprised at how affordable the 15-year home loan can be. Your mortgage payment will not double if you go with a 15-year mortgage versus a 30-year. This has to do with the affect of compound interest. You are paying far less interest in the long run on a 15-year mortgage.
Whatever type of home loan you decide on, the most important thing is to take that step which transforms you from a mere renter to a home owner and builder of equity. There are a great many home loans out there, but once you find the right one, you will find the rewards of home ownership well worth the time and effort put forth.