A mortgage is a long-term loan that uses real estate as collateral. A mortgage loan is commonly used for buying a home. Mortgage loans are usually fully amortizing, which means that the monthly principal and interest payment will pay off the loan in the number of payments stipulated on the note. Mortgage loans are also described by the length of time for repayment, such as 15 or 30 years, and whether the interest rate is fixed or adjustable. A mortgage loan where the downpayment is less than 20% usually requires private mortgage insurance (PMI) or government insurance or guarantee.
Most mortgage loans require monthly payments of principal and interest plus additional payments that are set-aside in escrow accounts to pay property taxes and homeowners insurance. In addition, loans with PMI or government mortgage insurance may require payment of a monthly mortgage insurance premium as part of the regular monthly payment.
Some lenders offer bi-weekly mortgages, which call for 26 payments per year. The details of bi-weekly mortgages can differ, so it’s best to ask the lender to outline the details of how these programs work.
Homebuyers who can afford the higher monthly payment sometimes prefer a 15-year mortgage to a 30-year mortgage. Interest rates on 15-year mortgages usually are slightly lower than 30-year rates. In addition, a homebuyer financing a home purchase with a 15-year mortgage will repay principal substantially faster and will pay far less total interest over the term of the loan.