30 vs 15 Year Mortgage: Which is Better?

The age old battle of the 30 vs 15 year mortgage and which is better. Choosing the right mortgage term (period of time) is one of the most important decisions to make during the refinance or home purchase process. Below we outline some of the pros and cons of each. While 15 and 30 year fixed mortgages are the most common terms, clients can typically choose anywhere between 8 and 30.

15 Year Fixed Mortgage

The 15 year fixed mortgage typically comes with the lowest interest rates available on the market. This is because you are paying off the loan in half the time of a traditional 30 year fixed. Typically, a 15 year has a higher principal and interest payment and fits a client with strong and stable finances. If there’s hesitation around making a higher payment for 180 months, a longer loan with flexibility is likely a better choice.

Paying off a house 15 years faster can save thousands in interest payments over the life of the loan. Let’s walk through some hypothetical situations.

Client A

  • 30-Year Fixed
  • Loan Amount = $250,000
  • Interest Rate = 2.99% (3.159% APR)
  • Principal and Interest Payment = $1,052
  • Term = 360 Months

(Principal and interest payment)  x  (total months remaining)  =  (number of payments made over life of loan)

$1052  x  360 = $378,720

Client A pays $378,720 in total over the life of their 30-Year loan. $378,720 – $250,000 = $128,720 in interest paid over the life of the loan.

Client B

  • 15-Year Fixed
  • Loan Amount = $250,000
  • Interest Rate = 2.25% (2.489% APR)
  • Principal and Interest Payment = $1,637
  • Term = 180 Months

(Principal and interest payment)  X  (total months remaining) = (number of payments made over life of loan)

$1637  X  180 = $294,660

Client B pays $294,660 in total over the life of their 15-Year loan. $294,660 – $250,000 = $44,660 in interest paid over the life of the loan.  That’s $84,060 less than they would have paid on a 30-Year.

Summary of 15 Year Term

15 year mortgages are a great fit for the right client because they help pay the home off faster. Eliminating your largest debt prior to life milestones like retirement act similar to a pension. Someone that expects strong and continual income should consider the life of loan savings a 15 year can provide.

30-Year Fixed Mortgage

The 30 year fixed mortgage is the most common loan in America because it allows low-interest rates with added flexibility around your payment. Most, if not all 30 year fixed mortgages that Agave Home Loans offers carry no pre-payment penalties. No pre-payment penalties means that you can pay as much extra each month straight towards additional principal and thereby pay the home off faster. Extra principal payments allow you to reduce your overall interest over the course of the loan.

Many clients that can afford a shorter-term loan, like a 15 year, still choose the 30 year so that they can take the savings and invest money elsewhere. Some choose to put their excess monthly budget into an Individual Retirement Account, 401k, investment brokerage account, other real estate investments, or savings funds.

Summary of 15 Year Term

Folks choosing the 30 year are likely to believe that “cash is king” and enjoy the added monthly savings. Many servicers allow automatic extra payments that ensure the 30 year automatically pays off in 20 years. If someone experiences a financial emergency or they need to loosen the belt around the holidays, a client might turn off their automatic extra payments and fall back on the minimum monthly payment due.

A 30 year fixed is also the best fit for anyone trying to tackle credit cards that often carry higher interest rates than mortgages. Adding some monthly savings can allow for extra payments on a car. Tackling a car payoff sooner than expected can create a snowball effect that frees up even more cash to go towards credit cards or other monthly bills.

Summary of 30 vs 15 Year Mortgage: Which is Better?

30 year mortgages are the perfect loan for anyone looking for maximum flexibility. You can always pay extra to payoff the loan faster and the average person does not stay in the same house without refinancing every 3-5 years. Use flexibility to pay down high-interest debt or put towards other parts of your life. Save for a vacation, college, wedding, or retirement. 15 year mortgages are perfect for someone in a strong financial position seeking the lower interest rates on the market.

The difference of rates with a 30 vs 15 year mortgage can vary based on a given market. Sometimes the rates are similar and sometime the spread widens. Our experienced Loan Officers are trained to understand your scenario and make recommendations based on what makes the most sense. Simplistic options to choose from allow you and your family to make the best and right decision for your unique scenario. Click “Get Started” below to find out the options available for you!

Marshall Gottlieb - Co-Owner and CEO
Marshall spent seven years in hospitality and the restaurant industry prior to beginning a career in real estate and lending. After obtaining a finance degree with an emphasis in investments from Northern Arizona University, he began working at Quicken Loans. He spent seven years there as a banker and then Senior Director prior to co-founding Agave Home Loans. (NMLS ID: #1107208)

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